For Lee Jong-ha (59), the new general manager of the Pohang Steelers, every day is a series of tension.

This is because in the professional football field, where the power and logic of capital dominate, it is necessary to protect the name value of a prestigious family that cannot be bought with money. The ‘Steelers Man’ who protects the oldest professional football club has heavy shoulders.

In a phone call with a reporter on the 15th, general manager Lee said, “From the first day I took over as the general manager, rebuilding the prestigious family has become a homework task.”

Director Lee, a former soccer player, joined Pohang in 1996 and has experienced all aspects of administrative work in the soccer field for 27 years, starting with the team management, player support team leader, public relations marketing team leader, dream tree creation planning team leader, and power reinforcement office manager.

Pohang ranked second in the total annual salary of last year’s K-League 1 players, which was recently released by the Professional Football Federation, not from the front, but from the back. About 7.7 billion won was spent on about 37 players. Last year’s champion Ulsan Hyundai spent 17.6 billion won and runner-up Jeonbuk Hyundai spent 19.7 billion won. In terms of salary, it was not easy to expect to go to the top split, let alone win. However, Pohang even won a ticket to the Asian Champions League (ACL) in third place in the league.

It was not an easy challenge, but there was a way to survive only in Pohang. “Should I give up because I can’t spend as much money as I used to? If you don’t move the same as everyone else, you can win with a small amount of money.”

Director Lee confidently said that he was short on budget but rich in time. With coach Kim Ki-dong, we are negotiating with the players we dropped from last summer. In particular, the target is a free agent (FA) that does not incur transfer fees, and it can be seen as a ‘free contract’ (signing a provisional contract with an FA player first) that is popular in Europe. Director Lee brought Zeca, a Brazilian who played for Daegu FC last year, in this way.

Instead of moving faster than others, there is an element of anxiety. It is not uncommon for a player to be expected to fall into a downward trend when a recruitment decision is made. If Pohang only ranks in the K-League 1 over the past three years, it is also the background of the roller coaster ride from 3rd (2020) → 9th (2021) → 3rd (2022). However, even in 2021, when it was sluggish in ninth place, it cannot be seen as a failure as it finished runner-up in the ACL.

General manager Lee said, “This is the result of coach Kim Ki-dong demonstrating good leadership even in difficult conditions.” The coach also seriously proposed winning the championship this year.”스포츠토토

However, if Lee wants to win the championship according to his wishes, he must first deal with the ‘Shin Jin-ho risk’. Shin Jin-ho, who was nominated for MVP last year with 4 goals and 10 assists, did not accompany the training camp in Vietnam on the 9th due to contract issues. It is a problem created by the reality that the best treatment cannot be given to the player who performed the best. Shin Jin-ho, who has one year left on his contract, is open to the possibility of transferring to clubs in the metropolitan area.

General manager Lee said, “It is the best treatment in our club, but it is not at a level that the players are satisfied with, but they are worried.” I want to hold onto it as much as possible, but if I go out, I am preparing an alternative.”

General manager Lee said that Pohang’s challenge for the championship depends on the summer season. It is about the transfer market, which is the job of the general manager, not the victory points race entrusted to the manager. Pohang has two foreign player quotas left this year, and he explains that he will laugh in the fall by reinforcing weak positions in the summer.

General Manager Lee said, “I still cannot forget that I achieved the first double (two crowns) in the K-League in 2013 as the head of the Power Reinforcement Office.”

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