Five Things we learnt from R2

K-League ClassicWeek two of the Kleague Classic threw up some food for thought for managers and fans alike.  Everyone is still hopeful for the new season and no one is really sure what the new normal is.  Worst of all, we’ve now got a week off for internationals before we get further clarification on certain things like just how big Jeonbuk’s contribution to the “Referee Benevolent Fund” will need to be, and just what supplement FC Seoul players have been taking to give them such a spring in their step.  Here we outline five facts that we learnt this week.

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1. Only good enough to play for Accrington Stanley 

Round 2 saw Suwon Bluewings make their home K-League bow, last year we had birthday cake hats this year we would be treated to some pre-match cows to mark their sponsorship with Maeil Milk. In the first half the Bluewings were udderly dominant with their players showing all the right moo-ves as they took a 2-0 lead by half-time.  As the game wound down it looked like it would be a lost cowse for Jeonnam to get something out of the game but up popped Orsic and Jugovic with two goals in the last ten minutes to leave them milking the Jeonnam supporters’ adulation and leaving Suwon Bluewings fans to ruminate on what cud have been.

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The Bluewings’ new mascots will need to be exchanged for magic beans if they want their team to climb the table!

Bluewings fans have been buying so much milk that youngsters growing up in Suwon these days should have no problem playing for one of the great Liverpool sides of the ’80s, unfortunately after several uninspiring performances in the League and ACL it seems the current batch of players are only good enough to play for Accrington Stanley.

 

2. Blurred Lines

Despite Korea being one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, its football pitches remain a bastion of luddisim.  In R2 of the Classic there were no less than three goal line incidents, two of which 48 Shades Tower reckons were ruled wrongly.

Incident 1 – Seoul v Sangju:  About fifteen minutes into the first half, Adriano receives a cross and shoots first time.  The ball crashes into the crossbar, bounces down and then is cleared by a defender.

SeoulReferee’s verdict: No goal

48 Shades verdict: No goal, tv replays show it to bounce on the line.

Incident 2 – Suwon v Seongnam:  Fifteen minutes into the second half, Tiago takes a corner which has a lot of spin and also catches the wind to drop under the crossbar by the near post.  The goalie dives back and claws it out.

SeongnamReferee’s verdict: Goal

48 Shades verdict: No goal, it’s hard to tell from the replay, but it doesn’t look like the whole of the ball would have crossed the line.

Incident 3 – Ulsan v Jeonbuk –   Twelve minutes into the second half Ulsan break down the left on the counter and a cross is whipped in and headed goalward by Han Sangwoon on the six yard line.  Kwon Sountae gets down and claws it out whereupon Han stands on the ball to completely mess up the rebound chance.

UlsanReferee’s verdict: No goal

48 Shades verdict:  Goal, looks like it crossed the line prior to Kwon batting it out.

3. They don’t like it up ’em!

One week on from easily dispatching Suwon Bluewings in Fortress Tancheon, Seongnam FC traveled down to Suwon to face the poorer cousins of Suwon FC. Much of the pre-match talk among the Seongnam masses was that after Round 1’s victory this one should be relatively straightforward, I guess the memo never reached the Suwon FC dressing room. Straight from kick-off each and every player in red and blue pushed, pressed and harried every one of their opponents, to say the tactic was effective would be an understatement. The more the game progressed the more the Seongnam players panicked as time after time they had their heels clipped or felt their rival breathing down their neck. It was the football equivalent of a Jack Russel terrier snarling at rather meek Rottweiler. Even after the players emerged for the second half surely having had the Hak Bum ‘hairdryer’ treatment they were still at a loss as to how to deal with things, resorting to long punts up the park to an ever-increasingly ineffective Hwang Uijo. The end result was a fair 1-1 draw, only time will tell if that is a point won or two points lost.

Suwon FC take man marking to a new level!!
Suwon FC take man marking to a new level!!

 

4. The WWF has elevated Suwon Bluewings fans’ conservation status from Vulnerable to Endangered.

Last week 48 Shades noted that opening week attendances were healthy and the trend continued this week except at the Big Bird.  Previously, perhaps slightly envious of their big crowds and vibrant atmosphere, fans of other teams had referred to the Big Bird as the Battery Farm.  Last year, the Bluewings lost their title as the the best-supported club as their average crowd was only third highest in the league and waggish fans noted that the Big Bird was much more free-range.

