No football manager likes to go out with a loss, but Luiz Felipe Scolari was probably less vexed that his team was beaten 2-1 by Tianjin Quanjian. After all, his side Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao had already won the Chinese Super League two games earlier. That meant the southern Chinese team – backed by two of China’s richest men, Evergrande’s Xu Jiayin and Alibaba’s Jack Ma – had won the league for the seventh year in a row.
The 68 year-old Brazilian coach – known in England as ‘Big Phil’ when he managed Chelsea – paid tribute to the crowd at the Tianhe Stadium: “Thank you Guangzhou Evergrande for bringing me to China and to Guangzhou where I spent a sweet two-and-a-half years with you.” China’s top team has been tight-lipped about his successor, but much of the speculation has centred on Italian Fabio Cannavaro who coached the Tianjin team that bested Guangzhou last Saturday. On Tuesday he quit that role, leading to further media reports that he will be heading south to the provincial capital of Guangdong. Scolari’s Guangzhou topped the league, finishing six points clear of Shanghai SIPG, which is managed by the former Porto and Tottenham coach Andre Villas-Boas.