4/14/2012

Anelka named as Shenhua 'player-coach'

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Shanghai Shenhua's Nicolas Anelka sits on the bench during the team's friendly soccer match against Shanghai East Asia in Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai March 3, 2012.

SHANGHAI - French striker Nicolas Anelka has been handed a new role at Shanghai Shenhua as the Chinese Super League side sacked three assistant coaches following a dismal run of results.

The 33-year-old Anelka will become a "player-coach" at Shenhua, participating in the management of daily training, the club said on Thursday.

French head coach Jean Tigana remained on board, but the club hired four new assistant coaches - two Britons and two Frenchmen, according to a club statement.

Shenhua are now 11th in the Chinese Super League, having won only two of their five league matches so far.

Anelka, the most high-profile foreign player ever to sign for the Chinese league, said the change in coaching staff marked a "new beginning" for the team.

"Being a coach and being a player are different, but I am sure will have a better communication with my teammates on the field," he told a press conference, where Tigana was not present.

Anelka, a former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Chelsea player, signed a two-year contract with Shenhua in January amid hopes he could boost performances at the club, which finished in the bottom half of the table last season.

Tigana, the former Fulham and Monaco boss, joined Shenhua in December last year.

(Xinhua)

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