The dynasties that dominated an era have something in common. It is a healthy internal competition that competes for qualifications before facing external competitors.
It is a well-known story that Jeonbuk Hyundai players, who achieved an unprecedented five consecutive victories in professional football in the 2010s, were selected due to their performance in practice matches ahead of official matches.
Ulsan Hyundai, which stole the title from Jeonbuk last year, is walking a similar path this year. Ulsan striker Joo Min-gyu met with reporters at Munsu Soccer Field in Ulsan on the 9th and said, “I am also curious about who will start.” The members also change every time, so Ulsan is a team without a fixed starter.”
Joo Min-gyu cited himself as an example of being the top scorer on the team (6 goals, 1 assist). Boasting the most goals in the K-League 1 for two 안전놀이터 years from 2021, when he became the top scorer in Korea, his number of starts was 8 out of 12 games this year. It happened while sharing the opportunity to play with Hungarian national team member Martin Adam (1 goal and 2 assists in 4 starts).
Joo Min-gyu said, “First of all, I want to say that I have no complaints about the competition,” and after rhyming, “Adam and I have different styles and strengths. Coach Hong Myung-bo judges the opponent like a knife and decides the order to go into the game. If you wear a vest the day before a game, you are usually sure of starting. It’s hard to predict because it keeps changing. You always have to develop yourself and keep preparing.”
Then he said, “Maybe that’s why these days, when Adam runs, he pays attention to screen play and shooting. He may have natural strength, but using his hands or arms is unusual. If I learn this, I will also develop.”
Ulsan’s fierce internal competition is also confirmed in the participation records of the entire squad this year. The number of players is 31, the minimum of 12 clubs, and 28 players have played at least one game. Excluding the two backup goalkeepers who are difficult to get a chance unless the main goalkeeper is injured or disciplined, there is only one player who has not been appointed. Even this player has a career in the national team who would be guaranteed a starter in any other club, so it is worth guessing his fierceness.
What is surprising about Ulsan’s internal competition is the fact that there are no players who oppose this situation. Joo Min-gyu said, “I respect the professional attitude of players who have never played a game. It’s natural to be upset, but we didn’t show it once in training or in life,” he said. “We have a strong sense of coming together as a team.”
An official from Ulsan hinted, “There may be a player’s natural attitude, but it is also essential that veteran players hold the weight.” This is because Lee Cheong-yong, whose frequency of playing on the bench has increased significantly this season, and playing coach Park Joo-young, etc., were often seen taking care of players who could not play. Joo Min-gyu laughed and said, “I’ve heard that, but he hasn’t taken me there yet.”
Coach Hong feels sorry for pushing the players into fierce competition, but is grateful that they endure well. Unlike previous years, Manager Hong explained that it was not easy to allocate opportunities for the Asian Champions League (ACL) to start in the middle of the season rather than the beginning. Director Hong said, “Things will change from the summer,” and “I want to tell them to wait a little longer.”
Joo Min-gyu said, “I don’t think it’s something the director should be worried about. Ulsan is a team united under the coach’s charisma. If the defense endures, the offense solves the problem, and if the offense fails, the defense makes a breakthrough. With the cohesion of uniting as one, we will bring results to the fans again this year.”