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Nicolas Anelka: “I just became the new player-manager of Shanghai Shenhua”

Anelka holds court in place of Tigana at a press conference yesterday

In a bizarre and unexpected development, Nicolas Anelka has announced he is  Shenhua’s new player-manager, following a confusing day of frenzied speculation in Shanghai.

He made the announcement a little after midnight today on his official Twitter account, after the club yesterday announced the sacking of Tigana’s three coaching staff and the promotion of Anelka to the coaching team.

Although the club initially announced Anelka would be helping out with coaching duties, it now very much appears as if he is the latest occupant of the Hongkou hotseat, replacing Tigana rather than assisting him. Chinese press reports had earlier suggested that the former Fulham boss had not been fired.

However, speculation began to grow throughout the day as to how Tigana could continue with the three coaches he brought to the club having been fired due to player dissatisfaction with their methods.

And the writing appeared to be on the wall for Tigana when senior Shenhua player, midfielder Jiang Kun publicly criticised Tigana at a press conference yesterday, saying he was “absolutely not a successful coach” and that the team’s results were better at the same stage of the season last year.

Jiang added that right from the club’s training sessions when Tigana took over during the club’s pre-season tour of Spain, to winter training in Kunming, training had been “the same every day” and there had been “little communication” between the coaching team and staff.

No information has been released so far as to the fate of Tigana but clearly he has agreed some kind of severance package as he would have found it very difficult to continue with the players having been behind the removal of his coaching team.

Anelka’s new role at the club is something of a surprise development to say the least. Many, particularly those overseas, will find the appointment rather odd; Anelka’s introverted personality and well-documented awkward relationships with authority in the past make him a very curious choice of manager. With no experience of even being an assistant coach, he finds himself jumping in at the deep end in a very unfamiliar footballing environment, and the pressure on him to succeed, and the responsibility, will be new experience for him.

It appears as if the appointment has been driven by the rest of the squad who clearly have an immense amount of respect for Anelka as a professional. A new side to his personality has emerged during his time in China so far, that is his modest nature and the efforts to fit in with the local culture. In China, getting along with everyone is something which is greatly valued and, despite what those back in Europe may have previously thought about him, Anelka has succeeded at this so far.

For someone of Anelka’s standing, he is in a position to be extremely influential by fitting in and this positive and professional influence is probably what the club is buying into with this appointment, as its unclear at best what his tactical and man management abilities are.

At any rate, if he has a strong number 2 in place, he is unlikely to do any worse than Tigana.

UK trained journalist and long-time Chinese football observer Cameron Wilson has been writing about Chinese football for over a decade...

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Yiddo Huayi

    13/04/2012 at 05:34

    Do managers/coaches in the CSL need a pro licence (i.e. the UEFA “A” or “B” pro licence?) .

    And does Anelka have one?

    I do enjoy watching a train-wreck in slow motion…

  2. Steve

    13/04/2012 at 07:48

    Good lord. Don’t even know where to start with this one. Did we just become the joke club of the CSL?

    – It would have been nice if Anelka had shown a bit more on the pitch before this happened

    – The correlation between “good player” and “good manager” is pretty weak in modern football

    – Jiang Kun is absolutely not a decent-standard footballer

    I’m not necessarily a huge apologist for Tigana, but there’s something really good to be said for stability, giving people a chance, and generally not knee-jerking and looking like an absolutely disorganized rabble the day before an important game and in the full glare of international media.

    On the plus side: I can go into the office this morning knowing that there’s at least one more capriciously-run rabble in the city than my place!

  3. shinpath

    13/04/2012 at 12:43

    This won’t end well…

  4. Peter I

    14/04/2012 at 13:12

    Lawrie Mckinna, the Chongqing Lifan manager just tweeted he following;

    ‘Just got told that the Coach of shanghai was on the team bus and had not been told he had been sacked and Anelka had taken over from him
    They had to get the players off the bus to tell him.Only in China and this is coming from a good source at the club;

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