'It's out of form, it's not a wall circle'... British harsh criticism towards Son Heung-min ‘It’s the first game now’

August 14, 2023


Tottenham Son Heung-min regrets after missing a scoring opportunity in the opening round of the English Premier League (EPL) in the 2023-2024 season with Brentford, which ended at the G-Tech Community Stadium in Brentford, England on the morning of the 14th (hereafter Korean time). Brentford | AFP Yonhap News

Brentford | Reuters Yonhap News

Brentford | AFP Yonhap News

[Sports Seoul | Reporter Kim Yong-il] It was the first official match of the season that was obviously not satisfactory, and it was the’captain debut match’. However, harsh criticism from local media and statistical media followed. This is the story of Tottenham’s “new captain” Son Heung-min.

He wore the captain’s armband and started as a left winger in the opening round of the English Premier League (EPL) in the 2023-2024 season with Brentford, which ended at the G-Tech Community Stadium in Brentford, England on the morning of the 14th (hereinafter Korean time), and digested 75 minutes. However, he failed to raise the attack point and showed poor performance, such as conceding a penalty kick.

The team took the lead in the 11th minute with a header from James Madison's free kick by Cristian Romero, but was pulled back after allowing consecutive goals from Brian Mbeumo and Yoan Wissa. Emerson's equalizer in extra time in the first half drew 2-2 and had to be satisfied with a point.

Brentford | AFP Yonhap News

Brentford | Reuters Yonhap News

Son Heung-min stood on the ground wearing the captain’s armband for the second time in EPL history as a Korean player, following Park Ji-seong, current Jeonbuk Hyundai advisor, during the 2012-2013 season with Queens Park Rangers (QPR).

It was important for him to leave a strong impression in the first match as he was reborn as the right person and leader to fill the gap left by Harry Kane, who left for Bayern Munich (Germany) ahead of the season opening.

However, in the 24th minute of the first half, when the team was leading 1-0, he joined the defense, and in the process of blocking Mathias Jensen's breakthrough, he touched his ankle and conceded a penalty kick. Mbeumo, who started as a kicker, kicked the ball neatly.

Brentford | AFP Yonhap News

His expression darkened, he had a good scoring opportunity from the left side of the penalty box in the 15th minute of the second half, but it was not finished. In the meantime, while dragging the defense, I felt the gap of Kane, who created the space for quick dribbling and shooting, which is Son Heung-min's specialty.

Football statistics company ‘Foot Mob’ gave Son Heung-min a rating of 6.2 immediately after the match, along with Richarli Song, who started as one-top starter, and gave him the lowest score. According to the ‘Foot Mob’ data, Son Heung-min touched the ball 46 times, but only tried 2 dribbles. One of them succeeded. I also tried cross twice, but both were inaccurate. Another statistics company, WhoScored.com, also gave him the second-lowest rating of 6.1 on the team. The lowest was midfielder Oliver Skipp with a 5.9.

Brentford | AFP Yonhap News

The Internet version of the British daily newspaper ‘Mirror’ criticized Son Heung-min greatly. The media said, “Son Heung-min needs to get along with his teammates and be a leader on and off the pitch. The South Korean superstar unfortunately failed to set an example right after Tottenham took the lead through Romero's header. I tried to block Jensen awkwardly, and Brentford won a penalty after a video review (VAR).” Also, ‘Son Heung-min left 15 minutes of regular time if he did not improve much in the second half. The question remains whether he is (temporarily) losing form, or whether he is no longer seeing world-class abilities.”

The media also criticized Richarlison, the Brazilian national striker who played the role of Kane. “I could understand why Tottenham fans weren’t sure that Richarli Song was someone who would follow in Kane’s footsteps,” he said. “I spent a relatively quiet first half. The second half was more lively, and (opposition goalkeeper) Mark Flecken hit a shot that was well saved, but that was all.”

Still, it's just the first match. Tottenham played a pre-season friendly match with Kane right up to the opening of the season. It takes a process of learning how to live without Kane, who played a leading role in the team. Son Heung-min should be at the center of it.