Under-fire manager Jean Tigana looked on his way out of Shanghai Shenhua after just six games Friday when he missed a home game following star striker Nicolas Anelka's appointment as player-coach.
Club officials would not confirm the ex-Fulham and Monaco boss, who joined the ambitious team in December, had been sacked or resigned after he skipped Shenhua's 1-0 loss to Tianjin Teda at Hongkou Stadium.
Deputy team manager Yan Xiang said Tigana had been ordered to file a report on the team's failings after just one win this season for Shenhua, who now lie 12th among 16 teams in the Chinese Super League.
"The club has just made some adjustments to its coaching staff," Yan told a press conference, when asked if Tigana had left.
"According to the request of the top levels of management of the club, Tigana is now summing up previous matches and failings of training and making a proposal for change."
But separately, Shenhua's Australian forward Joel Griffiths indicated clearly that he believed the 56-year-old Frenchman was finished at Shenhua.
"We have a new coach, new staff, so hopefully on Sunday we can meet them and go on from there," he told AFP after Friday's game.
"I saw him (Tigana) today. I wished him all the best in whatever he does. That was it. This is football."
When asked whether Tigana had left the club, Griffiths said: "It's obvious I think at the moment.
"What you see is the reality of football. He's not here so we have to deal with the new coaches coming in."
Shenhua, bankrolled by colourful industrialist Zhu Jun, who landed Anelka's signature late last year, also fired three coaching staff hand-picked by Tigana in a wholesale shake-up this week.
Tigana, when contacted earlier by AFP, had said he expected to attend Friday's game. But he also admitted he was in the dark about his future at Shenhua.
"I have absolutely nothing to tell you. because I do not know myself," he said over the phone. "I am currently waiting for letters from the club. I am not aware of anything."
Tigana would not comment when contacted again during the match. Anelka also refused to answer questions in English or French as he left the stadium.
But the well-travelled former Chelsea, Arsenal and French international star trumpeted his new position on Twitter late on Thursday.
"It's official. I just become the new player-manager of Shanghai Shenhua," Anelka wrote.
This week's events extend a tumultuous period for Chinese soccer, which had bounced back from a major corruption scandal with a series of big-money signings financed with profits from a long-running economic boom.