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Hardcore Tianjin fan gatecrashes new manager Guimaraes’ press conference

A furious Tianjin Teda supporter stormed into a press conference unveiling new head coach Alexandre Guimaraes, bearing a banner telling club chairman Li Guangyi to “fuck off”.

Chinese sports reports did not carry specific details of the fan’s grievance, merely describing him as a moderator on a Tianjin supporters’ web forum. A statement published by the club said the fan’s actions damaged Li Guangyi’s reputation, but said the individual concerned had later apologised and the matter was considered closed.

Tempers have been fraying at the northern club recently, following a very disappointing 2012 so far, in which Tianjin lost its best player Yu Dabao to Dalian Aerbin and crashed out of the ACL without winning a single match.

Moreover, the manner of Guimaraes’ predecessor’s departure was somewhat shambolic. Croatian coach Josip Kuze joined the club as manager at the start of this season, but found himself in hot water two weeks ago when he waved cash at the referee after Tianjin lost 2-1 to Liaoning in a Chines Super League (CSL) game due to a late penalty.

Waving 100 rmb notes appears to be something of a tradition for Tianjin Teda coaches – former boss and World Cup star Arnie Han was fined by the Chinese for a similar offence in 2009 whilst at the helm of Chongqing Lifan. Han became Tianjin coach in 2010 before making way for Kuze at the start of this season.

Kuze also fell out with the club over its foreign recruitment policy. According to Sina Sports, his contract stipulated that he would have no say over which overseas players the club signed.

But he was unhappy to learn the club signed players on the strength of watching DVD highlights of their performances alone, and later claimed that chairman Li Guangyi then asked him “why didn’t you suggest any good players for the club to sign” despite having had to sign a contract forbidding him from taking part in the process.

Boardroom control of transfer policy is commonplace in the CSL but has been a recurring issue this season – Nicolas Anelka also complained recently that his suggestions to the Shanghai Shenhua board were completely ignored.

Kuze was sacked last week and the appointment of his replacement Brazilian Alexandre Guimaraes, who coached Costa Rica in the 2002 World Cup, becomes the seventh managerial change of the year so far, despite the CSL season not yet having reached the half way point.

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

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