Dalian Aerbin announced this morning that Aleksandar Stanojević, formerly in charge of FK Partizan in the Serbian league, was taking over as the club’s manager effective immediately.
Holidays are usually slow news times, people are travelling and not paying close attention to what’s going on, it’s a perfect time to bury a story. Perhaps thats exactly what Dalian Aerbin have done with the shock announcement yesterday evening that manager Chang Woe-Ryong was stepping down as the club’s manager after only three months in charge.
Chang, who has a long history of managing in east Asia and worked magic at Qingdao last season, stated that he was stepping down for “family reasons”. There’s a lot of speculation whether Chang was forced out or if the family excuse was a way for him and Aerbin to “save face”. Chang’s wife underwent surgery on February 20th in Korea and Chang had made a trip home. It’s easy to accuse Chang of not having his heart in it, but with a young squad consisting of many players who are making their Chinese Super League debut, it’s no surprise the club has performed weakly.
Indeed, Aerbin have struggled so far this year, they currently sit in second to last and are the only team in the Chinese Super League who have yet to win, mustering three draws and a loss in the first four matches. The speculation that Chang was forced out looks all the more believable because they didn’t waste time bringing in a replacement. Within twelve hours of announcing Chang’s stepping down, Aerbin have announced their new manager, Serbian Aleksandar Stanojević.
We’ve talked about the certain Brazilian flair that has taken over the Chinese Super League when it comes to foreign player allotments, but when looking at the data, the second most represented “country” is the former Yugoslavia, with 11 players (if you include Dino Dulbic) who come from the republics of Serbia (5), Bosnia-Herzegovina (4), Croatia (1), and Macedonia (2). The trend extends to managers as well, Stanojević is the league’s third Serb manager, and the league also has a Croat and Bosnian in charge of clubs.
Stanojević has a tall task ahead. He has little managerial experience, having spent two seasons in charge of the Serbian U-19s and two seasons in charge of Serbian club Partizan before coming to Dalian. Except for a year with Mallorca as a player, his entire playing and coaching career was spent in Serbia, coming to China is sure to be a major adjustment for him. And despite the Yugoslav influence on the Chinese Super League, it doesn’t extend to any of the players on Aerbin.
These are difficult days to be a manager in Dalian, intercity rivals Shide are only doing slightly better with a win, a draw, and two losses, sitting one point ahead of Aerbin and questions growing how much longer Portuguese manager Nelo Vingada will be safe.