This year’s opening home league match attracted an attendance of only 13,794, the fifth highest out of the first twelve games this year.  This was roughly equivalent with their average attendance for 2015 but 20% down on their opening home fixture last year (against Pohang) and only 1,000 more than attended Suwon FC’s home opener the previous day.  Conservation experts state that if this decline continues, the Bluewing fan will be extinct within a few years.

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The Bluewings’ new mascot 도도

5.  The Case of the Missing Physical Coach

After Seoul destroyed Sangju 4-0 to dispel their slow-starter reputation, 48 Shades had prepared an insightful analysis of what has changed this year.  Our careful statistical analysis and in-depth interviews with the major protagonists lead us to the conclusion that newly appointed Australian physical coach Adam Waterson had been feeding the boys vegemite, lamingtons and kangaroo meat but when we went to the FC Seoul website to check his name, we found that he has morphed into Jasmin.

 

 

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Five things we learnt from Round 1

K-League ClassicWeek one of the new school year is often a revision week of what was covered last year and, for the most part, so it proved during the opening round of K League Classic as we learnt that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Here we outline five facts that we (re)learnt this week.

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1. When the bats are away the footballs will play. 

Just like the opening round last year attendances were up across the K-League Classic with a whopping 32,000+ taking in Jeonbuk v Seoul and a ‘sold-out’ Tancheon soaking up Seongnam v Suwon Bluewings, but before anyone gets too carried away and we all rush to contact Fernando Torres’ agent to offer him the 100,000 a week he is looking for it should be noted that their was a distinct lack of baseball on offer last weekend. Not that we at 48 Shades are implying that the average Korean football fan is of the ‘fair-weather’ kind of course, merely that when it’s the only show in town we can almost fill a stadium. Of course an empty seat is probably still preferable to a phone-hugging rounders-watcher pretending to be interested in the game every time the crowd makes a noise.

Maybe dual fans can have their cake and eat it!
Maybe dual fans can have their cake and eat it!

 

2. Uli Stelike has the best eyesight in the land.

At 48 Shades we like to call a spade a spade and have at times flirted with controversy with our comments about one Mr. Stelike and his penchant for selecting anyone who plays outside of Korea so it was good to see him lapping up the atmosphere of Jeonnam v Suwon FC on Sunday although you could perhaps wonder who exactly he was ‘scouting’ in this one. He seemed to be a little vexed looking when the JTBC cameras darted to him during a lull in the 2nd half which may have been him trying to figure out what actual sport he was watching as it barely qualified as football such was the lack of apparent skill and passion being displayed on the pitch. Now the more cynical among us might try to claim that his attendance at this match was nothing more than a PR stunt with it being Suwon FC’s first game in the Classic and that he was in fact vexed as he couldn’t find coverage of the J2 on his cellphone.

Uli Stielike

3. Ulsan 2016 look more Ulsan 2015 than Ulsan 2013

Last year was one to forget for those of an Ulsan persuasion and it was with high expectations that they welcomed a new season and a fresh assault on the title. They must have been buoyed when the fixture list threw up a clash against Sangju (see post 5 for potential reasons for said clash being first ‘out of the hat’). It took roughly an hour for those expectations to be brought crashing down as they succumbed to a rather lackluster 2-0 defeat. Sure they were without the talismanic Wookie upfront but it really did look as if they had been briefed by the local kimbap vendor before kick-off. You do get the feeling that they could be in for another long and hard season if they can’t shore up defence, toughen up the midfield and actually find Lee Jeong Hyeop with a pass.

Ulsan's new strikeforce
Ulsan’s new strikeforce

4.  Seoul can’t escape their reputation as slow-starters

After two electrifying performances to open their ACL campaign in which they scored six goals away against the champions of Thailand and four goals at home against the Champions of Japan, Seoul’s fans were upbeat about their chances in R1 against Jeonbuk and travelled down in droves.  Although this was arguably their toughest fixture of the season they were bright enough for the first 20 minutes but ultimately key players like Adriano and Shin Jin-ho were a shade of their ACL selves.  Seoul huffed and puffed for 90 minutes but there was more lacking from the team than just white collars on the ACL strip.  The fact that they went out four days later and scored four goals away against China’s third placed team just left Seoul fans scratching their head about why they start each league season so poorly and hoping that the hangover won’t continue this week against Sangju.  Expect this item to become a meme in the coming weeks…

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Choi gives an inspirational HT team talk

5. Jeonbuk get a lot of soft decisions in their favour

You would think that being owned by the company that also owns the company that has been the league’s main sponsor for the past six years and has also sponsored the referees and whose chairman, Chung Mong-Joon, was chairman of the KFA and a vice-president of FIFA until he got a 6 year ban from all football activities for corruption would mean that you might benefit from a bit of favouritism on the pitch.  Unfortunately for Ulsan Hyundai, as we established just now, they are cack.  On the other hand, Jeonbuk Motors, which is owned by  his nephew and is a subsidiary of his elder brother’s company quite often seem to get the rub of the green. (Editor’s note: Groan!)

