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Writer's Chat: Busan IPark and Daejeon Citizen Season Forecast

Both Busan and Daejeon were relegated from the K League Classic at the tailend of last year, culminising a disappointing year for both clubs. Busan's 33 year stay in the K League's top flight came to an end whilst Daejeon failed to capitalise on the momentum of the 2014 promotion winning year.



I sat down Busan IPark correspondant Jae-Hyeok to discuss the new season; uncharted territory for Busan, and a return to familar surroundings for Daejeon.

Paul to Jae

Relegation was always a possibility for Daejeon but would you agree that it's perhaps fair to say that very few people expected Busan to be relegated too?

Yeah, I think that’s fair. I don’t think many expected much from Busan, given the losses in attack (Lim Sang-hyub and Fagner), but I don’t think relegation was predicted. The team flirted with the idea in 2014, but ultimately avoided it fairly comfortably. I think that was what most thought would happen again in 2015. Didn’t happen of course.

I was at the opening fixture, Busan's 1-0 win over Daejeon at the Asiad. Busan could have had four or five goals that afternoon, things looked so positive. What went wrong?

Yeah, I was at that game too and had similar thoughts. At the risk of stating the obvious, Daejeon was just much worse than the other K League sides, so Busan looked better. But a more detailed answer would be that on the attacking side of things, Busan played the same the rest of the season. Could have had 4-5 goals on several occasions, but always failed to capitalize on their chances. That, combined with the leaky defense, meant that the team dropped many points that could have ultimately saved them.

I read your piece about the Asiad and the Gudeok a few months back, the pros and cons etc, will Busan be using the Gudeok this season, or was it a one off? You concluced that the Gudeok would perhaps be more suitable, do you think this is more so now that the club has been relegated?

At the moment, I’m not sure if the club will be at the Gudeok next season. Last I heard was that the club wanted to play there next season and were trying to make it work, but that it was not confirmed. I suppose as of now (as far as what the club/media is saying) is that the club will still be at the Asiad for 2016. I think the Gudeok probably would be better, even in its slightly rundown state, for the Challenge year. The Asiad is newer and in better shape, but anyone who’s been there knows the issues it has. To be honest, the Gudeok as it stands now isn’t a whole lot better, but it’s smaller and has plenty of history for fans to grab onto.

Was relegation a shock? At which point in the season did you start to think that this is going to be a relegation battle?

A shock? Yes and no. Part of me knew it was coming, or at least might be coming, about halfway through the year when the club was in it’s horrible run during the summer. But another part of me held onto belief we would avoid it in the end, right up until we lost to Gwangju in the first post-split match. Even then I held onto hope that things would turn around and we’d avoid it by winning the playoff match.

How do you think Busan will do this year? Is a promotion push realistic?

I think it’s realistic to assume they’ll have a solid chance. Daegu, Seoul E-Land, and Daejeon would presume to be the other challengers for promotion, and I think Busan can match them. That said I’m cautious about the chances. The team has made some solid additions (Ko Gyeong-min, Stojanovic, Lee Yeong-jae, etc) and will be boosted by the midseason return of Lim Sang-hyub from the army. However that’s a lot of new faces to integrate and form a solid team from. The defense will look completely different as well, and many are unproven, so it’s hard to predict how they’ll do. Finally the coaching staff is virtually all changed, so I can’t really say much about them. I’ll be positive once again, and say that Busan should at a bare minimum reach the playoffs, but should challenge for the title and have a decent shot at it.

At Daejeon there has been a lot of pessimism for the last few years but this is Busan's first relegation. What is the general mood amongst the supporters? 

Obviously, following the relegation the mood was very bad amongst supporters. A lot of anger was directed at Chung Mong-gyu and Byeon Young-gi, and they both worked quite hard to temper the fans anger. In the time that’s passed since then the anger has disapated quite a bit, and the mood feels much more positive. I think most have accepted the relegation and are confident about promotion chances.

Finally, which team do you think will finish higher; Busan or Daejeon?

