The managerial merry-go-round breeds Chinese Super League instability but is unlikely to halt any time soon
Shijiazhuang Everbright boss Yasen Petrov is the CSL’s longest-serving manager having been in charge for two-and-a-half years in a league where almost half of the clubs have managers that have been brought in this season
Are Guanghzou Evergrande Taobao in the market for a new manager? That’s what the whispers were after their most recent AFC Champions League game. Luis Felipe Scolari’s team – the reigning champions let’s not forget – are rooted to the bottom of their group.
They need to win their two remaining games – starting tomorrow away to Pohang Steelers – and hope that results go their way if they stand a chance of retaining their trophy.
It’s unlikely that Big Phil will be looking for a new job, though. Things are much rosier on the domestic front.
Evergrande are second in the Chinese Super League table, just a point behind unbeaten Jiangsu Suning. It’s early days – this weekend was the fifth round of games – but the CSL trophy could well end up staying in Guangzhou for the sixth year in a row.
Further north it’s been reported that the vultures have been circling over the Workers’ Stadium, with Beijing Guoan manager Alberto Zaccheroni facing the axe already.
Prior to this weekend, the capital club were winless and goalless in the Chinese Super League. The former Juventus manager did himself a great deal of good by winning 3-0 away at Hangzhou Greentown and while the club currently hover around the relegation zone, a win in their game in hand will take them to sixth place. That’s not where the club will want to finish the season – the AFC Champions League spots – but it is a platform on which to build.
WATCH: highlights from Beijing Guoan’s win over Hangzhou Greentown
It’s no surprise that Guoan are struggling. Zaccheroni only took over in January and the club then dipped into the frenzy of the transfer window. That’s not much time to gauge the capabilities of the squad and work out your best 11, let alone impart the intricacies of your coaching philosophy. Then again the Italian is not alone in this situation.
The CSL may have made international headlines in the last transfer window for its superstar signings but there were also major moves in the dugout during the close season.
Shanghai Greenland Shenhua appointed Gregorio Manzano as their manager, tempting the Spaniard south from his stint at Beijing Guoan where he was CSL coach of the year in 2014.
Tianjin TEDA hired another former CSL coach of the year in Dragan Okuka, while Shandong Luneng hired the former Brazil manager Mano Menezes.
Elsewhere, Hangzhou Greentown brought in Hong Myung-Bo, Chongqing Lifan opted for Chang Woe-Ryong and Slavisa Stojanovic moved to Changchun Yatai.
WATCH: highlights from the 1-1 draw between Hebei Fortune and Shijiazhuang Yongchang
That’s seven teams, almost half of the 16 team league, that have managers who they brought in this season.
Of the other nine clubs, most of their managers have not been there that much longer.
The aforementioned Big Phil came into Evergrande midway through last season, replacing Fabio Cannavaro after just six months, before guiding them to the double.
Across town at Guangzhou R&F, Dragan Stojkovic has been in charge since last August. Likewise, Dan Petrescu, boss of unbeaten table toppers Jiangsu Suning, has only been in Nanjing since last summer, and Ma Lin became Liaoning Whowin manager last June, although he did enjoy a five-year spell at the club from 2008.
Former Everton player Li Tie was also recruited last summer. The Hebei China Fortune boss oversaw his side in the CSL’s first ever Hebei derby this weekend against Shijiazhuang Everbright, which finished 1-1.
His opposite number, Yasen Petrov, seems almost Wenger-esque having been in charge since December 2013.
The Bulgarian is the longest serving manager in the league with a whopping two-and-a-half years. He’s run close by Henan Jianye’s Jia Xiuquan, Sven-Goran Eriksson at Shanghai SIPG and Yanbian Funde’s Park Tae-ha, who have all been in their jobs since 2014.
This managerial merry-go-round is likely to continue. The new owners, who have poured so much into their clubs, want instant results and the manager is the thing that they can easiest change.
Similarly, the money on offer appeals to an ever higher calibre of manager – a look at the CVs of the CSL’s current crop lists some of the biggest clubs in the world and a couple of former Brazil bosses.
That’s a heady cocktail, which means while the rumours about Big Phil and Zaccheroni might be wide of the mark, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets the boot.