Whatever strange forces are at work, the 48 Shades boys have noted on numerous occasions that the ref seems to giving soft decisions to Jeonbuk and not much in favour of the opposition.  Anyway, if the opposition are Jeonbuk expect penalties and free-kicks galore every time the Wookie trips over his shoelaces and nothing for when Leonardo goes all Mutant Ninja Turtle on your best striker. They say that what goes around, comes around but that’s only true in this case if you transfer to another club and line up against Jeonbuk…

Jeonbuk launch a new joint venture to boost brandng
Jeonbuk launch a new joint venture to boost brandng

 

ACL Half-term Report

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Yesterday marked the conclusion of Round3 of this year’s ACL group stage so it’s time for a half-term report. So who have been the class swots, the class clowns and those that should really get expelled for bringing the game into disrepute. Each ‘student’ gets a grade with a letter for effort and a score for ability. 

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Form E

Teams P W D L GF GA GD PTS
JEONBUK HYUNDAI MOTORS (KOR) 3 2 0 1 6 4 2 6
JIANGSU FC (CHN) 3 1 2 0 4 3 1 5
FC TOKYO (JPN) 3 1 1 1 4 3 1 4
BECAMEX BINH DUONG (VIE) 3 0 1 2 2 6 -4 1

Jeonbuk Hyundai  Grade : C1

Although Jeonbuk is top of the class, he appears to have been doing the bare minimum to get by including an underwhelming performace at home to Binh Duong and a loss in China. Must do better or may get overtaken after half-term.

Jiangsu Sainty Grade : B2

Jiangsu informed me that she returned late from her Winter holiday and this clearly had an impact early on in the term as she struggled with Vietnamese. Doesn’t seem to have made full use of her top quality new study aids.

FC Tokyo Grade : B3

Tokyo has performed reasonably okay but needs to up his game if he wants to fulfil his potential.

Binh Duong  Grade : A4

Not everyone can go to Oxford and we are all about fulfilling potential. Binh Duong has improved greatly from last year and has exceeded my expectations.

Form F:

Teams P W D L GF GA GD PTS
FC SEOUL (KOR) 3 3 0 0 14 2 12 9
SHANDONG LUNENG FC (CHN) 3 2 0 1 6 5 1 6
SANFRECCE HIROSHIMA (JPN) 3 1 0 2 5 6 -1 3
BURIRAM UNITED (THA) 3 0 0 3 0 12 -12 0

FC Seoul Grade :  A1

If Seoul keeps up this level of performance, he looks certain to get a prize come prize-giving.  Has been the star of this class, answering all questions thrown at it with answers way above what is expected at this level.

Shandong Luneng   Grade : B2

Started brightly but has faded badly in recent weeks.  The results of her last test were nothing short of disastrous and I wonder if she did any studying for it at all.  Needs to pull her socks up if she hopes to progress.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima  Grade : C3

Started the year with a good reputation but has not shown any of that potential so far.  Her answers to questions are superficial at best and she has struggled with the tougher elements of the course.  Much work will be required in the second half of term if she wants to pass.

Buriram United  Grade :  D4

Having taught Buriram before I have seen firsthand how he has blossomed in recent years. This year however has seen him take a step backward and I fear that he will have to repeat the year.  He has seemed distracted and disorganised; perhaps you could arrange to come and see me and we can discuss any troubles you may be having outside of the classroom and how to try and salvage this academic year.

Jeremy Paxman gives his view of Seoul v Buriram
Jeremy Paxman gives his view of Seoul v Buriram

Form G:

Teams P W D L GF GA GD PTS
SHANGHAI SIPG (CHN) 3 2 0 1 5 4 1 6
MELBOURNE VICTORY (AUS) 3 1 2 0 3 2 1 5
GAMBA OSAKA (JPN) 3 0 2 1 2 3 -1 2
SUWON SAMSUNG BLUEWINGS FC (KOR) 3 0 2 1 1 2 -1 2

Shanghai SIPG Grade : A2

It’s always tough being the new kid in school but Shanghai has adapted relatively well and tops Form F at half-term.  Apart from that unseemly fight with Melbourne, she has been a leader in the classroom and looks to have a head older than her years.  Keep up the good work!

