Former Shenbei coach Haan doesn't agree with Evergrande's methods
Guangzhou Evergrande boss Xu Jiayin firmly believes tough rules will build a strong team, and those rules apply to all and sundry.
Evergrande's four South American players have been given harsh penalties for returning late to the club before the current CSL season started. Cleo was fined 500,000 yuan ($79,280), Muriqui and Paulo 300,000 yuan each, and Dario Conca was made to pay 150,000 yuan.
Argentine midfielder Conca, who became one of the world's highest-paid players when he signed with Evergrande last summer, received further punishment this month for publicly criticizing coach Lee Jang-soo after being taken off the pitch during the club's AFC Champions League match against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at home on May 1.
The club announced Conca would be suspended for nine matches and fined 1 million yuan. The 28-year-old was also told to respect the authority of the head coach. However, the club was forced to make a concession when Muriqui was injured and couldn't play for 90 minutes in Evergrande's final group match against Thailand's Buriram United.
Conca was included in Evergrande's starting line-up and scored a penalty in the 90th minute to seal a 2-1 victory on Tuesday, which sent the Cantonese club into the next round after topping Group H.
The club explained Xu had decided to exclude the AFC Champions League games from the suspension, which has been seen as a move to protect the authority of the head coach while allowing Conca to help the club achieve its Asian ambitions.
However, Evergrande's philosophy has not impressed Dutch coach Arie Haan, who has managed three Chinese clubs and the Chinese national team. He said the club couldn't protect the coach by simply punishing players, and said the coach should have the "real say" about the team.
"You cannot buy respect," he said. "Respect can't come from punishment. Saying 'I punish the player, because it's good for you', actually is bad for the coach, because (the club boss) has made the decision instead of the coach."
Haan also said reports of Lee possibly being replaced have been allowed to grow out of control.
"Clubs also should not allow rumors about the coach, as the players then think he is not the coach," Haan said. "If players think someone else is already coming, or you have managers in the club who make decisions over the coach, then maybe you respect him (the coach) as a person, but can't respect his work, because everybody is going over his head.
"When you have a group, the coach must have the final say and be the boss. The players must know this, and I always told the players in China that nobody can make sure you play - only me. And nobody can influence me about whether you play or not," said Haan.
Haan added that players shouldn't be motivated by money.
"It's best to recruit players who have a real interest in playing," Haan said.
"When you take money from a player's pocket, you have an enemy, but I want a good player whose heart is with the team and the club. Rules are necessary to establish boundaries, but punishment cannot solve all problems.
"If a player comes three times late, he is showing he is not interested, then he can go. I don't need players like that. The players should be there on time, they know they should be interested, and should show their teammates that because when somebody is late it means the other players must wait. We call it social control in Holland."
Haan said if players are fined in Europe, the money goes into a pool and is disbursed among the players at the end of the season.
"Maybe (the players) go somewhere, or have a party together, whatever, with this money after the season. I have also heard where the money goes to charities," he said.
"But I have coached for almost 30 years and I have rarely punished any players, because it doesn't bring you anything. You have to deal with it in another way. For example, you have to look very clearly into a player's character before buying him. When you buy a player like (Mario) Balotelli, you should not be surprised about what could happen."
Though having led Chinese club Tianjin Teda to the round of 16 in the AFC Champions League in 2011 and won a berth at this year's tournament by claiming the CFA Cup, Haan left Teda and moved to second-tier club Shenyang Shenbei last November. He quit that job this month after a seven-game losing streak.