South Korea deliberating over manager decision

Shin Tae-yong, will he stay or will he go?

Shin Tae-yong led South Korea to the World Cup, and not much was expected from the Korean team during the competition; mainly in part to the group, South Korea was handed – the so-called group of death. 

South Korea’s performances in the first two matches were abysmal and it was looking more and more likely that Shin was going to get the chop instantly after the final game against Germany. However, the whole world knows exactly what happened in that match, with South Korea emerging victorious and sending Germany home in the process.

That game and victory against the Germans have left the KFA (Korean Football Association) with a tough decision to make, although it really shouldn’t be because one swallow doesn’t make a summer. Korea’s approach to their matches was thoughtless and tactically limited under Shin.

Shin played his part in the win over Germany but at the same time, the whole Korean team had been embarrassed by their performances up until that point and obviously wanted to make a statement instead of going out meekly. In my opinion, Shin should be replaced because he has shown in the qualifying games and the first two World Cup games that he can be devoid of ideas and creativity. Lump it to the big man seems to be his plan A, B, C, D etc.

What have the KFA said about the situation? 

KFA supervisory committee Chief Kim Pan-gon has said a lot about what credentials the next South Korean manager will need to be suitable in the role of managing the South Korean national team. They’ll be hoping to build on the performance against Germany to take Korean football to the next level of development. 

Kim has said that “the next Korean manager will be appointed based on his suitability with the Korean football philosophy”. He mentioned briefly that the Korean football philosophy is based on proactive football, with constant attempts to play the ball forward combined with aggressive dribbling. The approach is focused on driving the play forward when the Korean side has possession. 

It takes time to build

According to Kim Pan-gon, South Korea are aiming to have a set style of play implemented in the future, but he is aware that this structure takes time to build by stating,  “It’ll take time for this, players need a high level and understanding of tactics, space and overall gameplay. This is not a short-term mission, to achieve this we’ll have to implement changes in youth football and training methods”. 

For a set style of play to be implemented at the national team level, a manager will need to be appointed who is able to buy into the approach set up by the KFA, without them being on the same page it will never work. This clearly is going to be important in the KFA’s decision process regarding the managerial position. 

Shin wants to stay for the Asian Cup

Shin Tae-yong has expressed his desire to stay in charge of South Korea for the Asian Cup, but that decision is currently out of Shin’s hands. The KFA has acknowledged that the result against Germany was excellent and that has put him on the list of candidates according to the KFA.  

If South Korea managed to play the way they did against Germany for the whole World Cup then there is no doubt that the KFA would have likely kept Shin in charge, but the first two games were awful for South Korea and they never looked like scoring, let alone winning. Those first two matches and the qualifying process seem to have cast a major doubt over Shin’s chances of staying in charge of this Korean team. 

The KFA set out their requirements 

The KFA is currently deciding what to do about who will be the manager of the South Korean national team and lead them into the Asian Cup next year. They have set out their clear requirements of what they are looking for, and what they think will help them succeed in the future. 

What the KFA require in their search is a manager who is qualified to lead a team to a 10th World Cup, success in the past World Cup qualifying, international competitions or high-level domestic competitions, and the suitability to implement the Korean philosophy. 

The next manager will also have the responsibility to work with a domestic assistant manager as they want to create a lasting legacy meaning in the future they will have more options form a Korean management pool. 

Phil Scolari

My Twitter feed was going mental with lots of prominent Korean football journalists and bloggers talking about the KFA going for Phil Scolari. However, the KFA has come out and made a statement saying that they may consider hiring a new manager but are still reviewing Shin Tae-yong’s performance.

If Shin Tae-yong’s review goes badly for him, and he gets relieved of his duty as the manager of the South Korean national team, then Phil Scolari would seem like a backwards step especially after all the talk around developing a style and a legacy. 

Scolari has done well in his management career, but he is likely to want to play the style of football he is most used to, and he would most likely want to hire his own backroom staff. If the KFA want to hire someone of a similar calibre to Scolari then the kind of football they want to play in their football philosophy and lumping a Korean assistant on them could prove to be problematic. If they decide to take the foreigner approach they’d be better off to go for a younger, hungrier manager whose career is on an upward trajectory instead of one winding down. 

So South Korea had a mixed back of results at the World Cup, from the dismal to the wonderful. So Korean football finds itself at a defining crossroads where a difficult decision needs to be taken, do they stick with Shin or twist and go with the unknown?   


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