Park Chu-Young troubled start for Celta / Weekend Roundup

December 18, 2012

Bit of a quiet and disappointing weekend for Koreans footballin’ in Europe, with Park Chu-Young becoming the latest South Korean to encounter difficulty on the pitch. Several hours ago, he was named part Celta Vigo’s starting XI against Real Betis. This was nearly an identical offensive heavy lineup as the winning formula against Real Madrid last Wednesday. It didn’t have the same result for Celta: not only did the team fail to score (up until Monday, Celta has always scored at home), especially given multiple chances towards the end -they lost it by a goal in a game they had 57% possession. The finishing today was a big problem for Celta; after finding himself subbed off at halftime, SportalKorea correspondent Santiago Perez reported on twitter that Park Chu-Young didn’t even come back out of the tunnel.

It was followed by more cryptic and ominous twitter postings:

He got up the next twitter post in Gaelic, indicating Paco Herrera was furious with Park. The Tavern is going to guess it was his performance in the 1st half as he just didn’t have his game on. Initially Park came out at first energized and dynamic as was the rest of the team, and Celta had created some dangerous moments for Real Betis in the opening minutes. Further into the 1st half, with the exception of the first couple of minutes, Park hadn’t seen action on the ball until the 24th minute. When he did get onto the ball, Park had some ball control problems as some of his passes were off the mark, extinguishing several momentum shifting series Celta was building (one estimate has his passing rate as low as 62%). When Park received the ball around to the outside of the box in the 30th minute, he immediately fired off a tepid shot that was easily handled by Real Betis’ goalkeeper. Michael Krohn-Delhi got the ball over to Iago Aspas who made a fantastic run towards the keeper and just missed wide of the goal before halftime.

This was Santiago’s initial twitter post indicating an unusual event occurred during the intermission:

We now know that the doctor reported Roberto Lago as the injured player of concern and didn’t return to the game. We’re not sure what exactly occurred or what was said in the locker room, but a tactical move was made and 22 year old Tono came in place of Park to start the 2nd half. Clearly Herrera was unhappy, and the vibes that Santiago Perez was getting is the Park’s position with Celta may be in trouble. Perez updated his blog Rainmaker18.com a few hours ago -there is speculation that Herrera is going to go shopping for another forward in the January transfer window.

The Tavern wants to make clear that we cannot 100% confirm at this point that Park’s place in Celta is in jeopardy. He’s been a member of the starting team for a number of games and scored 2 pivotal goals for Celta within those several matches. Still, there is no denying that today’s display was not Park’s finest moment. So what exactly did go down in the locker room during half? Why didn’t Park come back out and what does this all mean for Park and Celta Vigo from here on out?  The Tavern will try to update you as soon as we know.

Ki Sung-Yeung had an unusually subpar game on Sunday against Tottenham.  Swansea lost eventually 0-1. To give you Tavern readers a snippet summary of his 2nd half let’s go to the Guardian’s Jacob Steinberg from his live commentary:

65 min: Ki has been absolutely rubbish. He’s not rubbish, of course, but everything he’s done today has led to Spurs having the ball.

75 min: Ki is put out of his misery. On comes Luke Moore.

GOAL! Tottenham 1-0 Swansea (Vertonghen, 75 min)

Well they say you should never make a substitution before defending a set-piece. It turns out “they” were right. Walker curls a free-kick into the area from the right and it’s glanced to Vertonghen, who slashes a cracking first-time finish into the bottom-right corner on the half-volley. And with his weaker right foot too. What a guy. Tottenham are going fourth and the home fans have woken up, funnily enough.”

Thank you Jacob for the commentary. Well, there you have it. First time in as long as I can remember Ki subbing off and not finishing the full 90 minutes. Playing armchair manager, I’d tell Ki that even the best of players can’t have 100% good games, to shake it off and get back in it, refocused for the next match.

Saturday saw several Koreans in action: In Germany, Cha Du-Ri got in 14 minutes in a 2-1 win over Hannover 96. He subbed in for Alex Bellinghausen, a midfielder.

Koo Ja-Cheol played the full 90 minutes in a frustrating 1-1 draw with fellow Bundesliga bottom dweller Grunther Furth. They led with a narrow 1 goal lead and blew it in the 69th minute. They share 9 points with Grunther Furth for the last place in the table, but on a glass-half-full view are only 4 points from getting out of the relegation zone.

Son Heung-Min played 65 minutes in a 3-0 loss to Bayer Lekerkusen. He got in 3 shots before subbed out for Beister. The Tavern is furious with Comcast cable, who mysteriously dropped GOL TV from it’s lineup. I even called and got put on hold and never gotten back to for their explanation. I’m still waiting Comcast…don’t mess with the Tavern!

Kim Bo-Kyung was in the 18 man roster but didn’t see any minutes on the pitch as Cardiff had the surprise upset loss of the day, losing 1-2 to Peterborough United, their first home loss of the season. The Bluebirds had strung up a remarkable and record setting 10 home game winning streak up until Saturday. Kim scored his first goal in Cardiff’s previous match a 4-1 win over Blackburn, yet didn’t find his way into boss Malkaye’s equation. No doubt, there’s a good bit of competition for the few midfield positions for the Bluebirds.

Lee Chung-Yong played 65 minutes in Bolton’s 2-0 win over Charlton Athletic. Ngog scored a brace for the Wanderers. For his part, Lee played well enough for the home crowd that there reportedly boos from the Reebok stadium crowd in the decision to substitute Petrov for Chungy. And this just in: new rumors surfacing from Korean media sources Naver.com that Stoke City on looking to acquire Lee in January. The Tavern will be monitoring this situation, but if it goes through, Lee could face off against Ki Sung-Yeung in the Premier League, as early as January 19th when Stoke visits Liberty Stadium.

While Park Ji-Sung is still out injured with knee problems, what do you know- an early Christmas surprise as QPR were ahead of Fulham 2-1 AND didn’t blow the lead!  The very speedy Taarabt got the brace and QPR have finally dug themselves out of the very last place in the Premier League table. Reading now holds that distinction. It’s QPR’s first win of the season -wait, how long did it take them? They are still in the relegation zone of course but are now 5 points from Wigan, who holds the 3rd and last relegation position. Could QPR actually escape relegation -again? Or will the curse of Joey Barton swallow them whole and drag them down into ignominy?  Get well soon Ji-Sung!

The only other item to report as far as games is Sunderland getting beat up predictably by Manchester United 3-1. Ji Dong-Won not in the 18 man roster for Sunderland, still on track by most estimates to be on loan to Augsburg during the January transfer window.

—–New update: Lex Nande of K-Talk sent me a link to a kick ass article about Lee Young-Pyo. He gave a press conference in Seoul last week to announce his non-retirement, but he went on to dish out some constructive criticism over the K-League sacking 10 out of 16 managers by the close of the season. More importantly, he was asking all the right questions about why the K-League is struggling for fans to fill up stadiums:

“The Japanese, U.S., European, South American and even Middle East leagues have attracted large audiences to the stands but why can’t the Korean league do so? It’s not Koreans do not like football, but we need to think about the issue.”

It goes on to talk about his next season for Vancouver in which he wants to limit his East Coast away games to preserve his fitness. The MLS star defender will be turning 36 in April. The Korea Times article link can be found here.

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