AVB, Pellegrini... and Magath?! Meet the bosses in China's ex-Premier League Club

Andre Villas-Boas

While the trickle of big-name players heading to Chinese Super League pitches has turning into a flood, there is just as big a pool for the competition's touchline-dwellers

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Of the 16 teams in the Chinese Super League's top tier, five are coached by former Premier League managers and four of them will be trying to stop Luiz Felipe Scolari from guiding Guangzhou Evergrande to a seventh successive title.

There is a very good chance that whichever of these five win this mini-battle will be lifting the trophy come November...

1. Andre Villas-Boas (Shanghai SIPG)

Not only are there five ex-Premier League coaches now in the CSL, two of them used to occupy the hot seat at Stamford Bridge in Scolari and Villas-Boas.

The Portuguese tactician arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2011 but was out on his ear the following March. A subsequent spell at Tottenham didn't go much better and he now arrives at Shanghai SIPG – via Russia – to succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson. The Swede was relieved of his duties after a third-place CSL finish and a quarter-final spot in the Asian Champions League, a decision that reveals how demanding these Chinese club bosses can be. 

All smiles... AVB has a fresh opportunity in China

There is talent for AVB to call upon. Hulk arrived last year and the team also has Wu Lei, China's best attacker. If that wasn't enough, Oscar arrived earlier this month.

AVB has admitted that he went to Chelsea too young, but the challenge in China for the now-39-year-old should be just right. Taking the title off Big Phil would also be a fine achievement that would go down well in Europe too.

Target: Villas-Boas has the squad to challenge at home and in Asia, and after a second-placed finish in 2015 and third in 2016, the club is desperate for a first league championship.

2. Felix Magath (Shandong Luneng)

The German had a short spell in charge of Fulham that not only ended in Premier League relegation in 2014, but also inflicted further damage to a coaching reputation that had taken a bit of a beating since his titles with Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg.

He picked up the nicknamed 'Saddam', in reference to a training regime that makes travel in the Middle Kingdom during the CNY look positively pleasant

He picked up the nicknamed 'Saddam' at some of his former clubs, in reference to a training regime that makes travel in the Middle Kingdom during the Chinese New Year look positively pleasant.

Fulham was Magath's first job outside Germany, Shandong is the second, and the coach has work to do to show he can deliver the goods.

Magath arrived just before the halfway point of last season, replacing Mano Menezes after the 2010 champions and third-placed team from 2015 sank to the bottom of the table. He led Shandong to the last eight of the Asian Champions League and, more importantly, to safety – although only just. The Jinan club finished one spot and two points above the drop zone, partly thanks to the summer arrival of Italian striker Graziano Pelle.

Magath could restore his dented reputation in the CSL

Shandong are a traditional powerhouse and the last team not called Guangzhou Evergrande to be champion. That 2010 title was their third in five years, but it all felt like a lifetime ago last season. Magath has to bring some of those old feelings back.

Target: A much better season than last is the basic requirement. A challenge for the top three and the accompanying Asian Champions League spots would be ideal, with a top-six finish probably being acceptable given the increased competition.