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Pub Talk: China Derby Aftermath…

In ‘s regular Pub Talk feature, this week the China Derby dominates proceedings as BCheng claims full bragging rights over the Editor following Beijing’s 3-0 victory over Shanghai, whilst the editor himself tries his best to gloss over a bad week for Shenhua fans and refuses to discuss his side’s home embarrassment against Nanchang. The upcoming summer transfer window provides plenty of talking points – in particular the phenomenal signing of Conca by Guangzhou. Meanwhile, the duo congratulate fellow WTF contributor Kenneth on his recent engagement, as Bcheng offers valuable insights into the tricky matter of loving a football team and a woman at the same time.

BCheng (Beijing Guoan): So I didn’t even have the chance to laugh at your lot’s failure at home against pathetic Nanchang before the big China Derby came up, now I can gloat doubly.

Shanghai Ultra (Shanghai Shenhua): Go on then. Let’s get the humiliation out of the way.

B: I’ll be big about it, I’m really happy about the 3 points, but we still have to go to Hongkou. And even though it was a memorable win, the way things are going neither of our sides has a shot at the league. That said, 3-0, 3-0, fuck yeah! Wang Dalei SB!

S: Ha-ha. Is that the best you can do? Pathetic.

B: I said I’m being big about it…

S: Typical Beijing. All talk, no action.
B: It was a great match. If Salmeron could have finished on that gift he was given early on, it could have been very different.

S: Well I think 3-0 massively flattered Beijing. I’m going to write a report a bit later. But for now, I’d say that, on another night it could have been much different.

B: Are you going to whine about the (righteous) penalty?

S: Yes – penalty my arse. Football is a contact sport!

B: Do you think Feng Renliang witnessed the future in Wang Xiaolong last night and is now worried? A goal, an assist, and a red card…the footballing equivalent of a Gordie Howe hat trick (for all you Canadian readers out there).

S: What do you mean?

B: If Wang keeps up playing the way he did, he’s in line for a national team call up, most likely resulting in Feng losing his place.

S: Maybe he will wrap his arms around Feng’s waist, as he did to Dai Lin to get sent off, and throw him off the national squad.

B: I was seriously concerned about how Zhou Ting would do in handling Feng’s speed, but he shut him down all night long, so much so that Feng was venturing over to the other side of the field at times to get away from Zhou.

S: Feng always switches sides. I thought he had a pretty good game, Beijing looked a bit vulnerable on the flanks as far as I could see.

B: With the exception of Lei Tenglong, who was only making his second first team appearance, our defense was all over 30 last night, Shanghai should have been able to abuse our back four better than they did.

S: The ref made some bad calls. Beijing players went to ground pretty easy. One decision against Angulo was a joke, he was fouled near the by line when it was a foul against him.

B: Haha, supporters of different sides will see things differently. While I’d love to bask in the glory a little longer, is it about time to move on?

S: You’re god-dammed right.

B: I tend to pay a lot of attention to kits and the like, did you notice the big ass patch that overtook the nice, simple Chinese Super League logo on the sleeve Wednesday night, announcing Wanda’s involvement? All the stadium signage was also changed.

S: I saw something looked different, but didn’t notice what exactly.

B: Yeah, the thing is massive, not a fan of it. With this being the “silly season” there’s also been a ton of transfer news, lots of signings around the country lately.

S: Yes – including a certain Brazilian league player of the year. What’s your take on $15 million a year Conca?

B: I want to see him play on the pitch before I say much. It puts the silly in silly season that Guangzhou is spending that much money, we’ll see if it pays off.

S: Yeah. I think he will be a massive hit and I hope he will lead to other top players coming. It’s ironic isn’t it? We were just talking a few weeks ago in a Pub Talk that the days of the Chinese Super League bringing big name players in their twilight years was over thanks to the MLS.

B: True, though he’s not a “name” most Chinese people have heard of. I think it’s a wait and see situation. The Chinese Super League has yet to attract anybody with a lot of caps, it tends to be guys on the outside, like Derek Riordan going to Shaanxi or Marius Bialsco going to Tianjin, both recent signings

S: Yeah Conca is not known outside of South America for sure. But I think anyone who is the Brazilian League player of the year has to be a top quality player. Just because he didn’t go to Europe doesn’t mean he’s not a great player, as has been suggested in some quarters.

