World Cup-winning boss Marcello Lippi has become the highest profile manager to take over the reigns of a Chinese Super League club after Guangzhou Evergrande officially announced he had signed a two-year deal to coach the Cantonese giants.
Lippi was unveiled at a press conference held in Guangzhou this afternoon, where he spoke of his delight at joining the club and of his wish to extend his contract should his stewardship of the big-spending club be succesful.
He told assembled journalists and a large group of fans at the press event, “I like the look of this team and its spirit, and the boundless support the club enjoys,” adding, “I like even more that everyone seems to be wearing Guangzhou Evergrande jerseys in this city.”
Lippi said he was “honoured” to accept his new post and said he was to begin work later in the afternoon. “Chairman Xu Jiayin’s goal is to make Evergrande an international team, so we need everyone’s enthusiasm and confidence.”
The Italian replaces Lee Jang-soo, who was sacked yesterday following Guangzhou’s win against Buriram in the Asian Champions League, despite the club progressing to the knock out stage, and leading the Chinese Super League at present.
Speaking of his predecessor, Lippi said, “I’m grateful to Lee Jang-soo for leading the team to success, and I will use his achievements as a base to take the club forward. I promise to put all my passion and professional knowledge into my new role.”
The veteran coach said he was aware his arrival in China would create a big impact, and promised to bring Italian coaching and training concepts to the country.
The CV of the former Juventus man is easily the most impressive of any foreign coach to have managed a Chinese Super League club. With one World Cup victory, five Serie A titles, and a Champions League win featuring amongst his bulging trophy haul, Lippi comes with a second-to-none international pedigree.
However, the 64-year-old has never coached outside Italy and will face a real culture shock in his first few months on the job at least. He also has to deal with the Dario Conca situation – the Argentine was banned for nine games by the club for criticising then-coach Lee Jang-Soo, but then mysteriously was named in the first team in the ACL this week.
He will also have to learn from scratch, how to deal with the vast multitude of unimaginable oddities and other extremely bizarre events which characterize Chinese football.
It’s unclear at this point, and at this level of football, what extra achievement Lippi and bring which Lee did not. With Lucas Barrios arriving at the club next month, expectations to not only win the Chinese Super League but also make a serious effort at lifting the ACL trophy come the end of the season, will now be sky-high.
In short, Lippi is facing a challenge quite like no other.