Shanghai - Under-fire Fabio Cannavaro will remain coach of struggling Guangzhou Evergrande for now, but only after a stinging rebuke from the club's hierarchy who warned he needed to get things right.
Cannavaro's two-year reign as manager had appeared all but over last week after the club announced that he would be sidelined indefinitely while captain Zheng Zhi was given temporary control of the Chinese Super League (CSL) leaders.
The 46-year-old Italian has since returned to the helm, the club said, but only after he submitted a "deep self-reflection" report regarding his performance.
The announcement on an official Chinese social media account late Sunday commended Cannavaro for "actively nurturing the achievements of young players."
But it criticised his "weak ability to rectify mistakes, and insufficiently strict handling of players."
"If you are going to do it, do your best," Evergrande Group chairman Xu Jiayin told Cannavaro, according to the statement.
The giant real estate company owns the team.
Guangzhou added that Cannavaro was warned to work harder, improve the standard of his coaching staff, and "raise the players' overall fighting ability to win the Chinese Super League" again.
Cannavaro was sacked once before by Guangzhou, following a failed stint there in 2014-2015.
Returning last year, Cannavaro failed to make it eight straight domestic league titles for the club in southern China.
In March, the 2006 World Cup-winning captain was named coach of the Chinese national side, alongside his job at Guangzhou.
But he failed to win either of his first two matches in charge of China and left saying two roles were too much.
Guangzhou then surged to the top of the CSL, but their form has faded badly in the last two months and they are now only a point ahead of 2018 champions Shanghai SIPG with three matches left in the season.
Evergrande failed to make the final of the AFC Champions League this month when they lost 3-0 on aggregate to Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds in the semi-final.
Cannavaro has also managed Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia and China's Tianjin Quanjian.