K League Review: Bottom 4

In the third and final installment of this series, we take a look at the bottom four clubs from the 2014 K League Classic: Seongnam FC, Incheon United, Gyeongnam FC, and Sangju Sangmu.

Remember, if you missed part 1 (top four) or part 2 (middle four) you can read them here.

9. Seongnam FC
Points: 40
Record: 9-13-16
Goals Scored: 32
Goals Conceded: 39

Season in a word: Miraculous

There were varying thoughts about how Seongnam would do in their first season as a citizen club after losing the financial backing of the Unification Church. In the end, one would have to say that it was a success – even if the relegation battle was a little close for comfort in the end. The team rode their defensive strength (and a bit of luck) to knock out Jeonbuk and Seoul in the FA Cup and win a spot in the Asian Champions League next season. Relegation was also staved off as they won their final key matches against Incheon and Busan.

Looking ahead: What happens next season? One would like to be optimistic, but this squad just isn’t equipped to deal with the rigors of Asian and domestic football. The city has pledged money to the team, but not enough to really strengthen significantly. Like most of the citizen teams, survival will be the main priority.

Seongnam’s Season by the Numbers
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Seongnam’s Table Placement Round-by-Round
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10. Incheon United FC
Points: 40
Record: 8-16-14
Goals Scored: 33
Goals Conceded: 46

Season in a word: Fluctuating

Incheon got off to a horrible start, and it wasn’t until matchday 11 that they finally recorded a win. Another poor spell followed, but right in the middle of the season the team won four of seven matches which was enough to lift them off the bottom. Like in previous years, Incheon was poached by bigger clubs for some of the better players, and they needed some of their young guys like Moon Sang-yoon and Brazilian import Ivo to give them a boost.

Looking ahead: Big problems potentially loom large for Incheon as the city struggles mightily with their finances. It hasn’t gotten the headlines that the others have, but Incheon’s mayor hinted that the team might need to be ‘administratively relegated’ to the Challenge in order to cut costs. With problems of this magnitude, Incheon will be hard pressed to keep hold of any decent players.

Incheon’s Season by the Numbers
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Incheon’s Table Placement Round-by-Round
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11. Gyeongnam FC
Points: 36
Record: 7-15-16
Goals Scored: 30
Goals Conceded: 52

Season in a word: Disastrous

Was there ever a good moment for Gyeongnam? They kept their noses above the relegation zone for the first month or two, but then sank quickly after a 16-game win-less run. They finally started winning a bit towards the end, but by then their relegation rivals – Busan, Incheon, and Seongnam – had already gotten ahead.

Looking ahead: Well, the biggest question is of course whether the club will even exist next season. Gyeongnam provincial government will conduct a special audit on the club (in January I believe) with some suspecting senior club officials have embezzled some of the 13 billion won given to the club. The province is in desperate need of money for their budget, so at the very least the club will likely sell off any decent player and have their budget slashed significantly next season.

Gyeongnam’s Season by the Numbers
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Gyeongnam’s Table Placement Round-by-Round
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12. Sangju Sangmu
Points: 34
Record: 7-13-18
Goals Scored: 39
Goals Conceded: 62

Season in a word: Predictable

Sangju actually managed to stay in the safe reaches of the lower-mid-table (if that makes any sense) for a while, but in the end they drifted down and ended up in the automatic relegation spot by a pretty comfortable margin. Sangju’s drop started around match day 20 or so, which I think is right around when they had a massive change in the squad as players finished their duty and “fresh meat” came in. Coincidence? Probably not.

Looking ahead: The army boys will be back in the Challenge and should be the pick of the crop. A strong incoming class should make the strong challengers to win the league next year.

Sangju’s Season by the Numbers
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Sangju’s Table Placement Round-by-Round
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About Jae Chee 339 Articles
A football fan who got bit by the writing bug.

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