Who the greatest Italian manager of all time? Very few would disagree with Marcello Lippi. Winner of five Serie A titles, the UEFA Champions League and the 2006 World Cup, the 65 year old manager of Guangzhou Evergrande requires little introduction.
With the 2013 Chinese Super League and ACL titles in the bag Lippi has impressed in China as well as Italy. While Evergrande have undeniable financial backing they would not be the first side to win trophies via spending money and Lippi brought his own brand of football to a club that he has left his mark on for years to come.
Speaking with Wild East Football’s Peter Davis via his translator Gian Matteo Mannering, Lippi explains as only he can, the recipe for success at Guangzhou Evergrande and comparing his fantastic achievements.
Guangzhou Evergrande completed the Chinese Super League title win in style with an away win at nearest rivals Shandong Luneng, how did it feel to claim the title like that?
Although we knew that we would win the championship this year, it was nice to make it decisive at their stadium in Shandong. They have been our main rivals for the first half of this year’s season.
How does a coach rank an achievement like winning the World Cup, Serie A or the European Champions League next to winning the CSL, how do you compare the achievements yourself?
I would put them in first place along with my other tournament victories, they all bring a great sense of satisfaction and sweet accomplishment. Above and beyond all these is obviously the World Cup of 2006. It would surely be a great pleasure for me to also be able to win the Asian Champions League after having already done so with the European one.
Evergrande have a wealth of Chinese players available to them, which players have been important to Evergrande’s success?
A football team is like a cake, where the foreign players are the cherries but the strong solid base of the cake is constructed of national players.
Why do you think the way some Chinese players perform in the league has not duplicated itself at international level? Is there too big a reliance on the foreign players?
As I said before, there’s a need to build a solid team of Chinese players, which is organized, convinced and enterprising. Then you can insert the various foreign players. What is really important is to get as much international experience as possible.
How important have the signings of Zeng Cheng and Elkeson been to Evergrande?
Zeng Cheng has been very important, a great goalkeeper who gives a sense of security for the whole team. Elkeson is a young, strong, serious and professional player. He will confirm himself at this level and have a successful career, who knows, maybe even in Europe.
Muriqui is adored too in Guangzhou, have you been surprised by the level of support for the players like him in the south?
The fans gave excellent support to the whole team throughout the year, without a doubt Muriqui is their idol.
How much room is there in Guangdong for clubs? With R&F, Guangdong Sunray Cave and Shenzhen Ruby can the area continue to draw crowds?
There is a high potential of spectators for everyone, what’s most important is that a team is able to create enthusiasm for their fans, grasp them and win them over with the team’s performance.
Your career has been nothing short of unbelievable without managing in the English or Spanish leagues and looking at your accomplishments it doesn’t look like you have to prove anything else, what do you think you have left to do?
It’s fantastic and I enjoy creating a group which works well together and has the technical and psychological characteristics to become victorious over and over again. Winning is beautiful anywhere in the world, it’s amazing but extremely difficult to achieve.