K League Review Middle 4

In part 2 of the series, we take a look at the middle four teams from the 2014 K League Classic: Jeju United, Ulsan Hyundai, Jeonnam Dragons, and Busan IPark.

If you missed part 1 (on the top four teams), you can read it here.

5. Jeju United FC
Points: 54
Record: 14-12-12
Goals Scored: 39
Goals Conceded: 37

Season in a word: Solid

Jeju was never an exceptional team nor were they ever really poor. So, solid is a very apt word to describe their season. Little was really expected of the island boys from down south, and they rarely made the headlines. They were virtually always in the top half of the table, but were never really considered challengers for the title. A few players for Jeju caught the eye such as the Chilean Hugo Droguett, Australian Aleksandar Janovic, and Song Jin-hyung.

Looking ahead: Jeju, like many of the mid-tier clubs, is a difficult one to pin down. They’ll never have (or use) the financial muscle they have to keep hold of their better players, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if some of them, like Hugo Droguett, moved on to other clubs. It will also be interesting to see if Jeju decides to try and bring Kang Su-il back to the club or if they sell him on. Jeju will also need to replace their manager who left the club for personal reasons at the end of the season.

Jeju’s Season by the Numbers
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Jeju’s Table Placement Round-by-Round
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6. Ulsan Hyundai FC
Points: 50
Record: 13-11-14
Goals Scored: 44
Goals Conceded: 43

Season in a word: Disappointing

Ulsan took a gamble in the offseason by going “in the family” with their coaching appointment of Cho Min-kook, a relatively unexperienced manager at the top level. By pretty much all accounts it failed miserably as Ulsan squeaked into a top half finish, but was clearly well off the pace of the leaders. Injuries and national team call ups for key players Kim Shin-wook and Kim Seung-gyu didn’t help, but the team as a whole didn’t play to their ability.

Looking ahead: The team will certainly look to bounce back in a big way next season, and the appointment of former Sagan Tosu boss Yoon Jung-hwan is an interesting one to watch next season. Another key will be if Ulsan can keep hold of Kim Shin-wook who got his prized military exemption after being a part of the gold medal winning Asian Games team. Kim has expressed an interest in going to Europe, and if he’s going to go, now’s the time.

Ulsan’s Season by the Numbers
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Ulsan’s Table Placement Round-by-Round
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7. Jeonnam Dragons FC
Points: 51 (*bottom half cannot pass top half)
Record: 14-9-15
Goals Scored: 48
Goals Conceded: 53

Season in a word: Almost

Unfortunate for Jeonnam really. The team got off to a great start, and spent most of the regular season in the top half of the table, at teams even competing (placement wise) with their bigger brothers in Jeonju. But the team’s relative lack of depth ended up costing them as they slowly began to slide down the table. In the end, they missed out on a top half finish on the final rounds as Ulsan nipped past. Jeonnam did though boast a number of interesting youngsters (and some veterans) in the form of Lee Jong-ho and Ahn Yong-woo.

Looking ahead: Get deeper should be the theme for the offseason if Jeonnam wants to push on. Granted this is a questionable thing as the team’s owner (POSCO) has not shown a willingness to splash the cash, particularly on their ‘2nd team’.

Jeonnams’s Season by the Numbers
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Jeonnam’s Table Placement Round-by-Round
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8. Busan IPark FC
Points: 49
Record: 10-13-15
Goals Scored: 37
Goals Conceded: 49

Season in a word: Sketchy

Busan’s season basically came in three parts. A mediocre first part, a terrible middle part, and a resurgent third part. As with the year before, Busan ultimately relied on some solid keeping from Lee Bum-young along with the goal scoring exploits of Lim Sang-hyub and Fagner. The rest of the team was passable, but not by much.

Looking ahead: Two big worries for Busan going into the offseason. The first is the loss of top scorer Lim Sang-hyub who heads to the army for his two-year stint. The second is whether they can hold onto Lee Bum-young. The former is more worrying as Lee Chang-geun has shown to be a decent replacement should his sunbae head to greener pastures.

Busan’s Season by the Numbers
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Busan’s Table Placement Round-by-Round
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In the final part of the series, we will take a look at the bottom four teams from the K League Classic.

About Jae Chee 310 Articles
A football fan with who got bit by the writing bug.