A grand start, a tenuous end. On 6 September 2021, Ahn Ik-soo, then the head coach of Sun Moon University, was appointed as the “fireman” of FC Seoul, which was facing relegation. The arrival of a man who had been out of the professional game for nearly nine years, having left Seongnam in 2012, was unconventional. Ahn’s tactics were even more unconventional. Ahn,먹튀검증 who had always admired the EPL’s Manchester City, took the team from the relegation zone to seventh place with build-up football, positional disruption such as moving full-backs into the centre of the pitch, and the so-called “Iksubol”, a fast-passing play. Both the players who practised the tactic and the fans watching the game were fascinated by it. In a game dominated by defensive three-back tactics, Iksubol was sensational.
That was it. Unlike the expectation that Iksubol would be perfected after winter training, it did the opposite. Iksubol’s power was lost when he was spotted by the opposition. The U-shaped build-up play only increased possession, but not the winning percentage. There was a perception among opponents that ‘Seoul’s football is predictable. That’s why they’re so easy to play against. The friction and clashes in the Seoul locker room began to erode Ahn’s trademark control of the squad. “The details” were an issue, but Ahn kept saying, “We have to lead Korean football”.
Seoul, who only narrowly secured their place in the 2022 regular season, gave Ahn another chance. He added a number of players in each position. Even national team striker Hwang Eui-jo joined the team. At the start of the season, the speedy Iksubol emerged as a serious contender to Ulsan in the top flight. However, just as the 2021 season’s surge ended in “two months of heaven,” the 2023 season’s surge gradually died down in just over two months. Even Hwang Eui-jo left the team when his loan expired, and Iksubol was described as a fragile, unstable team that was back to its “2022 Iksubol” self.
Photo=Korean Football Association
Ahn was also shaken. In May, he was sent off for protesting a refereeing decision against Ulsan and received a one-match suspension. Earlier this month, he was cautioned against Pohang and was suspended for the next match due to accumulated cautions. Ahn was the only coach to be suspended for a card this year. Ahn, who played defensive football during his time at Busan and Seongnam, abandoned his Iksubol roots when his team wasn’t performing as well as he had hoped, and went in search of points by playing lockdown football in the second half. However, Seoul, who are used to attacking football, conceded more goals every time they tried to lock down. This month, the team drew twice against Pohang and Daegu after taking the lead.
Seoul is winless in its last five matches, including a 2-2 draw against Daegu on the 19th, the day Ahn announced his resignation. They are fourth on 39 points, but 10 points adrift of second-placed Pohang (49) and just three points behind seventh-placed Daejeon (36) in Final B Group. There was a sense of urgency that the team could slip back into Final B at this rate. Fans chanted “Iksu out” in Daegu.
Ahn’s contract runs until this year. Ahn and Seoul were ‘destined to part ways’. But with Seoul’s goal of reaching Final A and eventually the Asian Champions League, it was time to make a change before it was too late. Ahn was already thinking about hanging up his boots. There’s no way he was carrying a ‘resignation letter’ on his tablet.
They could have parted ways with a round of applause. However, Ahn responded to the boos from the Seoul fans in Daegu with a wild gesture of protest. Ahn had always been vocal about playing for his “guardians” (Seoul supporters). He read out his resignation statement at a press conference without consulting the club. People are remembered by their last appearance. The end of the veteran leader left only bitterness. Seoul announced on the 22nd that they accepted Ahn’s resignation. Head coach Kim Jin-gyu will lead the team as acting head coach from the next match against Ulsan.