Could China become an oasis for superstar managers?

by Jack Kitson / 20 January 2017, 11:33

There has been a lot made of the players being lured to China for huge sums of money recently. Carlos Tevez, Oscar and Axel Witsel are just a few of the big stars who put their financial needs first. But less is made of the managers who have also been tempted by the Chinese Super League, which begs the question: could we soon see the best managers in the world moving over to the Far East?

Which managers currently ply their trade in China?

Ex-Brazil manager and World Cup winner, Luiz Felipe Scolari is currently the manager of the dominant force in Chinese football, Guangzhou Evergrande. The big spending Champions brought Scolari to the club in 2015 to succeed Italian Fabio Cannavaro. Before Cannavaro another big-name Italian, Marcello Lippi was at the helm.

Luiz Felipe Scolari

It’s clear that money plays a huge part in dragging these managers to Guangzhou. These clubs can afford to pay these huge wages as they are mostly owned by huge companies with massive turnovers. In Evergrande’s case they are owned, and share their name with, the second biggest property developer in China.

Aside from Scolari, Ex-Chelsea and Tottenham boss Andre Villas Boas took over the reins at Shanghai SIPG, the side that Hulk and Oscar play for. AVB replaced lovable Swede Sven Goran-Eriksson who now manages in the Chinese second division, Shenzhen FC, showing the financial might that the clubs throughout the divisions have in China. Another big name, Clarence Seedorf, was the manager at Shenzhen FC before Sven, as they spend big to try and reach the Chinese top flight.

Manuel Pellegrini manages the aptly named Hebei China Fourtune, whose squad includes Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gervinho. The ex-Real Madrid and Man City coach is reported to be earning a whopping £32.5 million a year which works out at just over £625,000 a week. To put that in perspective Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are reported to be earning £15 million a year (£288,000 a week). No wonder Pellegrini turned down Champions League teams to head to China.

Other notable CSL managers include Felix Magath, Gus Poyet and Fabio Cannavaro. In fact, there are now just 3 Chinese managers in the top flight.

As a sign of the financial might in China, Hebei Fortune offered £340,000 to the Chinese national team (whom World Cup winner Marcello Lippi now manages) as a bonus if they beat South Korea. This is an example of how Chinese companies are attempting to outdo each other in displaying their support for the governments and their drive in the football industry.

Marcello Lippi

Who else could be tempted to venture off to the Far East?

European clubs simply can’t compete with this type of financial might. So, when could we expect to be losing our top managers to China?

Most of Europe’s top managers are currently based in the Premier League and are mostly enjoying the challenge of England’s top league. But once Mourinho, Guardiola, Klopp, Pochettino and Conte have tested themselves in England for a few years we could be losing them to China. Guardiola has already stated he does not think he will be at City for more than his current three-year contract, and Chelsea and Manchester United have recent records of chopping and changing their managers.

Competing in ‘The most competitive league in the world’ may not be enough to keep some of these top managers here and the huge wages China can offer would put them top of the pile in terms of destination. Out of work British managers such as Gary Rowett may also be tempted to give up the job hunt in the U.K and head abroad for financial gain.

China may do to the Premier League what the Premier League was able to do to all the other European Leagues. Offer higher wages, attract better players and managers thanks to the financial muscle behind the division. Managers may currently head to China for a final payday but concern will hit the major European clubs once they start cherry picking the top European managers from their clubs.

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