Yesterday, Guizhou Renhe announced that Gao Hongbo has resigned as the club’s manager. According to Guizhou’s announcement, Gao wants to go abroad to further his coaching knowledge, leading him to come to this decision.
Gao took over at Renhe in September 2011 and started turning things around. This past season, he led the team to a surprising fourth place finish in the league and to the CFA Cup final, allowing them Asian Champions League football for the first time ever.
The timing of this comes as a shock, over a month after the season finished and just before winter training begins. There is plenty of speculation that Gao was quietly (and respectfully) forced out by the club, who are looking to bring in a bigger name foreign manager. If that was the case, it would be the second time in two years that Gao was pushed out for a foreign manager, previously pushed out by the CFA from his job as national team manager and replaced by Jose Antonio Camacho.
The club has denied any intention and insist this surprised them as much as anybody. Guizhou’s vice chairman Yang Xiaoyu stated that they have no plans to find a new manager at the current time and will let assistant manager Gong Lei take over. As for the 46 year old Gao, rumors abound that he may be considering coaching his longtime patron Xu Genbao’s club East Asia.
Whatever comes next for Guizhou and Gao, this is yet another surprise in this very unusual offseason.