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2018 Season Review: Seoul E-Land

K League 2018 Season Review: Seoul E-Land

After 36 games, spread across nine months in the K League 2, 2018 has finally ended for Seoul E-Land in what was more than just another disappointing season for the Leopards in the second tier of Korean football. Seoul set out to rejuvenate themselves, from a poor season in 2017, when they started back in March. However, the side managed to finish dead last, in what was a disastrous year for everyone involved at the club.

What Went Well

If there were any real positives to come out of this year for Seoul E-Land, it was that they managed to cut down the number of draws that they accumulated in the previous campaign. only seven draws in 2018, compared to 14 last year, is an indication that they worked on not settling with a point in the league and not being happy with a level game against anyone in the division.

Another positive would be that they actually bettered their points tally on last season, 37 points were awarded to the Leopards, compared to only 35 last year. Even though they did end the year with more points, it was a clear indication that they did not evolve with the rest of the league. If Seoul claimed 37 points last year, it would have awarded them 8th position, yet this year, they could only manage last.

Another positive to come out of the season is that they managed to go undefeated against Ansan Greeners, with three wins and one draw. A glimmer of consistency from a side who were so inconsistent for so much or the year. They also managed two big wins against Suwon FC, a side they have not beaten for three years prior to those fixtures.

What Didn't Go Well

Where to start, The tactical arrangement for Seoul E-Land this season became almost comical. Every game saw either a different tactic or a completely different set of players in the starting 11. In Chang-soo was almost picking the team blind and not making any logical decisions in his team selection. Dropping players such as Ivan Herceg, Diego Bielkiewicz and benching Choi Oh-back, were puzzling move's on the gaffer's behalf. Furthermore, putting the center back Jeon Min-gwang up front for three games near the end of the season, really put his position into question, for the Jamsil faithful.

Seoul lacked courage and belief in the year. They looked like a team who could not work well with one another and tried a number of tactics at the same time to try to go ahead in a game. Their 5-0 demolition by Busan, was a massive turn in their season, as they never really recovered from such a heavy defeat. There was no confidence in the dressing room and it really showed on the pitch, both home and away.

Young Player of The Season

For me, Seoul E-Land had one standout young player this year in the side. Cho Jae-wan. The midfielder who turned 23 in August had a great season for the leopards in 2018.

In his first season with the club, he made 16 appearances and managed to register six goals as well. He is a player who certainly had a better first half of the season, with all of his goals coming before July. He will be remembered especially for his last minute winner against Ansan Greeners in late April.

A quick player who is always running into space and looking the best run with the ball at his feet. Cho Jae-wan has a fantastic burst of quick energy and was a great boost for the side when they were doing slightly better during the middle of the year.

With his young age and respectable stats, it may be an issue keeping the Korean in the capital for next year, especially if some K League 1 clubs come forward with a good offer.

Team MVP

In a team which has really disappointed in the way that they have this season, choosing an MVP for Seoul is no easy task. Although, if there was one player truly worthy of this award, it would be Kim Young-kwang. The experienced goalkeeper has been with Seoul E-Land since the club's inception and really leads the side through these tough times.

No one can doubt Glory's will to win and succeed at E-Land, as even though they ended the season in last place, Kim Young-kwang managed to register 11 clean sheets throughout the season. Kim, who even has an ACL medal to his name when playing with Ulsan Hyundai, is 35 now and it will be interesting to see how much longer the Leopards can rely on such a valuable talent between the sticks.

An honourable mention must also go to Cho Chan-ho, who managed to score five goals this season from a midfield position in only 13 games. With the ex-FC Seoul player in his mid-30s now, it is understandable how his game time has dwindled, but it would have been very interesting to see if he played a few more games for E-Land, and if he could have boosted the side when needed.

Most Disappointing Player

It's very difficult to say which player was the most disappointing, after the effort that was put in from the team this year. The blame for a single player at E-Land is simply just unfair.

If there was one player who was rather disappointing this season, however, may as well be Gam Han-sol. At 24 years old and into his second season at E-Land, many fans were expecting big things from the player this year. In truth, he only managed to play 13 games this year, compared to 21 games in 2017. The majority of those games were also off the subs bench which meant he only actually played half the time this year as he did in the last campaign.

Gam Han-sol will have time for redemption if he stays at Seoul E-Land, as he does have age on his side.

Most Important Decision of the Off Season

There are a number of alarming things that need to change at Seoul E-Land if they are to convince the fans and the rest of the league that they are still taking professional football seriously.

Firstly, In Chang-soo may have to go. I understand that E-Land have a history of getting rid of managers too soon and managers who had long-term plans for success in their mind. However, In Chang-soo has made erratic decisions this year with team choices, formations, and mentality in the side. Seoul E-Land plays with no confidence and relies more on opponent errors rather than creating their own chances.

Second, they need to get at least two new signings to change the game in the squad. The first, a creative midfielder in the middle of the park, who can time and assess the situation for the rest of the team. Too many times this year, E-Land lost chances due to just lobbing the ball up field and hoping for the best. Relying on Choi Oh-back to get hold of the ball and push it into the box.

Finally, fans and the league need to know where Seoul E-Land will play next year. It is public knowledge now, that plans to refurbish the Seoul Olympic stadium will soon get underway, which will leave the leopards without a home, come March 2019.

However, it has been only speculation as to where they will play next year. The first idea was to play in Mokdong or Hyochang park. Yet both grounds have artificial turf, which is not allowed in the league. The idea of ground sharing with FC Seoul next year has also been flung amongst fans, but the question there would be; would they even open the Seoul World Cup stadium for 300 fans?

The newest rumor to come out recently with the ground issue is that the Olympic stadium could actually be playable in, come June or July. So a purposed idea for E-Land to play all their away games before the stadium's completion will be in question. Wherever Seoul end up next year, it would be nice for the fans to know where they stand in the predicament. A stadium is part of the identity of a team, and at the moment, E-Land are homeless.

The K League Untied Podcast

In the latest edition of The K League United Podcast, we review all ten K League 2 teams in depth with the help of our writing staff. You can tune in using the player below, or subscribe via iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts or TuneIn Radio. You can also catch the show on Football Nation Radio, every Thursday at 5pm Sydney Time (3pm KST).

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