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The #KLeagueFM18 Challenges: Citizens Unite! [Part 1]

The K League Football Manager 2018 Challenges: The Daejeon Citizen Project

With the K League season yet to start, I thought it would be the time to start my foray into management. Luckily Daejeon Citizens FC had just parted ways with Lee Youngik and my CV had found it's way onto the top of the pile. The citizen owned club has been poor to say the least the last few seasons, so I can't do much worse than my predecessors.

New Manager Arrives

Beginning of my reign as Daejeon manager started with my assistant manager Park Chul informing me that the large majority of my talented players are currently serving their second year of military service at Asan and Sangju respectively. Although I suppose having them next year is better than not at all...

Onto brighter things, the team at my disposal is fairly decent. With the likes of Kim Jin-Kyu my best and only 4 and 1/2 star player. Having young talent in the form of Hwang In-Beon with immense potential and being only 20 years old will be a huge help, to achieve the Korean only dream. However, the lack of overall quality and worryingly leadership is a big concern. Didn't help when Park Chul told me the poor mental state will cause "Significantly impact players positioning". Straight onto a preseason of 6 week team cohesion then!


Preseason Friendlies

My first game in charge was against Jeonbuk Hyundai the kings of Korean football right now, needless to say my band of merry unfit men didn't last long. Conceding in both halves resulted in a 2-0 final score at home, in fairness we were lucky to get out of the game with that. This prompted me to change my tactics from the 4-4-2 during the next five games to the 4-3-3.

I'm normally a very defensive possession hungry type of manager, who in a past life won the Classic with Gwangju with a 5 at the back but the Daejeon fans want goals. The next 4 friendlies came against considerably weaker competition within those 4 games we conceded 1 goal and scored 11, collecting 12 hypothetical friendly points.

There was a gap of time before my last preseason friendly of Incheon at home so I used this time to complete transfers and look forward to a game I had decided we would win.


With the squad being depleted mainly because of army service, and the overall squad apart from a few bright sparks is fairly poor to middling. It was time for a overhaul. So i sent out the scouts! All one of them..luckily Kim Won-Kyoo is a okay scout for the club, and willing to travel across Korea for cheap.

TL:DR Brought in seven players overspent on one, and got some absolute free transfer bargains.

With this being my first management position I was pleasantly surprised, when I was given a transfer budget of 350k to spend. After reviewing the squad in a useless friendly to Jeonbuk 2-0, I realized depth was a bit of a issue. My initial aim was to bring in some defensive options in case of aging or injuries.

Having players like 30 year old Park Joo-Sung, 31 Kim Jin-Kyu and 29 Yoon Sin-Young in my defence could be a issue down the stretch especially if I make it into playoffs. With that being said I started my search.

I sent my scout out with a simple mission. 'Cheap, Young-ish, Versatile and most importantly Korean'. After thumbing through multiple reports I settled on Choi Woo-Jae. Ability wise admittedly he is on the low end, but being able to play both CB and RB for £400p/w is enough to get me to interested. Most famous for a handful of appearances for Gangwon I expect him to be a simple utility player. Transfer Rating 5/10 

Next up came three signings who joined on the same day, who will go on to have a phenomenal preseason. Inspired by my luck with a free transfer already I searched the market for three 'Star' K league Challenge players.

First up comes probably the most notable name being You Ho-Jun, he might be on the wrong side of 30 being 32 this could be a issue for fitness but his pure talent at this level is undeniable. Having played over 90 games in the Classic this could be the midfield tutor for my young talent I'm looking for, and a useful stepping stone to for the future. At £1.1k p/w he seems like a steal baring any injuries. Transfer Rating 7/10

Coming through the Daejeon door next was Koh Rae-Se, who I would describe as a fast skillful winger with room for growth at the age of 24. Although he has been without a club for the last two years since Gyeongnam's relegation, he doesn't seem to have lost any of his ability even if he only played 6 games in as many years... However his preseason form was stellar and he fits a role of Left Wing that is currently unfilled. Transfer Rating 6/10

