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Seoul After 10 Games: the Checklist (Part I)

(I love Choi Yong-soo's passion- from youtube.com.)
Before the season started, I wrote a post about the importance of starting well in the first ten games.  I followed that up with an example of how poor starts in the first ten games over the last five years cost Seoul any chance at the league title in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015.  Finally, I created scientifically formulated, non-arbitrary checklist that a team could utilize on their march to the league championship.  Since Seoul's game against Jeju has been moved from May 22nd to June 6th and almost every team but two(Jeonbuk and Gwangju) have played 10 games, it is time to access how FC Seoul are doing based on my scientifically formulated, non-arbitrary checklist with each section receiving a letter grade.  Because there are many tables, the length is long, so I have split this post into two parts.

First, here is the league table after 10 games.  I have included the percentages for wins, draws, and losses along with goals for (plus average) and points (plus average).  The data is from soccerway.com and I have tried to put it into a table that looks beautiful and is easily read.

2016 K-League Classic Table After 10 Games
Rank
Team
P
W (%)
D (%)
L (%)
GF (avg.)
Pts. (avg.)
1
FC Seoul
10
7 (70%)
1 (10%)
2 (20%)
21 (2.1)
22 (2.2)
2
Jeonbuk
9
5 (56%)
4 (44%)
0 (0%)
16 (1.8)
19 (2.1)
3
Seongnam
10
5 (50%)
3 (30%)
2 (20%)
18 (1.8)
18 (1.8)
4
Jeju Utd.
10
5 (50%)
2 (20%)
3 (30%)
21 (2.1)
17 (1.7)
5
Sangju Sangmu
10
4 (40%)
2 (20%)
4 (40%)
18 (1.8)
14 (1.4)
6
Pohang
10
3 (30%)
4 (40%)
3 (30%)
11 (1.1)
13 (1.3)
7
Suwon Bluewings
10
2 (20%)
6 (60%)
2 (20%)
14 (1.4)
12 (1.2)
8
Ulsan
10
3 (30%)
3 (30%)
4 (40%)
7 (0.7)
12 (1.2)
9
Gwangju
9
3 (33.3%)
2 (22.2%)
4 (44.4%)
10 (1.1)
11 (1.2)
10
Suwon FC
10
1 (10%)
5 (50%)
4 (40%)
9 (0.9)
8 (0.8)
11
Jeonnam
10
1 (10%)
4 (40%)
5 (50%)
9 (0.9)
7 (0.7)
12
Incheon Utd.
10
0 (0%)
4 (40%)
6 (60%)
8 (0.8)
4 (0.4)

Now, I will move onto the checklist, but I will periodically reference the 2016 K-League Classic table after ten games.  On my checklist, there were seven items and the first involved coming out of the gate quickly.

(Probably the best game Seoul have played in the league, from SPOTV via youtube.com)
1.  Have a good start.

I stressed the importance for a team to start well and that they had to be no further than five or six points behind the league leader after ten games if they wanted to win the league.  The exception to the rule would have been Ulsan, who started poorly in 2013 and were somehow in first place near the end of the season, but they lost their last two games.  Pohang on the other hand, started phenomenally in 2013, collecting 28 out of 30 points and went on to win the league.  Here are how teams started from 2011 to 2015 in their first ten games and how they finished.  Again, all of the data that I used to make the tables below was from soccerway.com.

Best League Starts After 10  Games- 2011 to 2015
Year
Team
Points
Final
2011
Pohang
21/30
2nd
2012
Suwon Samsung
23/30
4th
2013
Pohang
28/30
1st
2014
Pohang
22/30
4th
2015
Jeonbuk
25/30
1st
Pohang in 2013 had the best start, only dropping 2 out of a possible 30 points, which is pretty amazing.  Suwon in 2012 and Pohang in 2014 started quite well, but faded down the stretch and finished in fourth.  Nonetheless, their starts were still good enough to qualify for the championship round when the league split after 30 games in 2012 and 33 games in 2014.

This year, Seoul have collected 22 out of 30 points, which is great for a team that traditionally starts so terribly.  However, I would feel better if they had over 24 points since being in first after ten games is no guarantee of winning the title.  This brings me to my next table.

