After new Shanghai Port manager Javier Pereira took over, the ex-Henan head coach has led the team with little insight for the outside world. Facing up Wuhan Three Towns, the defending champions, in the opening game of the new season of the Chinese Super League, the Spaniard even chose to skip the pre-game training, forgoing the opportunity to familiarize the team with the ground by turning down the chance to step on the field.
According to Oriental Sports Daily, Shanghai’s main sports newspaper, Pereira has made few public appearances public appearance since taking over as Shanghai Port manager on the first day of March. The only occasion he appeared before the media was on the 2nd, for his introduction press conference, and a test match on the 6th of April to test the new football-only stadium the team has unveiled. The Spaniard has not given any exclusive interviews to the media as the new manager for the red side of Shanghai. And under his strict instruction, the club did not hold an open day for the media or fans before the start of the season. Only last Friday (14th), before the team left for the road, some of the fans went to the Century Park training base to see them off. During the meet-and-greet, Pereira didn’t say much, except that he hoped to make everyone proud with his performance.
It’s worth noting that all the media and fans were there after the team had finished training, meaning there was little insight into the Port side under Pereira until his official debut last Saturday night.
This shroud of mystery was maintained until the team arrived in Wuhan. As Oriental Sports Daily reports, the team has broken the team’s usual custom for away games in the past. Shanghai Port used to arrive two days early and then train the next day and attend a pre-match press conference. With the arrival of Pereira, this has been adjusted and the team did not go to the Wuhan Sports Centre Stadium for training, but went straight to the hotel for a rest. Even Pereira himself didn’t stop to take a look at the pitch after the pre-match press conference.
To a certain extent, this arrangement is a step closer to the European teams, and part of the reason why there was adaptation training for the domestic matches was probably because some of the stadium conditions were really worrying and the team had to feel them in advance and find out the tricky spots on the pitch.
At the same time, Javier brought along youngster Liu Xiaolong, who had only been promoted to first team this season and without any doubt had no prospect of making it to the regular rotation, to the pre-match conference. This move further made it difficult for Pedro Morilla to guess what is in his mind. It is no longer required for the head coach to bring a starter to the pre-game match press conference as the rules were changed two years ago. Although the two Spaniards had already met in the league last year, for Pereira, who already changed job once, he wanted to create as many “surprises” as possible for the other side.