Nobody really knew who Shanghai Shenhua was until they signed Nicolas Anelka and now they are back in the world football news after tapping the Frenchman to be player-coach. Exactly what "player-coach" means remains unclear, though, and the limited media in China isn't doing much to help clarify the situation.
The club released a statement on Thursday stating that, "Nicolas Anelka from this day will have the status of player-coach, participating in management of the team's daily training."
That the club is looking to make a change is not a surprise. They have won just two of their first five matches and it was expected that there would be some changes. Three assistant coaches were fired, but depending on the report you trust, Tigana might still be Shanghai's manager. Some reports indicated that he had been retained, while others indicated that he was fired too.
Because of the uncertainty about Tigana's status, it is unclear whether or not Anelka is the manager or just on the coaching staff. A press conference announcing the move didn't exactly clarify things either.
"Being a coach and being a player are different, but I will have a better connection with my teammates on the field," Internet portal Sina quoted him as saying in the news conference. "I hope I can lead the team to success in tomorrow's game."
That sounds like a man who is the manager and leading the team, but because foreign media were not allowed at the press conference, that could not be clarified. So Anelka is the new "player-coach" at Shanghai. Exactly what the "coach" part entails is not exactly clear.
What will be interesting, though, is how he responds when a player tells him "go to [bleep] yourself, you son of a [bleep]." Can this be a reality show?