SHANGHAI — Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua said Thursday striker Nicolas Anelka would help coach the team along with his playing duties, but denied it had sacked French head coach Jean Tigana.
A Shenhua official confirmed reports they had sacked three assistant coaches after winning only two of their five matches so far this season, but said Tigana was still in his position following speculation he would also be axed.
"We fired the assistant coaches. Tigana is still the coach of the team," the official, who declined to be named, told AFP on Thursday. "Anelka is now on the coaching team."
The Oriental Sports Daily said the club had sacked three assistant coaches brought on board by Tigana and hired four new ones as replacements.
The new assistant coaches were two French nationals, Alioune Kissima Toure and Jean-Florent Ikwange Ibenge, the newspaper said.
Two Britons also joined the staff, former Birmingham City club fitness coach Dan Harris and former Bishop's Stortford club coach Ian Michael Walker, who will work with the goalkeepers, it said.
Former Chelsea striker Anelka, the most high-profile foreign footballer to sign for the Chinese league, joined Shenhua in January amid hopes he could improve the club, who finished in the bottom half of the table last season.
Tigana, the former Fulham and Monaco boss, also joined Shenhua as the club sought out more foreign talent.
At a news conference in December shortly after his arrival, Tigana denied the move was about money.
"My choice is not financial, it is for sport and life."
At the time, he called on fans and staff to support him: "I will do the maximum, but alone you cannot win. I need the whole club to be behind me to have this winning mentality."
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »