K-League 2021 – Relegation Battle Round 3

Well there have been two rounds of matches since my last post and I don’t think many people would’ve predicted the outcomes of most of those games as Seongnam defeated Pohang, Pohang humiliated Gangwon, and Gwangju completely bottled it in a 2nd half collapse that saw them blow a 3-0 lead to FC Seoul with 30 minutes remaining and end up pointless….in more ways than one!

Gangwon’s 4-0 defeat midweek to Pohang has finally seen the departure of one of the most over-rated managers to coach a K1 team since Agent Hwang almost relegated FC Seoul a few years back. Kim Byung-soo, the much fawned over mastermind behind “Byungsoo-ball”, has finally had his jotters and p45 handed to him (yeah they’re British expressions). “Byungsoo-ball” was successful for all of one game against FC Seoul just as masks and COVID hit the land of the morning calm and in reality it’s been an underachieving disaster ever since. Speaking of FC Seoul, what exactly is it going to take to relegate them? They’ve flirted with relegation three of the last four seasons but have managed to find the victories, and penalties, at exactly the right time much to the groans of almost every English speaking football fan in Korea.

Kim Byung-soo
photo courtesy of Yonhap

The other surprising results came from Seongnam who, with arguably their hardest possible start, managed to defeat Pohang and draw with Incheon, a match in which they led for most of the first half. Kim Nam-il is not a popular figure among the fans in black but there is no denying the former Incheon player’s ability to motivate his team to fight for a result when they most need it, shown last year as they saved their K1 skins with about 15 minutes of the season remaining. They look like they have enough about them to get the point or two that they need to stay up this year again and if they are able to get something from their weekend clash with FC Seoul the fans might even get to enjoy the last home game of the season when Gwangju come to town. Of course by enjoy I mean, hang banners saying “Kim Out!” and refuse to acknowledge him at full-time when he approaches to applaud them.

Kim Nam-il in happier times!! Not that you can tell with that sulking face!

Which brings us to Gwangju, as I can’t be bothered to write about ACL finalists and all-round bottlers Pohang. What can we say about the team at the bottom of the crapheap? They led 2-1 against Gangwon and drew, they led 3-0 against Seoul and lost, if ever a team deserved to get relegated it was them. They also play miles away from my house so to be honest I wanted them relegated in January. Any team that punts Felipe during a relegation deserves everything that comes to them and seriously any team that signs him in the first place also deserves a place in footballing hell forever. Yeah I’m not a fan of the league’s biggest bruiser but equally most fragile 6ft plus player.

And so that’s my review of the bottom six, and as for this weekend’s matches? Gwangju to lose, Gangwon to lose and Seoul to deserve to lose but probably win just basically because…you know….GS!

Here’s my predictions for the final league positions and it’s the first time since 2019 that I didn’t think Seongnam would be in the bottom two….Nam Ki-il we miss you!!

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