Updated: 2011-11-11 07:40
By Tang Zhe (China Daily)
Shenzhen Ruby coach Philippe Troussier gestures during the team's match against Nanchang on Sept 10. Troussier, who brought high hopes with him, failed to keep Shenzhen in the league's top division. The club will keep the Frenchman with the belief he will turn its fortunes around over the long haul. "The target is longer and bigger," said Ruby president Wan Hongwei. Wu Jun / For China Daily
Highly-regarded foreign coach steered popular CSL team to a humiliating drop to second division, but reputation remains intact for now, Tang Zhe reports
Philippe Troussier had a great past in Japan. But does that mean he'll have a great future in China? China made its World Cup debut in 2002 and, in the process, became aware of the large gap between it and neighbor Japan, which made it to the round of 16 of the event.
Thus as Japan's coach, Troussier became a well-known name in China, and was even hailed by some a potential savior for the sport here.
All it took was one controversial year as coach of Shenzhen Ruby for all that to go away.
Under the 56-year-old, Shenzhen managed five victories in 30 league games and was relegated to the second division for the first time in 15 years.
It might be too early to say if Troussier can succeed in China, but his distinct personality is proving to be an obstacle.
Shortly after his arrival, Troussier replaced nearly all his veterans with young players, most of whom have no experience in the Chinese Super League (CSL).
Troussier, who says his players rely too heavily on headers, never used the same starting lineup twice.
"We are not against Troussier changing the team, but every reconstruction of the team should be done step by step. You can't use a player because he is on your side, and discard him the next day due to a difference of opinion," said Jian Mangen, president of the Shenzhen Fans Union.
"The Frenchman put all the old players on the second team and used a bunch of youngsters who hadn't even played the second division -it would be absurd if the team could play well with such an arrangement."
Troussier, however, said he came to China with a long-term target.
"I came to Shenzhen to change the mentality, and there were 26 players who never played (in the Super League) before - my mission is not for a one year-contract, my mission is to change this club," said Troussier.
Troussier has clashed with club manager Sammy Yu, the former vice-chairman of Premier League club Birmingham City.
"I'm not sure if I will stay in Shenzhen, because I have my own conditions," Troussier said. "I'm ready to stay if the seven players (who absent from the last game with Changchun Yatai) will be punished. I will stay if Mr Yu will go, I will stay if I can buy good team, I will stay if we have a training pitch, and I will stay if we have a very good vision for the future. If one of the condition is not fulfilled, I will not be the coach of Shenzhen Ruby."
Troussier reportedly beat and humiliated players during training.
This is not the first time Troussier has had conflicts with his players and associations.
He was fired as head coach of the Moroccan national team, which he took over after the country's failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup. He was in charge two months before being forced out by the Moroccan FA due to a difference of opinion.
The Japanese also said they suffered from the coach's bad temper, despite Troussier's success.
"Troussier is a special coach, I don't mean to deny his coaching ability, but his bad temper and immaturity will become the biggest obstacles for his coaching career," Japanese soccer godfather Saburo Kawabuchi said at a soccer forum held in China in July. "I think it's better for Troussier not to stay in a team for more than three years, otherwise, there will be many disputes."
(China Daily 11/11/2011 page22)