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Pub Talk: The shocking stupidity of Shenhua

beers lined up

A rather gloomy Pub Talk this week, at least for the editor, who’s spluttering out his beer after yet another bad day at the office for Shenhua and conducts a character assasination of club owner Zhu Jun. Things are different for Bcheng though, who looks forward to away trip to seaside town Qingdao – conveniently coinciding with the city’s annual beer festival. Also on the agenda is an unspeakably evil plan to relocate Shenhua, Gao Lin’s ridiculous play-acting, some more odd disciplinary decisions from the CFA, and China’s new youth coach. Meanwhile, the duo, particularly the editor,  both use some rather industrial language in the pub this week, if you are offended by expletives, or were under the impression that the drinkers in the Pub Talk are respectable chaps who engage only in civilized discussion, please proceed with caution.

Bcheng (Beijing Guoan): A lot to talk about today in the pub, what with two rounds having been played since we last met, and the controversy from the Guangzhou-Liaoning match. So what do you want to start with?

Shanghai Ultra (Shanghai Shenhua):Let’s get Shenhua’s ineptitude out of the way first. I watched their match v Shandong, at least most of it before I had to head out. Shenhua didn’t even have a recognized striker up front, Salmeron was injured. So it was no surprise we got beat.

B: It’s disappointing to see how far Shenhua have fallen, it seems like the loss to Beijing really started a downward spiral.

S: It started before that with an embarassing loss to Nanchang at home, which by all accounts was a very unlucky defeat. Our defeat to you guys at Gongti, well I can’t say Shenhua deserved to win, but 3-0 flattered Beijing big time, since then, Shenhua have definately been very unlucky in certain games. But… you can’t go eight games without having won, or rather, take only one point from eight games, and blame it on luck. Being a good team is about dealing with the knocks or bad breaks which happen to every team, and Shenhua don’t have the winning or fighting mentality to deal with it.

B: Yes, that’s been the problem with Beijing as well, fortunately we’ve been slightly stronger and haven’t had the same amount of bad luck, but we can’t push past and get a win in tight games, which Guangzhou constantly seems to find a way to do. It’s interesting that the past two matches have shown all that is right and wrong with our clubs. Guangzhou does whatever they need to do to get points, they have confidence and fight through it all. Beijing does just what it needs to get by, but doesn’t have the mental strength. And Shenhua just crack and haven’t been able to pick themselves up from their doldrums.

S: The real problem at Shenhua is the squad. Its so threadbare its a joke. Imagine not even having a proper striker in your line-up, or constantly playing midfielders in defence. And this all after Zhu Jun sold off players such as Gao Lin who is now bangiing them in for Guangzhou, the best team in the league by a country mile. And who did he replace Gao Lin with? Riascos? He was only ever a season-long replacement. Look what has happened since he left. Shenhua have bombed.

B: Yes, you’re front line is definitely weak, no depth and nobody who really strikes fear into opponents.

S: Not only that, but its becoming clear there are rifts in the squad. Dai Lin is hated by a section of the Shenhua fans, after he took umbrage to a group of supporters who hecked him when he was getting onto the team bus. Umbrage is a bit of a euphemisum – he infact assaulted the fan. It’s said that Dai Lin and goalkeeper Wang Dalei are the favourites of owner Zhu Jun. There must be some reason Dai Lin is captain and not Yu Tao, Dai Lin has been with Shenhua for only two seasons and is immature and has the wrong temprement to be captain. Yu Tao is Shenhua’s longest serving player and a steadying influence, yet he is no longer captain.

B: : I don’t know what to say, top management involved in team decisions wouldn’t be unusual in the Chinese Super League. I’m just worried that if Yang Zhi returns home (to Guangzhou), we’ll end up with Wang Dalei as our keeper.

S: There isn’t much to say other than individuals are putting their own interests before that of the club. And in another example of this, I read news which shocked me to the core – Shenhua will move to Wuhu in Anhui province to play their CFA cup games this season, and possibly move their permanently next season if the CFA cup games go well.

B: I’m just as shocked by that, if it goes through, it would be a real tragedy. I can’t imagine what they mean by “goes well”, since it’s a one-off kind of thing, I’m sure they’ll get a decent crowd. It would be a travesty not to have a team in China’s top flight based in Shanghai. It seems the rumors are pointing toward Shenhua heading in that direction, at least for next season. Hefei doesn’t have a side, maybe they think they can draw a crowd from there too, but I can’t see this earning them more money because they’ll have to lower the prices and they will certainly lose a large portion of their fan base.

S: Anhui had a China League (second division) team last year and it folded. So i dont know how the fuck they think they can get a crowd in fact, I dont understand how anyone can think Shenhua can get a bigger crowd outside of Shanghai. This is bonkers, even by Chinese Super League’s astronomically stupid standards. Knowing what China is like, the local authority at Wuhu will probably pay a load of shanzhai fans to pack the stadium out for the CFA cup game and say “oh, look how many people come to watch Shenhua in Wuhu, let us have Shenhua play here permanently next year”. Then they will soon stop turning up when they realise the team is just a plaything of that selfish egotist Zhu Jun who ripped it of its best players and now isn’t putting any money into it. Zhu Jun is a fucking stupid cunt, an egotistical fuckwit who should just fuck off and leave football.

B: This pub chat is definitely not family friendly, but fuck it, we’re in a pub. I completely agree, as much as I hate Shenhua, I hate them because they are Shanghai, period. Not Wuhu. This has to be some sick joke, except its true, I just have to believe in the end, smarter heads will prevail, the CFA should step in and not allow this to happen. It’s fucking Shanghai we’re talking about here.