Melbourne Victory   Grade :  B2

I am aware that Melbourne lives quite far away from school and she sometimes seems tired by the commute.  Her performance in the debate against Suwon was slightly disappointing given that it was supposed to be her specialist subject, her home turf if you will…with more long trips to come there is no room for complacency.

Gamba Osaka  Grade : C3

I think this has been a disappointing half-term for Gamba.  After his strong performance last year and nomination as a potential prefect I expected more than his tepid performance.  I know he has often started slowly in the past but there is a real risk of him being left behind this year.

Suwon Samsung Grade  : D4

This year was always going to be tough for Suwon but she hasn’t put in the necessary effort and seems to be lacking the teeth for the fight. Suwon will have to focus on her goals for the rest of the term if she wants to avoid being put in the bottom set for the rest of the year.

Form H:

Teams P W D L GF GA GD PTS
SYDNEY FC (AUS) 3 2 0 1 3 3 0 6
POHANG STEELERS (KOR) * 3 1 1 1 1 1 0 4
URAWA RED DIAMONDS (JPN) * 3 1 1 1 4 3 1 4
GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE (CHN) 3 0 2 1 3 4 -1 2

Sydney FC   Grade : A2

Sydney has handled the long commute to school better than expected and this is reflected in his grade for the half-term.  Given that he has opted for home-schooling for most of the second half of term, I am optimistic that he can get a good result come the end of term exams.

Pohang Steelers Grade : B2

It’s always tough being the younger brother at a school where your siblings have excelled and we have tried to moderate our expectations for the latest Steeler sibling. Results over the half-term have been mixed with decent performances on his Chinese and Japanese tests but a disastrous effort on his essay on From Summer Bay to The OC: a Treatise on Home and Away Actors’ success in Hollywood, which frankly was garbage. Pohang is still in with a good shout of finishing the term well but will need to demonstrate which is his true self.

Urawa Reds  Grade :   C3

A topsy-turvy half-term for Urawa.  He started strongly, faltered in the middle and came back right at the end.  If he maintains his momentum, he could still make the top set.

Guangzhou Evergrande  Grade :  D4

Massively disappointing from last year’s star pupil.  Has looked distracted all term and I wonder if she has issues at home.  The decline in performance has been astounding and I wonder if we should have a chat about signs of drug-use or abuse as declines of this level are normally a cry for help.  While there is still time for things to turn around, it will not be easy at all.

'Big Phil' accepts his 48 Shades report card.
‘Big Phil’ Scolari receives his 48 Shades report card.

KLeague Classic Kits – Championship group

A couple of days ago we gave you our take on the six kits that we thought were Classhit and now it’s time to give go through the remaining the kits, the ones that are so Classchic, they’ll gain you entry to Gold Bar, the swishest nightclub in Itaewon.  (Editor’s Note: Swisher night clubs may be available but 48 Shades hasn’t yet figured out how to monetise the podcast and thus we are committed to establishments where the drinks are cheap and the bingsu cheaper).

Incheon Home

Incheon

Rumour has it that Incheon play in black and blue to complement the bruises that their fans accumulate after another punch up with the opposition fans.  48 Shades hope it is only a coincidence that Incheon have brought out a kit with black and blue stripes in the same season that the FC Seoul Suhoshin supporters have decided to increase the number of flags that their fans will wave at matches.  Of course being a Hummel kit, it has the ubiquitous chevron watermark.

Pohang Home

Pohang

Only two chevrons on this kit…perhaps Hummel had run out by this point?  At first glance 48 Shades liked this kit but it has one major flaw that makes us think perhaps we were too hasty in relegating the god-awful Gwangju kit.  For us, the fact that the bottom hoop is black makes it look like either his shorts are falling down or he’s got hip-hop shorts on. 48 Shades has been to Pohang and gangsta it is not!

Jeonbuk Home

Jeonbuk

48 Shades imagines the design process for this kit went something like this:

Choi Kanghee:  I want something that reflects the lightning quick pace of the Gook and the Wookie!

FC Seoul-supporting winter intern: downloads the lowest resolution lightning bolt clip art he can find and blows it up 1,00o times before pasting it on the shirt.

