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Pub Talk: Can Beijing save the 2011 CSL season?

beers lined upBcheng returns this week to rejoin his virtual drinking partner, the Editor, after a two week holiday which conveniently fell at exact same time as the Chinese Super League break. In this edition of Pub Talk, the Beijing-Guangzhou game dominates – can the capital side stop the Man City of China, from running away with the title? Elsewhere, this week’s virtual drinkers curse the fact that a pop concert has pushed the biggest game of the season to a Monday night. Not content with that, the pub humour continues – the assets of the US women’s football team came up last week, this week the unfeasibly large testicles of departing Beijing striker Davi fall under the microscope – for one last time.

Shanghai Ultra (Shanghai Shenhua): Welcome back B-dog. How did you manage to cope without the Chinese Super League during your trip abroad?

Bcheng (Beijing Guoan): Fortunately, the Chinese Super League was on break while I was away, they took a vacation, and I did too (it wasn’t planned that way, honest)

S: I think anyone who reads this site regularly may have their suspicions…

B: Yeah, yeah, yeah….so did you miss me in the pub? Two weeks without me, what is festering in your Shanghai drugged brain?

S: We had Kenneth in the pub last week, that was pretty cool. This week, my brain is melting in the super-humid 35c + summer weather. Just like Shenhua’s title hopes.

B: I think its safe to say Shanghai’s title hopes have long since disappeared

S: Can’t argue with that much as I wish i could.

B: It’s Guangzhou’s to lose right now, with Beijing having a shot (only if they beat Guangzhou on Monday) and Shandong with an outside chance (I’m discounting Liaoning, as I expect you will too).

S: Yeah. As I said before the break, although Guangzhou have rode their luck so far, with Conca on board now, I just can’t see them pissing a nine point lead against the wall.

B: We’ll see how it goes Monday, if we wake up Tuesday morning and it’s a 6 point lead, anything is possible. If it’s at 9 or more, we can pretty much hand them the title.

S: I was just about to ask about Monday’s match. It would be pick of the round anyway, but with Guangzhou nine points ahead, I don’t think its an exaggeration to say the whole Chinese Super League season could hinge on this game. Would the Beijing correspondent agree with that summary of the situation?

B: I think you’re right on. A win for Guangzhou means its pretty much over. A draw won’t kill Guoan’s hopes entirely, but it will make it a long shot. If Beijing can defeat Guangzhou, it may be that one cut that exposes them to many more.

S: Yeah, so, I think everybody should make sure they are sitting down before I make my next statement – I hope Beijing win.

B: Haha, I totally understand. Your lot still has two matches against Guangzhou, so I’m certainly going to be cheering for you guys at least twice this season.

S: Yeah it’s bizarre to be talking about the season being over because a certain team may run away with it, when Shenhua haven’t even played them once. So what’s up with the game being played on Monday, another stupid fucking concert at Gongti?

B: Yeah, unbelievable. I seriously don’t understand how it all operates. Especially when tickets to the concert weren’t selling so well, so Yongle, who also is in charge of Guoan ticketing, started offering tickets to Monday’s match to everyone who bought a concert ticket. Simply amazing….

S: Typical Chinese football system – putting the fans last as usual. Really? It’s good to see ticket sales increased though once they included the Guoan match as part of the package. Do you think it will be a bigger crowd to see Guangzhou?

B: Well, Guoan fans snapped up some of the tickets, but many are very angry about this. Think about it, for whoever the Taiwanese pop act (or whoever’s concer it is) is, how many of the singer’s fans will actually be football fans? So I’m sure many tickets are either going to be wasted or end up in the hands of scalpers, unfortunately….That said, should be around 40,000.

S: So an average turnout then?

B: We’ll have to see, if this was on the weekend, it would be guaranteed to be a packed house, but a Monday night match may hurt the total.

S: So did Beijing pick up any new signings in the summer transfer window?

B: Yeah, we failed to pick up any domestic ones, despite some rumors connecting us with a few different players. However, we were finally able to replace Davi, and Roberto’s departure had many sad. Their replacements, Keita and Senna, two very tall guys they picked up from the Portuguese league

S: So Davi finally managed to squeeze his huge gonads out of Gongti’s front door!

B: Yeah, yeah….Not sure if either of these big boys will feature against Guangzhou, as Pacheco is unlikely to use two strikers and it seems like Senna is more a midfielder than a defender. Keita looked pretty good in the half hour or so he played against Jiangsu (though that’s not the stiffest of competition). I missed seeing Senna against Hangzhou, though it meant Piao Cheng was on the bench (that could be more due to another niggling injury rather than a switch by Pacheco). If he can go, I’d hope to see Piao on Monday.

S: Well, that’s two big arrivals at Gongti, but departure-wise, do you think Davi maybe got confused about the 3+1 rule?

B: Argh, fortunately this is finally the end of Davi jokes….

S: Hahahahaha. Davi will go down in legend, I’m sad to see him (them?) go.

B: Any predictions for the match on Monday?

S: I think its exactly as we said. You’re lot have had a solid season so far and this will be Guangzhou’s biggest test so far. But I think its got draw written all over it.

B: Yeah, I fear you are right about that. I honestly don’t see my boys losing this one, maybe they squeak past and take it, but a draw is probably in the cards.

S: Come on Bei…….ehh maybe not.

B: Yeah, so who do you guys have?

