Former Argentina international coach Sergio Batista has decided enough is enough and has resigned as Shanghai Shenhua manager after going unpaid for four months, according to local reports.
Batista is just one of several staff and players at Shenhua whose wages are in arrears, due to the long-running shareholder conflict between owner Zhu Jun and the remaining shareholders, a bloc of state-owned enterprises.
And, as predicted my many fans and media, Batista will be succeeded by former Henan Jianye and Beijing Guoan manager Shen Xiangfu, who, in a rather peculiar appointment, joined Shenhua at the start of this season as “Chinese player head coach”
Shenhua managers under Zhu Jun
Wu Jinggui (returned)
Jean-Florent Ikwange Ibenge
A statement released by Shenhua last night read,”Due to personal reasons, Mr Batista offered to resign from his position as first team coach of the club. After careful consideration, the club decided to respectfully accept Mr Batista’s offer. Assistant coach Shen Xiangfu will now lead the team in the Chinese Super League for this campaign. The club would like to thank Mr Batista for his contribution to Shanghai Shenhua during his time in China.”
Batista’s resignation will not come as a surprise to most. The writing was on the wall with the arrival of Shen Xiangfu, and whoever is responsible for not paying such a key figure, the manager of the club, for four months during what is a very very tough time for Shenhua, simply cannot have the club’s best interests at heart.
understands that Shenhua’s owner wanted Batista out at the start of the season, but Shenhua’s unexpectedly bright 2013 campaign made his dismissal impossible even for the crazed and erratic Zhu Jun. Instead, he opted to merely not bother paying him and push him out by stealth.
Media reactions to the news focused on Shenhua’s addiction to instability. “Crazy! Nine coaches in six years!” was Sina Sport‘s headline. Shanghai’s Oriental Morning Post carried quotes from a club insider confirming that Batista was owed “several months” wages, other sources were more exact, putting the figure at four.
The newspaper summed up the feelings of many with a commentary. It read, “What no-one can understand is that this time Shenhua have changed coach on the eve of a huge relegation battle against Tianjin – if they lose this match Shenhua’s lead over Tianjin will be cut to just 4 points and the club will be drawn into a long and bitter relegation dogfight.”
Batista took over Shenhua in difficult circumstances, with the club in disarray following Jean Tigana’s short reign at the start of last season, and the utterly farcical Nicolas Anelka – Jean-Florent Ikwange Ibenge management affair.
Batista steadied the ship but oversaw an indifferent end to 2012, as the Anelka and Drogba experiment ultimately failed to deliver results. Doubts arose over his suitability for the job arose, as did questions over his laid-back training methods. He also was the chief participant in an incredibly bizarre news story involving the riding of refuse collection vehicles in Shanghai.
However, Argentine coach proved his worth in the first half of this season – performing a minor miracle in propelling a threadbare Shenhua side up the table this year after starting on a six-point deduction, with a series of very impressive results and performances.
Batista was in charge of Shenhua for 400 days exactly, and his W-D-L record was 9-18-6.
Overall, the Argentinians departure is both untimely and unhelpful for Shenhua in what is already one of the toughest seasons the club has ever faced. Continuity again remains a concept completely alien to owner Zhu Jun.
Shen Xiangfu, Shenhua’s 10th coach in six years, will have a lot to contend with if he is to avoid being the club’s 11th managerial casualty since Zhu Jun took over.