After two years of relative success in the capital, Jaime Pacheco’s time in Beijing came to an end early Sunday morning when he left for Portugal having been released by Beijing Guoan. During his two seasons in Beijing, the club finished second and third, respectively, and qualified for the Asian Champions League both years.
Over a thousand fans came out to Capital Airport’s Terminal 3, some of them showing up five hours before Pacheco’s flight, to send off the manager. Pacheco’s firing is in no way as frustrating and disappointing as when Lee Jangsoo was let go toward the end of Guoan’s championship season in 2009, but Guoan has suddenly developed a larger fan base over the past few seasons.
It’s hard to be that angry with the club over the decision. While Pacheco was a great manager, he was often overly emotional and over both seasons Guoan hit a bit of a purple patch in the late summer months. At the same time, it appeared that he lost the locker room, at least some veterans in it, especially after a bust up at a reserve match in Nanjing just before the end of the season. For a club that tends to be very conservative, the firing doesn’t really come as a surprise.
Many of the fans who showed up at the airport appeared to be doing so to make themselves famous instead of to send off the “old” manager. There was much singing and chanting (including the utterly annoying “Guoan are the champions”) when Pacheco arrived, forced through the crowd by his agent and a representative from the club, Wei Kexing.
While some may have been frustrated by some of the chants or the overly emotional tears, the moment when Pacheco went through the crowd, climbed onto the desk at the ticket check and waved to the fans was almost enough to bring a tear to even the hardest fans eye.
All I can say is thanks for the time you gave us, Jaime, you’ll be remembered in Beijing.