Disclaimer: I do not want Vidmar to leave the Sailors
I stumbled across this article thanks to our pals at Lions Of Asia, and I think it is worth addressing. Yes, this may just be nothing more than the work of some journalists churning material for the rumour mill. However, let’s assume that this is true and entertain this prospect.
After all, it is not an unlikely scenario. Aurelio Vidmar previously coached BG Pathum United between August 2016 and July 2017. After guiding the Rabbits to a 3rd place finish in 2016 and a 5th place finish in 2017, Vidmar left the club and assumed the position as Adelaide United’s Director of Football in 2018.
BG Pathum United have a fantastic squad, arguably one of the best in Southeast Asia and they won’t be pushovers in the upcoming AFC Champions League group stage fixtures. Vidmar has unfinished business with the Thai side, and winning the Thai League 1 title would be a very achievable goal for next season. Vidmar is also a AFC Champions League specialist of sorts. He guided Adelaide United to the 2008 AFC Champions League Final, and he is most likely sought after by BG Pathum to ensure the club progresses far in the competition. Drawn against Viettel, Ulsan Hyundai, and the play-off winner between Shanghai Port and Brisbane Roar or Kaya, BG have a decent chance of progressing.
BG Pathum would therefore be an interesting project for Vidmar to take on, but therein lies another question: what about the ongoing Lion City Sailors project? Why would Vidmar leave the Sailors?
That’s something I cannot really fathom. The Sailors are arguably the most ambitious start-up project in Southeast Asia right now. They have loads of money, appear to have a clear direction (as evident with their aggressive marketing, 10-million-dollar-training centre, and AFC One Star Academy), and most importantly have the best squad (on paper) that Singapore football could potentially offer. Vidmar is given all the tools. So why would he leave?
Or is it a case of him being pushed out? Forrest Li would probably expect instant success with the Sailors, and can you blame the man for wanting it? The Sailors assembled a star-studded line up last season but came in third. This season they doubled up on the star power, bringing in Diego Lopes on a multi-million dollar deal and experienced Jorge Fellipe but also reinforced with a host of local stalwarts. Nur Adam, Amirul Adli, and Faris Ramli were added to a squad that already boasts Gabriel Quak, Shahdan Sulaiman, Adam Swandi, Song Ui-young, Stipe Plazibat, Hassan Sunny, Tajeli Salamat, Hafiz Nor, Aqhari Abdullah, and Saifullah Akbar. Unlike other managers in the league, Vidmar has quality across all positions and, more importantly, quality in depth.
This squad is equipped to compete on all fronts. And I mean ALL fronts. The Sailors theoretically have what it takes to win the AFC Cup this season. Why would Vidmar jump ship? Maybe he’s been forced to walk the plank instead? Perhaps. After all, the Sailors drew 2 games and lost 1 after six games thus far. The Sailors management probably believe that their club should be cruising through their matches.
So let’s assume that Vidmar does leave. Who is the ideal manager that the Sailors need to helm their vessel?
Well, I don’t believe that any one manager should steer this ship. Instead, there are two that could potentially co-manage the Sailors and bring them to greater heights.
The funny thing is, no one has talked about this combination thus far. The Lee Lim-saeng and Kim Do-hoon combination could potentially work at a club like Lion CIty Sailors. You already know how much I admire Lee Lim-saeng. I have mentioned him in a previous article before and I stand by the claim that he is one of the best managers to have ever graced the Singaporean footballing landscape. His track record after his time in Singapore is spectacular too. 3 years in China (Two in the CSL and one in Chinese League One) and 1.5 years with Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the K-League is really remarkable.
Kim Do-hoon may be an unfamiliar name to those who do not follow Korean football. Kim was the Ulsan Hyundai manager that won the 2020 AFC Champions League and the 2017 KFA Cup. Winning the premier Asian continental competition is no easy feat, and he brings a wealth of experience.
So why a Lee and Kim coaching combination? Well for starters, both managers played for the Korean National Team together and even worked together in a coaching capacity before. Lee and Kim have chemistry and both offer something the other needs. Lee brings familiarity of Singaporean football and, crucially, culture to the table. Kim offers the prestige name power that the Sailors seem to be targeting. The football romanticist in me also wishes to see a Lee Homecoming (pun intended) to Singapore.
Crucially Lee and Kim are also currently not tied to any clubs. They are free agents in the market right now.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to see Aurelio pushed out of the Sailors. He is an incredible manager and I think he just needs a tad bit more time. That being said, I do believe that a Kim and Lee combination would work well for the Sailors should Vidmar leave.
Like I said, to reiterate, once again, this is purely based on speculation. I in no way want Vidmar to leave.
Photo Credits: Singapore Premier League
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