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Turk Manager Gunes Dominates K-League

Posted March. 23, 2007 07:08,   


Senol Gunes was once a candidate for the job of coaching Team Korea after he led Turkey to the semifinals in the 2002 World Cup, but this is the first time that he has headed a foreign club. After the tournament, he coached for his hometown team Trabzonspor, which was also a first in his management career. The Turkish press rates him as “the country’s most successful coach ever,” which makes us curious about his tactics.

“Know your ingredients first”-

As soon as he took up his post at FC Seoul, he interviewed each player individually in order to check their mental status. In the following January, during the team’s training session in Gangneung, he collected data on each player’s stamina, thereby completing his files on the physical and psychological condition of each of his men. “You need to know your ingredients first to get the dish tasty,” he said.

He pointed out that Korean players are very obedient, which gave him the basis to implement his ideas.

Science-based strictness-

He embarked on stamina training once he was done understanding his team. Players in FC Seoul don’t run together. Each of them runs different distances at different speeds assigned by Gunes based on their pulse rate. They carry out their individual programs with heart rate monitors attached, creating a scene never seen before in the K-League. The manager keeps emphasizing the importance of rational training methods grounded in scientific data.

Ever since Gunes arrived in Seoul, the club staff cannot frequent the training pitch as freely as they did before. While the atmosphere of the team has been changing, rumors of his rigor began to circulate in other teams as well.

Those flagged “insincere” during drills are sidelined without exception, as seen in the case of Ricardo who had been the team’s key player up until last season. He hasn’t showed up in a single game since Gunes arrived.

Thoughtful encouragement-

Near twelve midnight on March 21, Gunes paid a visit to Kim Eun-jung, lying in a hospital after picking up an injury earlier in the evening, in a match against Suwon. He also blamed the referees for not allowing Park Chu-young a moment to receive applause as he was being substituted. He believes that “it is not only efforts but also love that makes difference.” Whenever a player does something good or wrong, he immediately stops the training to either compliment or criticize it clearly.

Innovation and activeness-

Gunes hesitated little to promote teenagers like Lee Cheong-yong or Ki Seong-yong to the starting squad. He also introduced the 4-4-2 system, a football formation rarely used in the K-League. The manager put stress on organized movements in the midfield, as well as firm teamwork on the defensive line. He thinks that the manager’s role is to minimize the chances of his men’s mistakes. He hates back passes, and encourages defenders to score as well. Even when the team is in the lead, he orders yet more offense. This kind of activeness is the source of energy and drives the team.