Sousa leaves Tianjin Quanjian role after form slump

Paulo Sousa FiorentinaGetty Images

Former Portugal international Paulo Sousa has left his position as head coach of Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian after less than a year in charge.

Sousa, who had spells managing in the Championship and League One between 2008 and 2010, has won just seven league games since being appointed last November and leaves with the club, from Tianjin province in the north west of the country, only five points above the relegation places.

Despite indifferent league form, the Portuguese guided the club to an historic quarter-final place in the Asian Champions League, but after a run of five games without a win, which has left the club in danger of relinquishing the top-flight place they won in 2016, Sousa and Quanjian have parted company.

"After friendly consultations between the two sides, Mr. Paulo Sousa will no longer serve as the head coach of the Tianjin Quanjian football club,” said a statement from the club.

“Since being appointed as the head coach on November 6, 2017, Mr. Paulo Sousa and his team have done a good job and led the team to the quarter-final of the 2018 AFC Champions League. It makes the club's history, and it is the best result that Chinese Super League teams got in the same season.

“Tianjin Quanjian Football Club wants to express sincere gratitude to Mr. Paulo Sousa and wish him all the best.”

The club made European headlines in January 2017 when Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel was lured from Zenit St Petersburg, but his departure for Borussia Dortmund in August coincided with the beginning of Quanjian’s slump – a collapse which has now cost the manager his job.

Sousa managed Leicester City, Queens Park Rangers and Swansea City at the end of the last decade but failed to secure promotion with any of the three clubs, before embarking on a journeyman coaching career.

He is best known for his performances at the heart of midfield for Dortmund and Juventus in the 1990’s, becoming one of only a handful of players to win back-to-back Champions League titles with different clubs.