Week 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.
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.
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.
Referee’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.
Referee’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.
Referee’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.
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.
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.