Poyet reaches his 'limit' to put Shenhua job on the line as Evergrande extends CSL lead

Shanghai Greenland Shenhua boss expresses support for under-fire head coach Gus Poyet following another tough loss — at home — in the Chinese Super League.
Poyet reaches his 'limit' to put Shenhua job on the line as Evergrande extends CSL lead

Shanghai Greenland Shenhua head coach Gus Poyet

Shanghai Greenland Shenhua coach Gus Poyet was tearing his hair in frustration, saying he had reached “his limit”, after a dispiriting 0-3 loss to Guizhou Hengfeng at Hongkou Football Stadium on Wednesday, the team's latest Chinese Super League setback.

Lying a lowly 11th in the 16-team table with 24 points, Shenhua is too far away from its preseason goal of qualifying for next year’s AFC Champions League — which means finishing at the top-end of the table.

At his post-match press conference, Poyet did not hide his frustration, requesting reporters not to ask any questions.

“I want to say sorry, and I don’t know what else to say about today’s match,” said the Uruguayan. “As the head coach, I’m responsible for the result. I’m honored to have this job, but everybody has his limits, and I have reached mine. There are things on the pitch which are not within my responsibility, and I will not take responsibility for it. I don’t want to continue to talk about that, because that would be personally not good for me. I ask for your forgiveness and don’t ask me any questions.”

Shenhua has won just one of its last five league and cup games to ramp up the pressure on the 49-year-old Poyet, whose managerial career has included two years in the English Premier League with Sunderland in 2013-2015.

But Shenhua's boss insisted Poyet's job is safe.

Club president Wu Xiaohui denied that Poyet is thinking of calling it quits.

“No he didn’t say that (about quitting the job),” Wu told reporters who were waiting for him outside Hongkou Stadium after the match, adding that he had a “long talk” with Poyet in the locker room after the defeat and expressed his support for the besieged Uruguayan.

“The team is extremely tired due to the packed schedule. It did not show its normal form today, which happens once or twice a year, so it’s alright.

“The head coach found it hard to accept (the team’s performance and the result). We have talked and hope he can adjust himself quickly. Of course, we will keep supporting him. The team has played exciting games this season during which good strategies were applied...there is no problem.”

Taking on a team led by his predecessor Gregorio Manzano, Poyet rested Argentina striker Carlos Tevez, as well as injured Colombian midfielder Freddy Guarin.

Bad tackle

A header from former Shenhua and national team captain Du Wei gave the visitors the lead in the 54th minute. Shenhua midfielder Zhang Lu was sent off in the 85th after a bad tackle on Guizhou’s Spain midfielder Mario Suarez. Guizhou then exploited its numerical advantage as Spain forward Ruben Castro scored a brace in injury time to add insult to Shenhua's injury and fix the final score at 3-0.

“We prepared well for this match,” Manzano said at the post-match press conference. “The players did well in applying our strategies, especially in defense. We had quite a lot of chances and the first goal came a bit late. The score could have been 5-1.”

Guizhou’s third straight league victory saw it climb to ninth in the CSL standings on 27 points. Manzano, who also coached Beijing Guo’an before arriving in Shanghai, led Shenhua to a fourth-place finish in the CSL last year. He did not extend his contract due to some disagreement with club top officials about Shenhua’s goals for 2017 and over a head coach’s right in choosing foreign players.

Shenhua has reached the last four of this year’s CFA Cup and will take on second-tier Shanghai Shenxin in the two-leg clash. The CFA Cup champion gains access to next year’s Asian league, but Shenhua will have to beat the winner between Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou Evergrande for the cup if it manages to reach the final.

Meanwhile in CSL games on Thursday, it was: Hebei China Fortune 2, SIPG 2; Liaoning Whowin 0, Evergrande 3; and Tianjin Quanjian 2, Guo'an 2.

Evergrande's victory on Thursday means that the defending champion has now extended its lead over SIPG to five points. Luis Felipe Scolari's team leads the CSL table on 47 points from 21 games, while Andre Villas-Boas' Shanghai club has 42 points, having drawn its last two games.

Fabio Cannavaro's Quanjian remains third, following its draw with Beijing, on 37, just a point ahead of Guangzhou R&F, which beat Fabio Capello's Jiangsu Suning 4-2 on Wednesday.

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