Lastly was Kim Sung-Hyun, at 23 years old and being able to play multiple roles with a completed military service as well he looks like a useful possible starter. Another CB option with his ability is never a bad thing especially for free, I did have to promise him promotion by 2019 but we should do that right? Right? Transfer Rating 6/10

Onto the cash transfers, after much deliberation Moon Chang-Hyun joined, names such as the old Daejeon legend Park Sung-Ho were thrown around but I felt Moon from Seongnam would be a better fit for the future and style we would play this year. Especially being a decade younger than his counter part. At only 53k to prey him away was in my opinion good business, but if by May he is on less than 10 goals then I'll reconsider. Transfer Rating 5/10

The next two transfers saw my budget quite exhausted, at a whopping £160k from yet again Gyeongnam was Lee Gwan-Pyo. Before Park-Chul could judge me for overspending on a player with only K league Challenge experience, I explained that he is 22 years old with potential at CM with strong leadership qualities. I see him as the future Ho-Jun, his ability right now isn't 160k worthy but one to track for the future. Transfer Rating 5/10

In the same position but possibly more talented came the now former Suwon Bluewings player Eun Sung-Su. Costing 33k the deep lying play maker fits a creative role that we were just lacking going forward. With the promise of K League Classic in two years he made his way down to Daejeon on a 3 year contract worth £800 p/w. This could be the signing of the season as long as the military don't come calling. Transfer Rating 8/10

On a sadder note my ludicrous offer to Daegu for Cho Hyun-Woo was accepted, he packed his bags and was on his way. The moment he got off the bus and saw Park Chul's face he started laughing all the way back to Daegu..maybe next year.

Incheon Friendly

This was it the last preseason game, I had decided this was going to be the test of how well my season would go. My starting line up featured a lot of the new transfer boys, eagerly awaiting reviewing their performances and seeing if their play matched my dreams coming into this match.


The line up for the match was close to my ideal starting 11 for most Challenge games this year so it's important that we don't get embarrassed here. Tactically they had been told to retain the ball and look for the overlapping wingers in Chan-Hee and Rae-Se, I was hopeful going into this game as both had provided lethal crosses and runs in the matches against primary school teams.

Kick off, the stadium was packed to the brim! if that brim was 1,872. Mind you 466 of that was Incheon fans so at least they traveled in numbers. Incheon had been respectful playing close to their first team in this match. My hope started to dwindle when I saw the huge Bosnian Gordon Bunoza warming up for Incheon but the roar of the thousand citizens behind me filled the stadium with hope.

That hope however was crushed in 12 minutes. A free kick to Incheon around the half way line, led to a cross into the box to the foot of guess who, yep Bunoza who riffled it into the top corner leaving Su-Hyun with not a chance. No matter how bleak this was, what did give hope for a comeback, was that this had come against the run of play. Up until this point we had dominated possession 64/36. Creating 5 shots to 2, maybe this was just a blip on the way to a 2 - 1 comeback!

Hope was crushed again in the 29th minute. A free kick to incheon again near the half way line was crossed into my only now just realising 'small' defense. The ball was met by Bunoza again for his and Incheon's second. Seeing him running to the fans is a sight I don't want to see again in the future.  We got the players in for half time, told them they were just unlucky. They were statistically 63/37% possession and more shots but as everyone knows goals wins games and Bunoza had them.

Going into the second half being that it was a friendly, and being 2-0 down changes were made six to be exact mainly just for fitness and the formation remained the same. Chances were few and far between in the second half for Daejeon, lots of the ball but couldn't get the final ball or the shot away before Chapman kicked it away.  Then in the 73rd came the killer, a easily defend able cross came in from the right and fall into the Incheon wingers feet for him to poke home. 3-0. Even in the friendly I could hear the Citizens boo.

Final score 3-0 Incheon. We had dominated the ball, more chances more shots but the difference between Classic and Challenge was shown, they were just more clinical but this would just be the start of my own personal rivalry with Incheon.

I may have finished my friendly campaign off with a loss in a very Daejeon like fashion, but progress has been made. We look like a team who will compete in the Challenge, at least that's what I tell the ajummas as I escape in the rain. 

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