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2015 K League Classic Grades

For the past week at K-League United we've been reviewing the 2015 K League season. From promotion/relegation playoff previews, to handing out awards and filling in the Best XI, we’re leaving no stone unturned. Now, the grades are in and it's time to assess each team's performance from the year that was.


Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors: Winning the K-League years running hasn't been done in 13 years. Jeonbuk could very well have had nominations for all MVP spots as well as every position in the Best 11 section for the K-League awards. The + gets added on for the team going out and promoting themselves in the community to get the big boost in attendance records.
– Lex


Seongnam FC: Last year, they finished in 9th and were dreadful all season long, but lucked out unexpectedly and won the FA Cup on penalties. This year, with not much being expected of them, they became the first citizen club to finish in the top 6 since the K-League instituted the split. Seongnam also made it to the knockout rounds of the ACL and ran eventual champions Guangzhou Evergrande very close, losing on aggregate 3-2. With the emergence of striker Hwang Eui-jo, the brilliant signing of Kim Do-heon, and the savvy of coach Kim Hak-beom, Seongnam were able to exceed all expectations.
–  John Emanuelson  @emanus7


Incheon United: Many expected Incheon United to be among the teams that would be fighting to get relegated to the K-League Challenge. Kim Do Hoon, who took the job as the new coach, imposed his style pretty well. The addition of Matej Jonjic gave Incheon one of the best defenses in the league. Incheon United had a pretty great season in general, reaching the FA Cup for the first time and missing the top six by a few points. If they can find a way to fix the offense, they would probably be in the top six and fight for an ACL spots next season.
–  Marc-Élie Guay  @H1ZUMI


FC Seoul: Started out poorly for the third year in a row, but rebounded nicely. Winning the FA Cup and beating Suwon two out of three times is quite nice as well. I wish it had not taken Choi Yong-soo five months to get the team playing well, but they have peaked at the right time. If Seoul can hang onto Osmar and Adriano and sign a quality CB, I see no reason why they cannot win the league next year. Unlike last year, with more wins, points, and goals scored, optimism abounds. 
–  John Emanuelson  @emanus7


Suwon Samsung Bluewings: A season's success or failure can come down to fine margins; if Suwon had've held out for the final ten minutes against Jeonbuk at the end of July then they might well have been crowned champions. As it is, they conceded two late goals and finished six points adrift of the leaders. Seo Jeong-Won has created an exciting, free-scoring side with strength in depth, despite the budget cuts. A sprinkle of star-dust in the form of a top level player or two to replace Kaio and Mitsanski might be enough to win the league next year. Overall, Suwon's league form deserves an 'A', but their cup form was disappointed; they were knocked out at the first opportunity by Jeonnam in the FA Cup, and would have hoped to progress further in the Champions' League, hence the A-.
– Steve Price  @kleaguefootball


Gwangju FC: Goal for this season? Simple. Survive to play another season in K-league Classic. Managed by Nam Ki-Il, Gwangju FC aggressively pressed opponents and comfortably finished 10th in overall table. It wasn’t easy. Universiade Gwangju 2015 forced Gwangju FC to briefly relocate and play homes games in Mokpo International Football Center. It even caused Gwangju FC to play 10 straight away games. If that wasn’t enough, the pitch was a mess once the event was over.
– Takeuchi  @Takeuchee


Jeju United: An excellent start to the season that saw us in second place after nine games was ruthlessly cut short due to injuries and long term suspension. The following poor form was turned around just in time for us to slip into the top six and give the season a little of the success it had promised early on. Some good attacking play gave the fans plenty to shout about and suggests that with a little more experience and consistency next season could be a cracker!
–  Duncan Elder  @KLeagueReview


Pohang Steelers: Pohang were widely tipped to be challenging for the title during the summer but a relatively weak start to the season put a huge, Jeonbuk sized dent in that plan. Their foreign signings struggled to settle, which combined with injuries meant the goals were not as free flowing as the fans would have hoped. However their solid defence and pretty style of football eventually resulted in a 15 game unbeaten streak that saw them grab the final ACL place. The departing Hwang Sun Hong has left them in a very strong position and I'm sure they will be expected to step up next year and make a more sustained challenge for the title.
–  Duncan Elder  @KLeagueReview


Ulsan Hyundai: Richly backed and therefore ever ambitious, seventh-placed Ulsan Hyundai FC – who have now missed out on top 6 only twice since 2000 – arguably make for the biggest under-performers of the season. No clue about the most suitable formation, plenty of hoofed balls to tall strikers, playing style totally ignoring a formidable pair of fullbacks, the rather dramatic decline of Server Djeparov – this all contributed heavily to the particularly underwhelming first part of the season. Ultimately, even Kim Shin-wook’s fabulous September-November form and his total of 18 goals hadn’t managed to repair much.
– Tomas Danicek  @TomDanicek


Jeonnam Dragons: If told at the beginning of the season the Dragons would finish 9th overall, not many would've blinked. However, after the Dragons astounding May-July run of 9 wins out of 13, there's more than a small sense of disappointment. The emergence of Mislav Oršić, continued growth of Lee Jong-ho, and Ristić's presence up top provided the most dynamic offensive threat in the league... for three months. The Dragons were able to ride the three-pronged attack all the way to 3rd in the league and on a surprising semi-final FA Cup run. Unfortunately neither of the lofty positions were to last. The 9 in 13 run was followed by 12 winless in league play and a woefully dull 2-0 loss to Incheon in the FA Cup. In a season where ACL seemed amazingly feasible, dropping the FA Cup and failing to even make the top 6 is unacceptable.
– Ryan Walters  @MrRyanWalters


Busan I'Park: Not much was expected with both Lim Sang-hyub and Fagner leaving, but 'disastrous' is probably the only word for this season. A leaky defense, non-existent offense, and weak mentality all combined to see Busan, a founding member of the league + 4-time winner, relegated. A big upheaval is expected during the offseason, and it will be a long road back to the Classic.
– Jae Chee  @armchairregista

Daejeon Citizen: Daejeon endured an absolute disastrous season due to mismanagement on the touchline and indeed at boardroom level. One fears what will become of the Purples next season under Coach Choi and his scatter gun recruitment policy.
– Paul Neat  @NeatPaul


  1. Loved this. Well done. And well done on the Lee, Ki-Je to Ulsan exclusive (via KORFootballNews). Folks in Oz had no idea.

    1. Thanks for the compliment! Glad you enjoyed reading the grades. It's something we'll plan on doing at the half way point of next season as well as at the end.

      When it comes to transfers, we bow to our KORFootballNews overlords. They're always on top of their game. Should have a running post for transfer updates done soon though, so keep an eye out.


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