Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has hailed China as a real rising soccer power and expected it to play a big role in the near future.
The former Real Madrid head coach was impressed by the determination manifested by Chinese soccer, which on Monday witnessed the publication of another milestone plan entitled as the Notice of Publishing The Mid- and Long-Term Development Plan for Chinese Soccer.
According to this document released by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, China aims to rank among the world top teams by 2050.
“I think that China, at this time, is a real rising power. The growing interest for football (soccer) in the country has been strengthened by the arrival of first level players and coaches to the Super League, such as Jackson Martinez, Alex Teixeira, Ramires, Elkerson, Gervinho, (Felipe) Scolari and (Marcello) Lippi, and with the enormous evolution of national players as well, like Ke Sun,” Pellegrini told Xinhua.
The Chinese soccer is benefitting as a whole from the influx of big-name players and coaches, he said.
“I find it extraordinary that the love and the extreme care with which grassroots football is working in China, thanks especially to the training work by established professionals who share their experiences with coaches and players,” he said.
“The arrival of these new stars to the Super League should also be seen as an opportunity. These large investments by clubs generate new opportunities for grassroots football: new facilities, training for coaches, building alliances with professionals around the world… A very important collaboration route is opened to help and consolidate the work of new professionals in China,” he said.
The 62-year-old Chilean saw a bright future being laid out for Chinese soccer which has been buoyed up by positive state reform plans.
“It is very interesting to see how the passion for football in China is growing exponentially and how the professionalization of institutions, players and coaching staff can improve and deliver a very high quality sport,” he said.
“We are seeing now stadiums are being filled up with children who want to become professional footballers.”
Pellegrini reckoned that the 2002 FIFA World Cup where China qualified for the finals turned out to be a landmark for Chinese soccer.
“The qualification of the Chinese national team for the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan, was a huge leap in quality for this sport in China,” he said.
“Since that, all the work that is being developed with the new generation of players is a wise decision and, in my view, a very intelligent strategy. I am sure that in the near future, the Chinese national team will be able to come back to the final stages of the World Cup, where I am sure they will play a big role,” he said.
Pellegrini, who is preparing his Manchester City side for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals second leg at home against Paris Saint-Germain, said he did not care about the personal glory, but would like to see attacking play from his team.
“I always want to win, win and win again. My vision as a coach is that the best way to win is to play, have possession and to attack. The best way to win is to play well,” he said.
“Winning is important, but we earn more by playing well. This is what I always try to transmit to all my players: the ambition to do well, then the results come,” he said.
“It is important not to become obsessed, however we all like to win, of course, there is the element of personal satisfaction… I’m not looking for trophies to say, ‘I’m the best’. I don’t care about that,” he said.
Pellegrini, who will be made redundant at the end of the season as incumbent Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola is to take over his job, is keeping everybody guessing about his next destination.
“The constant search for new horizons has moved me throughout my career,” he said.