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2018 Season Review: Ansan Greeners

2018 Season Review: Ansan Greeners K League 2
Another ninth placed finish for this new Ansan project, which saw some big highs and some very low lows. Three managers, an eleven game losing streak and a brief flutter with the summit of the league meant that this second season in the Greeners era was far more turbulent than the first. Whilst showing plenty of potential, there were also some possible warning signs for the future; Lim Win-seop ended the season at the helm as Ansan saw out the season with just one win from six.

What Went Well

Ansan flew up out of the blocks this season, with five wins and five draws from their opening twelve games, plus a 7-0 thrashing of Suwon University in the cup. However things soon began to unravel, with a lack of consistency in line-ups, formations, and even player roles, most notably when Conneh was removed from penalty-taking duties away at Busan, which was subsequently missed.

This led to a run of form were Ansan went from play-off contenders to bottom of the league with just eight points gained from a possible 48, and a run of nine straight defeats including a 1-0 home defeat to Asan in the cup. Lee Heung-sil, despite winning this division with Ansan Mugunghwa in 2016, was fired, with Lee Youngmin coming in as the interim.

What followed was a reverse in fortunes as Ansan picked up 11 points from their next six games under his tenure. Some highlights of the season include a rocket of a free kick from Jang Hyuk-jin, coming from behind to win with just nine men against Daejeon, and the aforementioned club record 7-0 win in the FA Cup against the University of Suwon.

2018 Season Review: Ansan Greeners
A Choi Ho-joo (C) penalty extended Ansan's run to six games unbeaten in all competitions back in April

What Didn't Go Well

That mid-season collapse mentioned above created a sense of despair amongst the Ansan faithful, and began to put question marks over the long term viability of this new Ansan team. The interim manager provided a spark to turn things around, but of concern is the last six games under new permanent manager Lim Win-seob, which left Ansan with just one win and two draws and a final day 4-0 thrashing in Gwangju. That said, he at least has been engaging the fans post-game so hopefully next season will see the club moving in the right direction. Injuries hampered Ansan throughout the season, with Choi Ho-joo and Lee Geon having lengthy spells out, and last season's top scorer and Ansan Foreign Supporters Club (AFSC) player of the season, Raul Tarragona, spending much of the season on the sidelines.

Team MVP

Another eight assists, to add to his 13 assist haul in 2017, and three goals, including a rocket of a free kick, led to Jang Hyuk-jin as being voted as the 2018 AFSC Player of the Season. Ansan are a different proposition without him, and he looks a cut above a lower league K2 team, not that the fans will want him to think that of course!

2018 Season Review: Ansan Greeners Jang Hyuk-jin
Jang Hyuk-jon (L) celebrates scoring a free-kick against Suwon FC in September
Honourable mentions go to Choi Ho-joo who looks a real threat in attack, defender Park Jun-hee who popped up with a couple of goals, and also youngster Lee Geon who gave some dazzling performances on the left this season, as well as playing in a variety of positions, from defence to attack.

Most Disappointing Player

Liberian striker Seku Conneh came to Ansan with a good scoring record with Bethlehem Steel in the US second tier. He started brightly as well, and looked a real nuisance in attack. His early season two goals would not be added to, and we want to see more from Conneh next season, given we know he can reach a higher level of performance. He did have one big highlight this season though, becoming the first Ansan player to be capped for a competitive full international when he came on as a substitute in an AFCoN qualifier for Liberia against Congo DR.

Most Important Decision of the Off Season

Ansan need to settle on a consistent style and make sure Jang Hyuk-jin is deployed consistently where he is most effective. Ansan also need to keep hold of Choi Ho-joo and Lee Geon and consider building their future attack around them. The goal needs to be to better ninth and maybe even keep the play-offs a possibility at least until late in the season.

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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