SHANGHAI, China, Dec 12 – Vitor Pereira wants to go one better than predecessor Andre Villas-Boas by winning a title after being named coach of big-spending Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG on Tuesday.
The 49-year-old, who was once assistant to Villas-Boas at Porto, has been out of football since leaving 1860 Munich following relegation to the German third tier in May.
Pereira, who had notoriously poor relations with Dutch striker Robin van Persie before being sacked by Turkish giants Fenerbahce in August 2016, is tasked with breaking Guangzhou Evergrande’s stranglehold on the Chinese Super League (CSL).
Villas-Boas left SIPG two weeks ago after a turbulent season failed to yield a trophy despite reaching the last four of the Asian Champions League, the final of the Chinese FA Cup and coming second behind Guangzhou in the CSL.
“The Chinese league is a big challenge at the moment, a lot of (foreign) coaches come here, a lot of good players come to this league at this moment,” said Pereira, who plans to speak to his fellow Portuguese and “friend” Villas-Boas about the job.
“I will do my best to help the club to fight to achieve our goals. I know what the club wants and I know what I want for my career, and both of us want to win titles,” he told a press conference at his unveiling.
“This is the main reason why I decided to come here to China, to Shanghai. Together, for sure, we will reach our targets at the end of the season.”
Pereira was number two to Villas-Boas at Porto in the 2010-2011 season and together they won the Portuguese League, Cup and Europa League.
Villas-Boas subsequently left for Chelsea and Pereira took charge of Porto, lifting the Portuguese League twice, before spells in charge of Al Ahli in Saudi Arabia, Olympiakos in Greece and then Fenerbahce.
SIPG boast a squad led by 60-million-euro attacking midfielder Oscar and his fellow Brazilian international Hulk, while in winger Wu Lei they have China’s best offensive player.
Hulk worked under Pereira at Porto and the new coach said he was looking forward to reacquainting with the powerful forward.
“I was with Hulk at Porto for three years and I know the personality and the quality of the player,” said Pereira.
“For sure he will help us a lot, but the key player for me is the team.”
Compared to former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Villas-Boas and the Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro at Guangzhou, Pereira is a relative unknown to Chinese football fans and some SIPG supporters were quick to criticise his appointment.
“To be honest, from the bottom of my heart, I feel like he won’t be able to control the dressing room,” wrote one unhappy fan on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.
“Not really looking forward to his performance, but I hope the results will prove me wrong.”