B: You’re always taking a gamble when you bring in players unfamiliar with your league, I think it is especially hard when you have to let one or two go in that guy’s place. Shanghai’s had a foreigner leave, Beijing’s had one go and two brought in (as well as two Chinese players leave). I know it’s when the transfer window opens, but these sort of mid-season changes can’t be easy.

S: Yes definitely its a risk, we have seen many foreigners come and fail completely. Maurice Ross was a good example, I believe he was the first Scottish player to play in the Chinese Super League. So its going to be interesting if Riordan signs for Shaanxi. He’s still not that old 28, he could be a big hit. But, he’s a bit of a nutter.

B: Are we in for Gazza, Act 2? Xian isn’t quite Lanzhou, but it’s not that westernized.

S: Yeah, I like Xian, it would be interesting. I think Riordan could make it.

B: With a lot of these signings, I have no clue who they are or what to expect. You just have to wait and see things work when they get on the field. With that in mind, is it time to look at the full slate of matches this weekend?

S: It is – that would allow me to gloss over the defeat to Nanchang. It’s been a horrible week for Shenhua fans. But, a trip to Qingdao beach on Saturday should be a chance to get back on the rails.

B: Though with the way Qingdao has been playing, it could make a bad week even worse.

S: I think another defeat would kill any hopes of mounting a title challenge. Also, Riascos has now left, I heard we are getting a Honduran replacement, I’m disappointed this hasn’t been taken care of already, but either way, our front line is looking threadbare.

B: The news says you’ve signed a Columbian. I think you’re right about a defeat killing your title hopes.

S: I need to check that out. At any rate, its good to have all the foreigners in the team speaking the same language. So who have your boys got, and since you are on a high after your lucky victory, is this next match going to be a springboard to challenge a certain money-to-burn Cantonese club?

B: We’ve got Jiangsu at home, it should be a pretty easy one. Any other year, I’d be concerned about a let down, but our results have come in streaks, so maybe another run of 3-0 wins is on its way.

S: Ah, again we should have gotten Kenneth in on this Pub Talk. That’s if his new fiance hasn’t banned him from watching games already!

B: The key is to call it a “family outing” and get her involved! I know from experience.

S: Yes. That’s one way to do it.

B: “Let’s spend the day outside, honey, we’ll sit in the sun, enjoy a live event, have a nice meal, it will be a lot of fun.”

S: “Live Event”, that made me chuckle. So what other “Live Events” do you have your beady northern eyes on this weekend?

B: To be honest, there isn’t a lot to get up for. At this point I have an eye to Guangzhou no matter who they play, but even having to go to Dalian shouldn’t be too much for them. I think the biggest clash, especially as we start talking about the Champions League positions, will be Liaoning hosting Shaanxi.

S: Yeah – and aren’t Liaoning doing well this year.

B: Doing well is kind of an understatement. They are sitting in 3rd right now, eight points back from Guangzhou. I can’t see them staying that high, but they could very well finish in the top 5. They are the one side, year in year out, that shocks everyone. Not a whole lot of talent, but they play like a team.

S: It’s great to see different kinds of sides in the Chinese Super League. Teams do have their own characters, don’t they?

B: So is it time to bring this chat to a close?

S: Yeah. I’ve suffered enough looking back on the past week’s Shenhua action. I hope to down a few Tsingdao’s on Saturday night in honour of a good win over Qingdao.

B: This year the Chinese Super League really was kind to Guoan, our away journey to Qingdao lines up perfectly with the Qingdao Beer Festival, can’t wait for that.

S: That is a stroke of good fortune indeed!

B: That will be one fun weekend of debauchery by the beach.

S: I’ve never made it to that beer festival yet. Hope Shenhua can enjoy such a conveniently-scheduled away trip next season.

B: I haven’t either, have been talking about going the past three years, this year is an absolute must. Looking forward to it.

S: Beer, beach and football. What more could one ask for?

B: Cheers to that! Have a good weekend, my man.

S: Cheers B-Dog. Enjoy the match – and I’m sure our Nanjing correspondent will enjoy rooting against Guoan.

B: If he has the time. Advise from someone who knows, stand up early and make her watch football with you, or else you’ll be stuck shopping every weekend with her and her friends or something worse. Best wishes to our man in Nanjing!

S: Here’s to that – happy days all round Kenneth!

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.

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