 
Still catching up on what Daejeon has done this offseason, but I’d have to say Busan to finish higher. In the Challenge it seems like having one-two solid goal scorers is key, and Busan has grabbed a couple in Gyeong-min and Stojanovic. I think they can carry the team forward with Choi Seung-in and Lim Sang-hyub adding on when they slip up. The defense will hopefully be improved enough to stop most Challenge sides from scoring against us.

Daejeon on the other hand seems to have done much less this offseason. And the players they’ve brought in aren’t hugely confidence inspiring. I think they have enough to challenge for a playoff spot, but that’s about it.

Jae to Paul

Busan had a fairly productive offseason, overhauling the weak sections of the team and adding some quality and depth to others. How would you assess Daejeon’s offseason thus far?

Daejeon seem to like keeping the fans in the dark about transfers. Whether or not that’s generally what happens in the K League is another matter but it all seems somewhat cloak and dagger with Daejeon. Last season Daejeon had Wanderson on loan, he was one of the very few brightsparks during the season and someone who the fans wanted to see stay. The club have managed to do that but haven’t formally announced it. I find that quite strange because the club needs some positive PR, announcing something simple like signing like Wanderson would go a long way with the fans. Elsewhere it seems that Choi Moon-Sik wants a young, hungry squad. 

Daejeon never really got going last season, and was unable to really string together any decent series of results. Will the negativity and disappointment from such a poor season affect this season?

That’s very true. Even in 2013 when Daejeon were of course relegated they still managed to put up a bit of a fight. Last season they just seemed to roll over and die. The manager has overhauled the squad which could work in his favour or against. It all depends on how Daejeon start the season. A sticky start to the campaign could see negativity from the terraces which is bound to affect the players. In all honesty, I believe that enough time has passed for such negativity to be forgotten about, much like how you see things with Busan.

Daejeon seemed to play a short-passing game towards the end of the season, and statistically they ranked near the top in passing. Will they continue to play that kind of game in the Challenge?

The tika-taka passing game that Choi Moon-Sik adopted is somewhat of an emotive subject with the Daejeon faithful. It is quite an astonishing statistic that Daejeon ranked amongst the top passers in the league in terms of pass completion rates yet they were still relegated. I believe that in the Challenge this passing game will still be used and will be more effective. However, Daejeon did well playing direct and counter-attacking in 2014 utilizing the pace of Adriano. If the passing game is to work there needs to be someone pulling the strings in the middle. That could well be Kim Byung-Suk.

Last time in the Challenge, Daejeon relied heavily on Adriano’s goal to get them promoted. Is there any player that can carry them to promotion again?

Adriano is a modern day Daejeon legend because of his goals that, effectively, ensured promotion for Daejeon in 2014. For this reason I had no ill feelings towards him for leaving and joining Seoul. His replacement, though, could well be another Brazilian. Wanderson was billed as a defender when he joined midway through last season but was soon ushered forward once he showed how much of a threat he was in the opposing penalty area. He has the pace, the technique and the eye for goal to fire Daejeon to promotion certainly. For Daejeon’s sake I just hope that he gets the right service.

Hwang In-beom really caught the eye last season in his short time on the pitch before he got injured. Is he the real deal or a flash in the pan?

If managed properly he could be the real deal. Even at such a tender age he looked so comfortable on the ball and displayed a level of confidence that I have seldom seen before in the K League. Daejeon have remained somewhat tight-lipped on a lot of their transfer acitivity thus far but Hwang In-beom could be like a new signing. He has been in training and should be ready to go for the start of the season. I do fear, however, that a good season with Daejeon could see him being poached from a Classic team.

Which team do you think has a better shot at bouncing straight back? Busan or Daejeon?

I think Busan have a stronger chance. When it comes to Daejeon Citizen I have learned that the glass is usually half empty so I tend to err on the side of caution. It looks to me like Busan have been more proactive in the winter break and are really determined to bounce straight back. However, if Daejeon can get the service to Wanderson then they have a chance.

For a more indepth look at the 2016 K League season from a Daejeon perspective you can read it here.

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