‘Absolute No.1′ Ulsan suffers first back-to-back defeat…’Hide and Seek↔Crisis’ knot must be untangled by itself

There’s still time. Ulsan Hyundai’s position as the ‘absolute number one’ is solid. They have 53 points and a 12-point gap to the second-placed Pohang Steelers (41 points). For any team, a season is a season. The difference is one. Teams at the top of the leaderboard have a shorter pain, while those at the bottom can’t find a way out for long.메이저사이트

Ulsan, a perennial favourite, has lost two consecutive games in the K League One. It’s the first back-to-back defeats since Hong Myung-bo took over as head coach in 2021. The clouds are even thicker as the opponents are all teams in the lower division. Ulsan lost to ninth-placed Incheon United at home on the 12th (1-2) and to bottom-placed Suwon Samsung away on the 15th (1-3).

Opponents seem to have developed an immunity to Ulsan. The pattern is monotonous. Play two lines of defence and then threaten Ulsan’s back door on the counter-attack. Moreover, there were internal concerns. The aftermath of the racism controversy was real. Park Yong-woo was transferred, and several other players received offers from overseas clubs. Even the mighty Ulsan was shaken.

There was nothing to lean on. No one can step in and fix it. They have to untie the knot themselves. Hong usually dismisses the team from the stadium and gives them a day or two off if there is room in the schedule after a game against the capital. After the loss to Suwon, it was different. Everyone was on board for Ulsan. The players had a day off on the 16th, and then went into quenching mode on the 17th to rebound.

The first priority is to fill the void left by Park Yong-woo. Ulsan tried to sign Busan I-Park’s Kwon Hyuk-kyu in preparation for Park Yong-woo’s departure, but that didn’t happen as Scottish side Celtic joined the race. The existing players such as Lee Kyu-sung, Bojanic, and Kim Min-hyuk need to take more responsibility and nervousness. They need to be the focal point to break the losing streak.

We also need to take measures against the opponent’s net defence and counterattacks. Against Incheon, Ulsan had a high percentage of possession, 63 to 37, and against Suwon, 64 to 36. However, their goal chances were noticeably lower. The strategy to reduce the opponent’s physical strength by switching the ball is not working. On the contrary, they are conceding more and more counterattacks due to broken passes.

Patience is key in a compact defence. When space opens up, you have to shoot. In attack, we need to keep it simple, sometimes using the height of players like Martin Adam. On the counter-attack, it’s not only about concentration but also about numbers. It’s not easy to stop a counter-attack with two centre-backs. The left and right fullbacks and defensive midfielders will also need to share their roles.

Ulsan hosts eighth-placed Jeju United on the 21st at 7.30pm. It’s the last game before the All-Star break and another meeting with a team at the bottom of the table. Ulsan has faced Jeju twice in the K League this season, winning 3-1 and 5-1. However, they failed to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup last month, losing 5-6 on penalties after a hard-fought 1-1 draw after 120 minutes.

Ulsan said: “We overcame many obstacles last season and won our first league title in 17 years. There are always difficulties when you play a long season. After the rain, the ground hardens. We will work together as a team to get the three points and show our strength as defending champions.”

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