S: We are away to Shenzhen, we can render our season over good and proper by coming away with nothing.

B: Can’t see that happening.

S: Shenhua have been unlucky one point from 12 is not good enough. But its always the same… they forget how to play in the summer. I think a victory is not beyond us this weekend, but, you just can’t never tell with Shenhua.

B: It’s been a tough year, but at this point, the focus has to be on getting into the top 3 and earning an ACL spot. Even if you win, at best Shenhua will be 13 points back, there are no title hopes, but an ACL spot is still a realistic hope.

S: I think the ACL is our best hope. The FA Cup is back this year, would be good to win that, but obviously the Chinese Super League is what everyone wants. Speaking of the ACL, maybe its a good time to talk about Guangzhou’s chances in it next year?

B: Let’s wait until March for that, see what signings they pick up in the off-season. It is their stated goal to win it within 3 (5?) years. What I do want to talk about, and its something I was planning on discussing in a post, is about the “fairness” of talking about Guangzhou’s relegation. The team pretty much got blown up when it was relegated, to the point it’s almost unrecognizable today.

S: Yes. The fact they were in the C-League 1 last year is totally irrelevant.

B: Different ownership, different logo, different colors, different manager, different players, different stadium. I went back and looked at the Guangzhou side Beijing faced in 2009 and the side they faced this year, only 3 players remained from 2009 (of course the star of that ’09 side is now on Beijing).

S: Exactly. They got relegated for off-pitch reasons, so I think they would have bounced back anyway, massive investment in the squad or not.

B: It’s a pretty boring weekend of matches outside the big Monday night one. The only “6 pointer” when it comes to ACL considerations will be Tianjin and Shandong. Must be hard to have to cheer for Shandong in that one?

S: Maybe for you, haha.

B: Nah, I have no problem rooting for Shandong against Tianjin. It really doesn’t matter for us, but if Tianjin wins, it will mean one more team in the ACL mix. I posted today with my 8 talking points for the league at mid-season. Do you have any you’d add to the list? Or would you want to expand on any of them?

S: I read your very topical post with interest. I think your point about attendance is a good one. I think the Chinese Super League is on the way back. Even if Shenhua’s crowds are mediocre as always. I think, regardless of Guangzhou’s excesses, its given the Chinese Super League a shot in the arm credibility and glamour-wise. It has badly needed these things for quite some time now.

B: Finally, before we close it out, China vs Laos tonight, any thoughts? Who ya got?

S: I was just about to ask what you thought of the 7-2 result. I was actually impressed, since they must have been totally shitting it at 2-0 down.

B: It’s hard to say “impressed”, I mean, this match should have been 7-2 or more, it’s shocking that the side could have gone down by 2, but in the end, it is what it should have been. It just seems like everyone expects them to cruise through, even though this is a World Cup qualifier, I don’t think CCTV is even going to show it. In the end, it should be another blowout tonight. The next round is when things get interesting.

S: For sure the match tonight is a formality. I think even Troussier’s Shenzhen would give Laos a good shafting. What’s going to happen in the next round?

B: The next round, I believe, is the first group stage, when the top sides get involved.

S: So – the million-dollar question – can China make it to Brazil?

B: It all depends on who they get drawn with, who is in charge of the team, etc. If they can make it into the second group stage of qualification, anything’s possible.

S: I don’t see why China can’t make it. The other teams aren’t significantly better than them, with the exception perhaps of Japan and Australia. That still leaves two spots up for grabs.

B: I just hope if they dump Gao (current manager Gao Hongbo), they bring in the right manager. I think the last thing they need is another ex-player type, even if it is Klinsmann or a bigger name. They need a true strategist, not someone who is just a good man manager. Gao handles his squad well, he gets the side up for matches, but his understanding of the game and tactics is too weak, the last thing we need is a more famous version of Gao.

S: I think with a team like China, which is lacking confidence and organization more than it lacks talent, a good manager could easily take them to the World Cup.

B: I agree entirely. The talent is there if they are managed well enough, they should be able to at least contend for one of Asia’s spots. It all comes down to who they pick, a big name is all well and good, but only if it is someone who can seriously help.

S: And on that harmonious note, is it time to down these pints and call it a day on Pub Talk for another week?

B: Yeah, glad to be back in my local for a drink. Cheers to Beijing saving the Chinese Super League season Monday night!

S: To that, I raise my glass also. Come on the 绿毛龟!

UK trained journalist and long-time Chinese football observer Cameron Wilson has been writing about Chinese football for over a decade…

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Yiddo Huayi

    05/08/2011 at 00:39

    Interesting comment from Djite on CSL vs A-League comparisons: http://au.fourfourtwo.com/news/211095,djite-rates-a-league-vs-csl.aspx

    Hard to be able to compare directly (only he and other recent ex A-League players can do that) – my impression was that the CSL was a bit better than A-League.

    I guess he is saying that the spread in quality is greater in the CSL (good teams very good, sh!t teams very sh!t) and on average the A-League is slightly better.

    • bcheng

      05/08/2011 at 02:39

      These are some very interesting comments, I think the head-to-head of CSL vs. A-League, which CSL tends to dominate speaks a lot about the top sides in each league. That said, the point makes sense that the bottom teams in CSL are truly very bad, what makes this unique is that, in theory, he was playing for one of those bad teams, yet he talks about easy games. When you look at the table, what he’s saying really isn’t a big surprise.

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