Real ex-boss Schuster at Dalian

CHINESE Super League newcomer Dalian Yifang named former Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster as its new coach. 

Bernd Schuster

CHINESE Super League newcomer Dalian Yifang named former Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster as its new coach. The 58-year-old German will take over from Ma Lin, one of four Chinese head coaches in the top-tier league.

The club made the announcement via its official Weibo account on Monday night. “Dalian Yifang encountered three straight defeats at the beginning of the 2018 season,” said the statement. “To turn around the situation, we have named well-known European coach Bernd Schuster, who has coaching experience in Real Madrid, as our new manager.”

“We have other arrangements for former coach Ma Lin and his team. The club thanks Ma for his efforts in the team’s most difficult time. We hope Schuster’s coaching team will get familiar with the players, as well as our CSL rivals, as soon as possible and quickly halt the declining tendency,” it added.

Schuster, who is bringing along five other coaching staff to Dalian, was at the helm at Real from 2007 to 2008, winning one La Liga title and the 2008 Spanish Super Cup. He then took charge of Turkish side Besiktas from 2010 to 2011. The last club he managed was Spanish side Malaga and he has been out of work since that contract was terminated in May 2014.

Dalian was promoted to the CSL as last year’s champion of the second-tier Chinese League One. The club did not extend the contract of Spanish manager Juan Ramon Lopez Caro at the end of last season and replaced him with Ma. The replacement was considered “temporary” as the club was welcoming its new investor, the Wanda Group.

Despite the lack of an official announcement, Wanda is believed to have taken over the club, after Dalian made headlines just before the start of the season by signing foreign stars, including Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan from Atletico Madrid, as well as Jose Fonte from West Ham United.

However, the new signings needed time to gel in the team as well as get used to the CSL. After opening the season with three losses, Dalian is currently bottom of the 16-team standing, scoring no goals but having conceded 13. Its biggest defeat was a 0-8 mauling by Shanghai SIPG at Shanghai Stadium in the opening round of the 2018 CSL.

According to Dalian media, Schuster attended his first training session in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, yesterday. He told local media the players showed positive attitude in training, but he would need time to get to know the team and work strategies.

Schuster said he wanted his players to play “brave” football, to control the ball, be aggressive and score more goals. He said players like Carrasco need time to get familiar with new teammates, and vice versa. To begin with he will first explore his players’ ability and potential.

According to Dalian Evening News, Schuster’s contract will be automatically extended if Dalian manages to stay in the CSL at the end of the season. The yearly salary for his coaching team is said to be around 4.5 million euros (US$5.41 million), the paper reported.

The CSL is currently on a two-week break. Dalian’s next league match is against Henan Jianye on March 31.

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