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Pub Talk: Bienvenida Senor Camacho?

beers lined upIn their regular Pub Talk feature, Bcheng and the Editor discuss the latest happenings in the world of Chinese football. This week, the CFAs choice of new Chinese national team coach irks Bcheng, the Editor tries his best to avoid discussing Shenhua’s dreadful run, and mud football and grass mud horses are on the agenda. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo is bizarrely defended by the Editor, whilst Bcheng reveals his folks back home account for most of ‘s hits. Beijing’s inability to keep the pressure up on Guangzhou, and the shiny and gleaming new-look Pub are the other exciting topics pondered over this week.

Bcheng (Beijing Guoan): So it appears China’s new manager is Jose Antonio Camacho, any thoughts?

Shanghai Ultra (Shanghai Shenhua): Yes – who?

B: Exactly!

S: I know he’s managed big clubs in Spain, and the Spanish national side. But in all honestly, I hadn’t heard of him until the other day

B: Right, I had to look on Wikipedia to figure out who he was. That’s not to say he won’t be a good manager, I think there was so much talk about a “world class” manager that we expected someone who would have a greater track record.

S: So what’s your take on Senor Camacho ?

B: I blame it on the CFA, don’t talk up the process and not deliver. Let’s be honest, he was not in their top 5, probably not in their top 10, and before he even arrives Wei Di is saying he regrets not signing someone else. But again, that has nothing to do with Camacho. He’s going to have a very short time to get the team ready for some very important matches. It’s going to be a hell of a test, but I’ll reserve judgment until September 2nd

S: Really? Hardly a ringing endorsement for Wei Di to say that!

B: I have nothing but bad things to say about Wei, most of them wouldn’t be appropriate for a family site like this. For all his talk about changing the game, he’s no different than Nan Yong or Xie Yalong or any of the guys who came before him.

S: Yes, we can’t have rude words being used on here!

B: I just hope Camacho will be the right man, it’s just that in a more than 10 year career as a manager, he’s had little to show for it. He’s coming in not knowing any of these players, probably never having seen the vast majority (if any) play before, and has 4 big matches in the next 2 months.

S: It’s hard to know what’s gone on behind the scenes, I mean, in terms of who was really their first choice. All I really can say is that, I hope he can get China to the world cup, if they get the right coach, they can get to the world cup. Regardless of whether you believe he can or not. I believe.

B: I was off a bit, but still, by November 15, they will have played 5 of 6 qualifying matches, that’s little more than 3 months from today. Singapore is close to a guaranteed 6 points, Jordan should be at least 4 points and Iraq should be about that too. Like you, I’m not concerned about them getting out of this first group stage, it’s the next one, when they start playing teams like Australia, Japan, and South Korea that I start to worry.

S: Yeah, I mean, if China don’t finish in the top two of their group, they may as well give up. Singapore? Jordan? Iraq? Come on.

B: Iraq was in their group the last time around and they only took 1 point from them in 2 matches.

S: Still, they can finish second surely.

B: Yes, that shouldn’t be a problem, but that’s not the issue, they’d have advanced under Gao too, it’s the round after where things get real serious.

S: Well, Camacho is being appointed at the right time, he has time to assess his troops before serious business begins in the second round of qualifying.

B: True, I wish him luck, hopefully it will turn out he’s the right man for the job and they get into the World Cup. Haha, at that point, watch the more famous managers to start looking at China and for them to dump Camacho for a Scolari type.

S: So, something I saw during the week which pissed me off to be frank. About Ronaldo annoying Chinese fans with his curt answers during a press conference when he was here for Real’s game against, who was it? I forget these meaningless friendlies.

B: They played Guangzhou and Tianjin. So what angers you about it?

S: Well I never, ever thought I see myself defend such an arrogant tosser as Ronaldo. But he was asked all sorts of stupid questions, many nothing to do with football, from Chinese journalists, and he gave short answers to them, and the Chinese media threw their toys out of the pram about it. Did you hear about it?

B: Well…Okay, Christiano Ronaldo has no personality or sense of humor, what a shocker, right? I think the sports media is more used to the NBA players who are far more outgoing and will crack a joke.

S: The thing that annoyed me was something Yan Qiang, vice-president of Titan Media, said “The questions he was asked didn’t have much to do with football. Chinese fans are different from European fans. Chinese are more into the personal lives of their icons”……he’s obviously never read a British tabloid newspaper!

B: A few points here…One is that we as foreigners in China know that Chinese people don’t shy away from asking things that would seem too “personal” overseas, but beyond that…Take a look at the article, while they say “Chinese journalists”, it appears only to be the aforementioned Yan. And the “fans” are people on the internet. There are those on the Chinese internet that would say just about anything.

S: All true, but t’s just a knee-jerk “Chinese are different” statement. We are talking about football! We all love it the same! No need to make more divisions here as well!

B: Slate recently excerpted a book, and at one point the author says “The thing about Chinese people is that they are always telling you what the thing about Chinese people is. For a long time, I made the mistake of trying to pay attention to the specific things themselves.”

S: Right, I can already get a sense for what the Slate article means. Also, a netizen comment “”He should hire a public relations company to teach him how to cope with the media.” The guy is a footballer, plain and simple. PR companies are evil and we don’t need them, especially not in football.

B: As I said, the NBA players tend to have a personality, they tend to joke with the press and are willing to go through the whole dog and pony show the Chinese media is looking for. Maybe Ronaldo really and truly is lacking in personality, maybe he was jet lagged, I don’t know, but if he wants to be loved by everyone in China, he needs to “play the game” a little better. These guys aren’t coming to China for “pre-season training”, they are here to be salesmen, for their clubs, for the brands they sponsor, for themselves. Ronaldo doesn’t seem to want to do that. Hell, I turned on CCTV-5 this morning to see Jason Kidd (who is sponsored by Chinese brand Peak) and Zhao Benshan, with Kidd having to do a number of “Chinese things”.Anything more you have to say on this? can we just agree Ronaldo’s a twat?

