Lee has previous when it comes to falling out with players – as happened with Beijing Guoan – especially those he feels are not pulling their weight. He especially hated losing to Korean teams and livescore publicly criticised the South Americans following the recent home Champions League defeat at the hands of Jeonbuk Motors. He felt that complacency was setting in. There were early signs of that when Cleo, Conca and Muriqui all reported back for January pre-season training late. Conca, one of the highest-paid players in the world and the star of the club, was then banned for nine games for publicly voicing his discontent at being substituted. That is the feeling of pretty much the whole city as Lee was fired last week by a Guangzhou Evergrande aiming to become ever grander. At least the gruff South Korean, whose passion, honesty and professionalism was respected by all in Chinese football, can console himself with the fact that it took a World Cup-winning coach to force him out. Not many in Asia can say that. Hikmat Irgashev was the last – the Uzbek was succeeded by Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2009 at Bunyodkor. This may be the club’s first appearance in the tournament but the boss – Xu Jiayin, China’s seventh richest man – wants the title. While the Reds won their group, the one of death, they stumbled through in the last minute of the last game thanks to ibcbet a Dario Conca penalty. It wasn’t quite as a spectacular a strike as Steven Gerrard’s drive at the same stage of the European version against Olympiakos back in December 2004, but it could be just as meaningful – Liverpool went on to win the trophy after being seconds away from early elimination.
Former Brazil boss Scolari was, if reports are to be believed, paid even more than Lippi’s €10 million a year but soon became sbobet bored in Central Asia and did little to justify his sky-high salary. China, however, is no Uzbekistan, and Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, is no Tashkent; it remains to be seen if Lippi is, in Asian terms at least, a Scolari or not.