Hulk backing new Shanghai SIPG coach Vitor Pereira to deliver
Brazilian striker Hulk is confident new Shanghai SIPG coach Vitor Pereira can lead the club to their first piece of silverware when the Chinese Super League season kicks off in March.
SIPG have yet to win a trophy despite huge sums spent on luring a host of foreign players to the club, but the former Porto and Zenit St Petersburg forward is convinced Pereira can deliver where Sven-Goran Eriksson and Andre Villas-Boas fell short.
"I know Pereira well," said Hulk. "He's a very good coach who is ambitious. He has been keeping us on the right track on a daily basis and I hope his leadership can improve our results.
"Now there's a great atmosphere in the team. It's nice to have this kind of atmosphere at the start of the season and it will put us in a good frame of mind going into the New Year. Hopefully God will bless us with a great year and better achievements."
Pereira has replaced Villas-Boas after the former Chelsea boss quit at the end of the 2017 season, when SIPG finished in second place in the Chinese Super League as well as runners-up in the Chinese FA Cup. The club also reached the semifinals of the AFC Champions League.
Last season was the club's best-ever performance but they still failed to win a trophy and Hulk, who joined Shanghai in June 2016 for a then-record €55 million, is desperate to bring that drought to an end.
"I've been with SIPG a year and a half now and I'm desperate to win a championship," Hulk said. "I hope we can do it in the new season. I'll try 100 percent to help my team and my teammates."
Pereira's task of delivering the club's first title has been made more difficult by new rules governing the use of foreign players put in force by the Chinese football authorities last month, stating teams must start each game with the same number of players under 23 as they do foreign talent.
But Hulk believes the competition for places at SIPG among a foreign contingent that also features former Chelsea star Oscar and his Brazilian compatriot Elkeson will give the team a boost.
"As far as the internal competition between the foreign players in the team is concerned, it will be a difficult choice for the coach but it will be a good thing for the team because we have a good pool of players to choose from," he said. "What we need to do is perform well in training."
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch