Who is Cannavaro the coach?

by | Jan 20, 2022 19:04

With reports emerging that Fabio Cannavaro has been interviewed for the vacant Everton manager’s position, Oli Coates takes a look at Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning captain’s coaching career so far. 

Despite standing only 5 feet 9 inches tall, Fabio Cannavaro was one of the most imposing centre-backs of his day, and indeed of any day. The question now is whether he can exert the same authority over a dressing room as a coach that he did when coming up against opposition forwards. 

It’s been reported that the 48-year-old has been interviewed as part of Everton’s search for a replacement for Rafa Benitez, who was sacked in the wake of the Toffees’ slide towards the Premier League’s relegation zone. Given the likes of Jose Mourinho, Roberto Martinez and Goodison hero Wayne Rooney have been linked to the job, Cannavaro has to be considered a shock contender. 

So, what has the former defender been up to since he hung up his boots in 2011 on the back of a serious knee injury, a couple of months shy of his 38th birthday? 

Despite only playing 16 times for UAE outfit Al Ahli, who he joined after the single season back at Juventus that followed his three-year stint with Real Madrid, Cannavaro took up a role as global ambassador and technical director for the Dubai-based side. He then became Al Ahli’s assistant coach in 2013, before moving to China the following year. 

In November 2014, Cannavaro was appointed head coach of Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande, now known as Guangzhou FC. Despite being top of the league at the time, he was replaced after seven months by Brazil’s 2002 World Cup-winning manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari. 

He headed to Saudi Arabia four months later for a short-lived spell as Al-Nassr boss, before returning to China in June 2016. Cannavaro took the reins at second tier side Tianjin Quanjian, winning the title in his first season to gain promotion to the CSL and guiding his team to a third-placed finish on their return to the top flight. 

There was a return to Guangzhou Evergrande in late 2017, where fortunes can be considered mixed. Cannavaro did win the Chinese Super League in 2019, but he also suffered disappointing title losses and failed to live up to the standards set by Scolari and fellow Italian Marcello Lippi in the Asian Champions League. 

Indeed, Guangzhou won the CSL seven times in a row before Cannavaro’s arrival, with the former Napoli, Parma, Inter and Juventus man only able to finish second in his debut campaign. There was a temporary replacement as head coach in 2019 for him to attend corporate culture training, before he left the club permanently for a second time in September 2021. 

Although Cannavaro was named Chinese FA Coach of the Year in 2017 and won the Chinese FA Cup the following year, there were criticisms of his style of play at times. This was the reason cited for replacing him with Scolari, with Cannavaro unable to produce the exciting attacking football desired by his employers. 

That was despite Italy’s most-capped outfield player acknowledging the football in China lacks the intensity and technique found in Europe. He did manage to mould a team of youngsters into a title-winning team, and was hamstrung by the departure of key players such as former Barcelona and Brazil midfielder Paulinho, but concerns will remain over his suitability for the massive challenge that would await at Everton. 

In terms of his footballing philosophy, Cannavaro has previously said: “I’m a coach who asks the players to play, a coach who asks to give intensity with and without the ball, because football is about time and the players have to understand that.” 

Time is not something that’s afforded to Everton managers, with the club looking for their sixth permanent boss in six years under owner Farhad Moshiri. As such, the Azzurri legend will need to hit the ground running should he get the nod at Goodison Park. 

@olicoates

1 Comment

  1. Feroli

    Everton = suicide mission. Plus I doubt they would offer him the job. he has had a very interesting coaching career to date. It must have been interesting working for so long in China and the Middle East.

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