Jose Mourinho to advise China football powerbrokers as they bid to become world force
Former Chelsea boss to offer his services on ad-hoc consultancy basis
Jose Mourinho is the latest big name being courted by Chinese football as it aims to become a major player.
The former Chelsea boss was in Shanghai last month with his agent Jorge Mendes to meet with Zhang Dazhong, the chief of Alibaba’s new sports division.
London’s Evening Standard reports that a meeting took place about how to involve him in Chinese football.
He is not interested in a coaching role – China’s national team is currently without a manager – but is willing to offer his services as an advisor to help improve grassroots football in the country.
Mourinho, 53, is expected to take over as Manchester United manager, though he surely could have named his price to become China’s next coach.
China has stunned world football in recent weeks with a string of big-money, high-profile transfer deals.
Marcello Lippi, the former coach of Guangzhou Evergrande who is another possible candidate for the China national team job, said the country needs to focus on producing its own players.
“I’ve told the directors of Chinese clubs they’re going about it the wrong way,” said Lippi. “Spending lots of money on great players isn’t the way to reach the top.
READ MORE: How Alibaba aims to transform China’s sports market – and help bring the World Cup to the country
“You need to work from a solid base of home-grown players, otherwise there is no sense of belonging.”
But Tom Byer, a youth development expert employed as a consultant to the Chinese Ministry of Education as it rolls out a soccer program in schools, told the Associated Press that steps are being taken in that regard.
“I don’t think there is any other program similar throughout the world that is this big,” Byer said.
“The government is serious about development and also realises grassroots development is not the glamorous side of the game and is often neglected by the media. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Meanwhile, current Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink revealed that he was approached to manage in China recently.
“I had some possibilities to go there in the recent past,” Hiddink told reporters at his weekly press conference without expanding any further.
Jiangsu Suning are managed by former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu, while Sven Goran Eriksson and Luis Felipe Scolari are also bosses in China.