Fabio Capello has set his sights on steering new employers Jiangsu Suning away from the Chinese Super League (CSL) relegation zone and success in the Chinese FA Cup as the Italian prepares for the latest chapter of his long coaching career.
Capello was appointed at the weekend to replace South Korea’s Choi Yong-soo with the club languishing in 15th place in the 16-team league after a disastrous start to the campaign.
The Italian, who won the UEFA Champions League with AC Milan and Serie A title with AS Roma, will be assisted by former Italy wing-back Gianluca Zambrotta, with the pair signing contracts that will take them through to the end of next season.
“When I received Jiangsu’s offer, their long-term plan struck me,” Capello told reporters. “I’m here first to lift our position in the Chinese Super League rankings and in the meantime try to gain something in the Chinese FA Cup.
“After three days of training, I have got to know the players’ abilities and I think we will be able to fight on in both competitions. I have a lot of faith in both the Suning corporation and in the club.”
Jiangsu finished as runners-up in both the CSL and FA Cup last season but have won just once in 12 league matches this campaign.
The club’s best form has been in the Asian Champions League, where they reached the round of 16, only to be eliminated by fellow Chinese side Shanghai SIPG the day before Choi stood down.
Capello, who turns 71 on Sunday, claimed he came into the job with knowledge of the Chinese game, having worked on the league during his time as a pundit on Italian television.
“In Italy I am a guest on some TV channels and I have commentated on CSL matches,” he said.
“I’ve watched lots of Jiangsu’s matches and have a certain level of understanding of the team. But I won’t comment on individual players because football is a team sport.”
One of the first tasks facing Capello will be to stem the flow of goals leaked by his defence, who have conceded 22 times this season, the second-worst record in the league. “Zambrotta will be focusing on the construction of the defence,” Capello added.
“As one of the best defenders in the world, he also has rich coaching experience. I will also share my knowledge of defence with him too.” Capello’s first game in charge will be on Sunday when his side host 13th-placed Changchun Yatai in Nanjing.