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Gary White - Masterminding China Survival

Same country and same result. Gary White has now not only saved one Chinese club from relegation, but two, with his latest relegation fight victory with Nantong Zhiyun F.C in China League One.

Taking over with 8 matches left of the season and placed firmly in a relegation dog fight with seemingly slim chances of survival, Gary White's reign at Nantong couldn't have got off to a worse start. Losing their first two matches which included a home defeat against ex-club Shanghai Shenxin, Nantong were heading straight back down to China League 2.

As with any new appointment at a club, of course it takes time but when you only have 8 games to turn things around, Nantong needed close to a miracle. Luckily for them, their new Head Coach had a proven track record of galvanizing a team who'd already achieved past successes at both International and club level.

With the first couple of games out of the way, the club then went on a 5 match unbeaten streak leaving Gary and his squad needing a calculated result on the final day to escape a relegation play-off.

As if the script couldn't have been any crueler to the newly promoted team, their final match was away against Qingdao Huanghai, who had just won promotion to the Chinese Super League as league champions. This in turn, made Gary White's feat even more phenomenal, going away on the final match of the season and beating the newly crowned league champions 2-1, making it 6 matches unbeaten and securing the club's League One status for another season.

This however, isn't the first time the British coach has masterminded a Great Escape in China, when back in 2016 he steered China League One club Shanghai Shenxin, away from the relegation zone after taking the reins mid-way through the season. The club eventually finished in a secure mid-table position and ended up only 9 points off a promotion place, an emphatic turn around.

Winning and not getting beaten when it matters are arguably the most important ingredients to club football. It's a skill Gary has now finessed in China on two occasions, and previously in Japan's J2 League where his Tokyo Verdy team were 7 points from the play-offs, before eventual club politics led to his departure.

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Dec 08, 2023

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