Still, anything is better than 2011’s watermelon peel effort!

Seoul home

Seoul

Le Coq Sportif came in for a lot of stick for last year’s effort which was nicknamed the braces kit because the design of the stripes made it look like the players were wearing black braces over a red shirt. Still, reaction has been pretty positive to this knock-off AC Milan kit with thin stripes and a granddad collar. The club has brought out two new strips this year but instead of a home and away kit, they’ve brought out two home ones, with a special ACL one which has slightly thicker stripes and a white proper collar (also an AC Milan knock-off).

Seongnam Home

Seongnam

In a move which is sure to inspire Mark to buy this year’s kit, Seongnam have switched supplier from the relatively unknown Spanish manufacturer Arbol to globally-renowned English kit manufacturer Umbro.  For their first design, they appear to have incorporated a touch of Englishness into the formerly all black kit by adding a white trim to the sleeves and adding the regal-sounding Jubilee Bank as sponsor in a font which I’m pretty sure is called QEII cursive.  Assume they actually produce this in a size large enough to fit him, I fully expect to see him crooking his little finger while sipping tea at this year’s Seongnam home games.

Sangju Home

Sangju

Rumour has it that this kit is part of a Rorschach psychological test that will be given to all potential new recruits for the army team.  48 Shades took the test and saw loss after loss after loss followed by swift relegation…

 

The K-Advent Calendar Day 25 – Red Card

Day25 - Red Card

Good friend of the podcast and faithful listener Ally asked if there would be a giant Mars Bar or such on Day 25 and being the traditionalists that we are, originally there wasn’t going to be.  But, as was the case on numerous occasions during the 2015 season, we totally missed a red card! Folks, we’ll try and do better this season!

The K-Advent Calendar Day 24 -How do you wrap up a podcast?

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So here it is, the final day of our K-advent calendar…we hope you’ve enjoyed our wander thru the highlights (and some lowlights) of a day out at a typical K-League game.  Of course, now that we’ve whetted your appetite you’ll all be itching to follow all the ups (FC Seoul/Seongnam/Beer Girls) and downs (Suwon Bluewings) of the whole season and if you’ve listened to this week’s podcast you’ll know that that’s not particularly easy.

So, given the dire state of the official websites we hope you’ll keep coming back to our blog for various features throughout the season and our weekly podcast for p/reviews of the week’s matches and key issues in the game. (Editor’s note: other shades of English language K-League action may be available but they won’t be as partisan!)

The K-Advent Calendar Day 23 – Podcast Rivalries

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K-Advent Day 23 – Podcast Rivalries

Football has an incredible knack of creating and some would say encouraging rivalries. From cities being divided by the colour of a scarf, managers resorting to gibbering wrecks after being wound up by another to brothers lining up against each other for different countries the game of football stirs passions like no other. We at 48 Shades are no different and with the new season upon us it’s time to put all our recent agreements and of course logic to one side and get ready for the opening day as nothing gets in the way of a good old fashioned rivalry quite as much as a rational outlook.

So before the season starts and things get as strained Val Kilmer’s belt we decided to give our opinion on the season ahead from our hugely non-biased and completely impartial viewpoints.

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The 48 Shades boys get ready to record the mid-season review

Q. Who is the player to watch this season?

A. Paul (FC Seoul) – Shin Jin Ho

A. Mark (Seongnam FC) – I know it’s obvious but Hwang Uijo again for me this season.

Q. Most anticipated match of the season?

A. Paul – The opening weekend away to Jeonbuk as based an ACL form Seoul might actually start the season with a bang.

A. Mark – Always the first away day to The Big Bird. Nothing better than beating them on their own patch.

Q. Highlight of 2015 season?

A. Paul – Kashima away as the TV stations messed up the coverage and only those in the ground saw the winner and experienced the emotion.

A. Mark – There’s a few but probably beating Incheon away in the middle of a monsoon with no roof. Absolutely chucking it down but nobody cared and sang for pretty much the 90 mins.

Q. Predicted league position for 2016?

A. Paul – Top.

A. Mark – 4th and clinching an ACL spot by winning the FA Cup.

Q. When do you think will be the official St. Bernard Matthews Day? (This is the day when it’s no long possible for Suwon Chickenwings to finish above our team in the league)

A. Paul – Round 30 I reckon

A. Mark – It’s been a few years since this happened but I’m going to say Round 33

kevin_keegan
I’ll tell you I will love it if the 48 Shades guys invite me on their podcast!