Villas-Boas on the brink at SIPG

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Andre Villas-Boas. [file photo]

Andre Villas-Boas' future as manager of Shanghai SIPG looks increasingly uncertain after the big-spending club wrapped up its season without a single trophy on the weekend.

The former Tottenham and Chelsea boss refused to say if he would remain at the SIPG helm following Sunday's CFA Cup final failure against city rival Shenhua.

After SIPG finished runnerup in the league during a season frequently punctuated by Villas-Boas' brushes with controversy, the 40-year-old's days at the club look numbered.

Some media reported Villas-Boas needed to lift the CFA Cup to keep his job, although last week the Portuguese, who has been linked with the vacant Everton job by British media, claimed his future had already been decided, regardless of that result.

"SIPG knows my decision and soon you will know about it," a dejected Villas-Boas said following the 3-2 CFA Cup final second-leg victory over Shenhua, which ultimately resulted in a 3-3 win on away goals for the blue half of Shanghai.

"Our ambition was to win trophies and we fell short of that," he added. "So I have to accept my responsibility and failure in this aspect.

"But the team is in a much better place now to win trophies. But of course we wanted to win something and hopefully they can win something in the next few years."

In January, SIPG splashed an Asian-record $71 million to land Oscar from Chelsea, while another $60 million was spent on his Brazilian compatriot Hulk in June 2016.

However, despite Hulk's 17-goal Chinese Super League haul, allied to a tally of 20 from Chinese striker Wu Lei, consistency proved a problem for SIPG as it failed to dethrone Guangzhou Evergrande as CSL champion, finishing six points behind Luiz Felipe Scolari's side.

On the Asian stage, SIPG's AFC Champions League run ended in the semifinals against eventual winner Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan.

Villas-Boas, who arrived in China from Zenit St Petersburg in November 2016, has not exactly endeared himself to soccer authorities here. He was suspended twice by the Chinese Football Association for disciplinary violations and has often criticized how the CFA runs the game.

According to Oriental Sports Daily, Villas-Boas apologized to his players after Sunday's cup final failure. However, the coach has not been forgiven by many SIPG fans and media.

"SIPG has spent billions to get empty results and earn no titles," read a damning article on internet portal Sohu Sports. "After the end of this season, the precondition to renew Villas-Boas' contract was that the Portuguese win at least one title. Now, certainly, he has to leave."

Sports pundit Huang Jianxiang believes Villas-Boas' constant tinkering with his starting XI was a major contributing factor to SIPG's sorry season.

"It seems that Villas-Boas' variation of tactics only pushed the team into a more uncomfortable situation," he wrote on Weibo.

Another commentator, Li Xuan, opined on Weibo: "SIPG's performance is just too poor.

"Even if SIPG has renewed Villas-Boas' contract, they should cancel it. Why did they paid that much money for him?"

Currently, 12 out of 16 CSL clubs are managed by foreign coaches, with Italy World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro leading Evergrande's title defense next term after recently succeeding Brazilian Scolari.

Another high-profile Italian, Fabio Capello, is in charge at Jiangsu Suning, while Germany is represented by a trio of bosses - Roger Schmidt (Beijing Guo'an), Felix Magath (Shandong Luneng Taishan) and Uli Stielike (Tianjin Teda).

Spaniard Gregorio Manzano (Guizhou), Portugal's Paulo Sousa (Tianjin Quanjian), Chilean Manuel Pellegrini (Hebei China Fortune), Serbian Dragan Stojkovic (Guangzhou R&F) and South Korean pair Chang Woe-ryong (Chongqing Lifan) and Park Tae-ha (Yanbian Fude) complete the league's foreign coaching contingent.

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