How the Second Place Team Did After 10 Games- 2011 to 2015
Year
Team
Points
Final
2011
Jeonbuk
19/30
1st
2012
Ulsan
21/30
5th
2013
Suwon
20/30
5th
2014
Jeonbuk
20/30
1st
2015
Suwon
17/30
2nd
From 2011 to 2015, only two teams (2013, 2015) that were in first place after 10 games ended up being league champions.  In the three remaining years, two of the teams (2011, 2014) who were in second place became league champion.  There has only been one team, FC Seoul in 2012, who were not in first or second place after ten games that went on to become champions.  Here is a table that shows the league winner and their ranking after ten games along with the point differential.

League Winners and Their Position After 10 Games- 2011 to 2015
Year
Team
Pts.
Rnk.
Diff.
2011
Jeonbuk
19/30
2nd
2 points
2012
FC Seoul
19/30
4th
4 points
2013
Pohang
28/30
1st
N/A
2014
Jeonbuk
19/30
2nd
2 points
2015
Jeonbuk
19/30
1st
N/A
More than ranking, I think it is the differential in points that determines whether or not a team can make up the ground.  In 2011 and 2014, Jeonbuk were only two points behind, which is less than a game.  In 2012, FC Seoul was four points behind Suwon after ten games, but that is not very much either.

Even though Seoul are currently in first place this year, the fact that they only have a three point lead over Jeonbuk is a bit worrying considering how inconsistent the men in neon green have been. Jeonbuk, have been behind before and gone on to win the league twice, so this shows that they have the knowledge to overcome any minor deficits.

However, I think it is great that the front office and Choi Yong-soo have recognized the importance of starting well and did their best to address that issue in the off season.  This is from The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20160418001027):
Seoul head coach Choi Yong-soo lamented that Sin (Shin Jin-ho) will no longer be with the club at least for two years. Choi insisted on signing the midfielder during this past off season even though he knew Sin had to depart during the season.  "Our players often had slow starts to seasons and I wanted to Sin to fix this problem," Choi said. "But Sin performed better than my expectation. He will be remembered by our players and fans.
Grade: A+


(From diodeo.com)
2.  Win 60% of your games or average at least two points a game all season.

Here is a table of how each K-League Champion performed from 2011 through to 2015.

K-League Champions: 2011 to 2015
Year
Team
P
W
L
D
GF
GA
Pts.
Avg. Pts
2011
Jeonbuk
30
18 (60%)
9 (30%)
3 (10%)
67 (2.23)
32 (1.07)
63 (70%)
2.1
2012
FC Seoul
44
29 (66%)
9 (20%)
6 (14%)
76 (1.72)
42 (0.95)
96 (73%)
2.18
2013
Pohang
38
21 (55%)
11 (29%)
6 (16%)
63 (1.66)
38 (1.0)
74 (65%)
1.95
2014
Jeonbuk
38
24 (63%)
9 (24%)
5 (13%)
60 (1.58)
22 (0.58)
81 (71%)
2.13
2015
Jeonbuk
38
22 (58%)
7 (18%)
9 (24%)
57 (1.5)
39 (1.03)
73 (64%)
1.92
With the exception of Pohang in 2013 and Jeonbuk in 2015, every league champion in the last five years has won 60% of their games and averaged more than two points per game all season.  I would say that both of these teams are weak champions and would have lost out to the second place clubs in 2011, 2012, and 2014.  

Seoul, in 2016, have matched both of these marks.  They have won 70% of their games while the second place team, Jeonbuk, has won only 56% of the time.  If that trend continues throughout the season, Seoul should lift the trophy at the end of the season.  

However, while Seoul average over 2.2 points per game, Jeonbuk are right behind at 1.9 points per game, so that negates the fact that Seoul have won more games since Jeonbuk have yet to lose a game.  It is not inconceivable that Jeonbuk could overtake Seoul at some point in the year with the level of talent that they have.  Nonetheless, Seoul are doing quite well and if they continue to win 7 out 10 games, they should be crowned the K-League champions.

Grade: A+

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