Kim Doo-hyun, 41, is the “fireman” and “policeman” of Jeonbuk Hyundai. He quickly evolved the crisis surrounding Jeonbuk and reorganized the clutter of players’ positions. Then came a surprising change. “Jeonbuk is back,” said acting coach Kim Doo-hyun, who has led the team to a four-match unbeaten streak.
Kim, who took over the reins on April 4 after former coach Kim Sang-sik voluntarily resigned to take responsibility for the team’s poor performance, has infused Jeonbuk with tactical ideas from his time as a player and coach. “Under Kim Doo-hyun, we do more tactical training,” winger Lee Dong-joon said of the change in atmosphere.
Kim sought to maximize each individual’s strengths. Midfielder Baek Seung-ho said, “He gave each player a role. He asked them what they were good at and tried to utilize their strengths,” said midfielder Baek Seung-ho. Against Suwon FC, he asked Song Min-gyu to attack the half-space (the space between the sides and the center). Song came on as a second-half substitute and scored the winning goal.
Kim, who earned a reputation as a “genius midfielder” and “trickster” during his playing days, put a lot of effort into the composition of the midfield. The key was to give Baek Seung-ho, who was mainly a ‘deep-lying playmaker’, the role of ‘attacking playmaker’. With the active Lee Soo-bin, Park Jin-seob, who can play center back, and the defensive strength of Park, the three midfielders reduced the defensive burden on Baek Seung-ho. Baek Seung-ho has been the solution, scoring two goals against Suwon, one against Suwon FC, and three in his last three games.
In addition to using midfielder Meng Sung-woong as a left back, Kim also utilized underused center back Koo Ja-ryong, winger Moon Sun-min, and fullback Choi Cheol-soon. The squad got healthier as injured players such as Cho Kyu-sung, Song Min-kyu, Kim Jin-soo, and Kim Moon-hwan returned one after another.
The so-called “coach change effect” had a positive impact on the team. Except for the last three games against Seoul, where Kim implemented a defensive strategy, the team’s performance has changed dramatically. After averaging just one goal in the first 10 games, the team has scored an average of two goals in the last three games. Possession has increased from 52% to 63.3%, shots from 10.8 to 12.3, pass completion from 82.8% to 89.9%, key passes from 6.1 to 8, forward passes in the attacking third from 66.5% to 75.1%, crosses from 20.3% to 31%, and ground balls in the center from 56.3% to 67%. Even the goalkeeper’s long-range goal kick success rate jumped from 13% to 67%. 스포츠토토
Most importantly, the players’ thirst for “Jeonbuk-driven soccer” was quenched. “The players seem to have a sense of fun and accomplishment,” says Kim. As the team’s mood revitalizes and its performance improves, results naturally follow. After earning just 10 points (3 W, 1 D, 6 L) in its first 10 games, Jeonbuk has earned eight points (2 W, 2 L) in its last four matches. The 10th-place team is now in seventh place (18 points). They are still a long way from the leaders Ulsan (37 points), but the gap between them and second place (24 points) has narrowed to six points.
Some fans who have watched Jeonbuk’s transformation have begun to ask, “Shouldn’t Kim be made the full-time coach? However, Kim said, “We need a new coach as soon as possible,” and said he would stabilize the team before giving way to a permanent coach. For now, the team is focused on getting results in the season’s second Hyundai Gas Derby against Ulsan on March 3.