S: I think football players are simply players. If they want to market themselves beyond that, fair enough, but fans shouldn’t expect it and certainly have no right to be offended. Ronaldo isn’t a public speaker. Plus, your comparision with the NBA… well that is an American product, players are used to the idea that their performance on the court is just one part of it. With football, its more pure I believe.  But yeah. Ronaldo is a twat for sure.

B: Okay, at least we agree on that. So anything to talk about from last week or should we get right into this weekend?

S: I’m trying to forget what happened last week. Let’s skip straight to this weekend’s games.

B: You aren’t exactly playing a side that will be an easy way to break the streak this weekend.

S: Well, that’s what happens when you get beat by a load of relegation-battling teams, once you’ve had your arse kicked by them, you have to face teams who are actually good. Like Shandong.

B: And it would be just like Shenhua to find a way to beat them.

S: Yes it would, very much so. However, only a fool would predict such an outcome, given their current utterly dire form.

B: And there’s a new manager in charge?

S: Yes aparently its Dražen Besek who was Blazevic’s number 2 last season. Clearly Zhu Jun doesn’t have enough money to bring back old Circo.

B: Right, he’s out of a job, should have just gone for the real deal, Zhu’s really running a cutrate shop these days, what happened, his stocks are crashing?

S: Business is bad by all accounts, the online gaming market isn’t good I hear. Plus, every Shenhua fan I know think’s the guy is an idiot and an egotist and can’t wait for him to sell up. I think Zhu Jun’s days as owner of Shenhua are numbered.

B: Let’s hope not, I’m getting a lot of amusement out of it.

S: Ha. I bet you are. I think you will be able to continue laughing until the end of the season. But you guys’ aren’t looking too pretty, drawing away at Dalian pretty much has rendered the championship race over, and its only August.

B: True, but that’s if you don’t believe the championship race was over last week. It was a disappointing result, but with all the other craziness, we still maintain our position in 2nd place. The focus is most definitely on an ACL spot now.

S: I think the ACL is beyond Shenhua now. On the other hand, Kenneth is surely more and more thrilled by Jiangsu. They continue to burn up the Chinese Super League with their amazing form. If you looked back to when we beat them 3-2 only in May, I think no-one would have predicted that they would over-take us in the league. Our fortunes since then have been polar opposites.

B: Very true, it’s really a surprise how well they are doing, I can’t believe I’m saying it, but of the 3 teams in the area, Jiangsu may finish above both Shenhua and Hangzhou this year. I don’t dare look at our predictions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we both expected them to be in the relegation zone.

S: Yeah these three teams are the only sides in the Yangtze river delta… only a few years ago Shenhua were the only side from here in the Chinese Super League, so its surprising to think that Hangzhou and Jiangsu could finish above them.

B: A sad state of affairs for Shenhua.

S: It most certainly is. So who have you guys got? Give us a mini-preview.

B: We have Nanchang at home, should be an easy match to get back to winning ways considering we beat them away 3-0 and crushed them in the CFA Cup 6-1. We don’t have any real knocks and so it should be a strong XI, I’m thinking we cruise to an easy win and finally earn 3 points, something we haven’t done in a month.

S: Yes – you’ve let down the entire rest of the Chinese Super League with your inability to win against crappy teams.

B: By crappy, you mean the league leaders? Well, they are away to Liaoning this week, will the leaders luck come to an end in Shenyang?

S: Haha yes. I think Guangzhou will win in Liaoning, seeing as they have lost their last two games. Liaoning never seem to be able to amount a sustained title challenge, this year, its no different for them.

B: They are going through their own little slide the past few weeks and I agree, I don’t see them having what it takes to defeat Guangzhou. The 3rd ACL spot is really up for grabs, but nobody seems to want it, Liaoning and Shandong both continue to struggle.

S: Yeah its extremely tight in the middle of the table. It’s going to be an exciting finish to see who gets the 2nd and 3rd ACL spots. Although I’d say you guys are probably good for one already.

B: Yeah, we don’t have it wrapped up yet, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet.

S: So. The Pub is looking rather spiffy this week, isnt it? A new lick of paint, etc

B: Yeah, most definitely. I’m liking it. Also, a lot of diverse content, the national team, mud football, the grass-roots game, not to pat ourselves on the back too much but if there’s a soccer story out there, we probably have it.

S: Yeah, the team has gone into over drive this week. As you’ve said, we’ve got mud football, grass football – maybe we can send a grass mud horse to the CFA?

B: Straight to Wei Di’s desk would be fine with me!!! Cheers to that, I’m going to down this pint for that one!

S: Hahaha. Well, still waiting on our loyal band of readers to pass comment on the re-design, seem’s they’ve fallen asleep at the back of the house.

B: I’ll have to go and have a talk with my parents who probably make up 75% of my readership!

S: Hits are increasing these days – seems they are doing a great job spreading the good word!

B: Nah, I just come from a large family!

S: Is that so? Mr and Mrs Bcheng must be very proud

B: Alright, time for me to stop, I’m about to down another pint and if I keep this up, I’m going to have to go out in the street and loot me’self something. Hope things are more under wraps up in the northern parts of the UK.

S: Yeah. We can handle our drink. Unlike that lot south of the border rioting everywhere after a few shandies.

B: And with that, cheers mate, have a good one!

S: Cheers B-dog. Good weekend.

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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