S: I’m very sorry to anyone reading who was offended by my foul-mouthed outburst. I’m just absolutely outraged. It’s bad enough moving the team to a city hundreds of kilometeres away for Shenhua cup games, that they are considering moving the team there permanently is nothing short of criminal. If it goes ahead, it will surely be the most ridiculous thing ever to happen in Chinese football, and that, as we all know, is really saying something.

B: Your anger is understandable, I promise we’ll join in and support you in yelling at Zhu Jun and the Shenhua players on November 2nd.

S: I can only marvel at Zhu Jun. He found a way to become even more of a figure of utter hate and derision for Shenhua fans than he already was.

B: I wonder after the home fans attacked the home bus last night, if Zhu Jun isn’t thinking he and his players might be safer outside of Shanghai.

S: Zhu Jun deserves it, he’s a fuckwit.

B: Agreed. As much as I hate Shenhua, this is downright disgraceful, I could not imagine them playing outside of Shanghai.

S: I mean, Zhu Jun – what kind of idiot forces his coach to name him in a friendly against Liverpool? The guy is a fucking stupid egotistical wanker.

B: It’s confusing what the hell he’s thinking, seriously this makes zero sense.

B: Even just moving there for the CFA cup is wrong wrong wrong.

S: Is there any reasoning at all given for the move?

B: If it was only the CFA Cup, it wouldn’t be so bad, but moving for a season?!?!?!? God….I couldn’t imagine if Guoan said fuck it, let’s just go play our games in Hubei.

S: The only bright side i can think of is if this is some kind of indirect message to shenhua fans to get off their asses and support the club more and stop criticizing the team. That would seem to a Chinese way to do it.

B: It could be, teams in the US have used this kind of threat before, but typically it’s to get themselves a new stadium, not just to get fans to go to matches.

S: Well thats the irony, if Shenhua left Shanghai, no-doubt someone would start a new team and start using Hongkou. So its just a big waste of time for everyone

B: I would hope so…or at least one of the lower level teams would move to Hongkou.

S: Only in the Chinese Super League could you have a team move from a purpose built football specific stadium in its biggest and most populous city, to some random countryside town in Anhui, because they had issues with the local fans.

B: Well, I can tell you things are going much better up north. Though we managed two very average performances against two very bad sides, we have 6 points to show for it and have all but locked up an Asian Champions League position.

S: Yes, time to move on from Shenhua for the sake of my own mental health. So I saw the highlights against Chengdu, a comprehensive victory and an exciting game it seemed. Right?

B: Beijing played a terrible first half, but made up for it in the second, if Zhang Xizhe could shoot, he’d have 5 goals in the last two matches.

S: At least you guys are managing to stay in second place. So who have you got this weekend?

B: Yeah, as I said, I think we’ve all but wrapped up an ACL position at this point. This weekend its fun, sun, and beer fest in Qingdao for us.

S: Sigh…our fortunes continue to contrast in so many ways.

B: Yes, who do you guys have?

S: We are away to Tianjin. I’d say its a fair bet that is gonna be another 3 points burned away.

B: That’s a tough match, yeah, I’d expect your losing streak to continue.

S: Yes. But if you would allow me to indulge in wild fantasy for just a moment, Tianjin are only three points ahead of Shenhua, so, Shenhua somehow managed to w— oh. Please splash some cold water in my face to wake me up.

B: Tianjin’s had their own bit of fall, just not as hard as Shenhua. And at the same time, big ups to Kenneth’s Jiangsu, yet another win, this time taking down Shandong, too bad this didn’t start earlier or they’d be in the ACL race. If they can get to number four they might have a shot if Guoan or Shandong can win the cup.

S: Yeah fair play to Jiangsu. Incidentally, THAT game was the last time Shenhua won at home – over TWO MONTHS ago. Talk about a reversal of fortune.

B: Most definitely. So to me at this point, all that’s left to play for is one ACL spot. Guangzhou are champions, Beijing have one ACL spot, and Chengdu and Nanchang are going down. It all seems pretty much over to me.

S: You are being rather gracious towards Shenhua. The Shanghai football media are slaughtering Shenhua, the talk is that they are now in the real relegation zone.

B: My mistake just now, Chengdu and Shenzhen are going down. I’m sorry, you have got to be kidding me, Shanghai in the relegation zone? They are 11 points away with 10 games left, that’s a massive stretch.

S: If they keep losing, that gap will get smaller.

B: You have games against Nanchang and Chengdu left, as well, a win in just one and you’ll be safe. With that said, you also have to play Guangzhou twice! So much for the hope you guys could beat them.

S: Right now Shenhua are at possibly their lowest ebb ever. I was going to say, they still have a team capable of beating anyone in the Chinese Super League, but, the strength and depth just isnt there, with Riascos gone, they have been laid bare. You can see just how much Riascos and Feng Renliang contributed to last season. Now Duvier’s left, and Feng has zero confidence, the entire team has gone to the dogs. Bizarrely, a Shenhua player still tops the scoring charts – Salmeron with 10 goals.

B: But for Shenhua to stay out of the relegation zone, they don’t have to do much, Chengdu has won 2 matches out of 20, Shenzhen 3 (one of course against Shenhua), it’s not like either of those sides are going to mount winning streaks in these last few months.

S: Well let us hope not. What a depressing pub talk this week!

B: Hey, I’m just thinking about Qingdao, beer, birds, beach, and football, what could be better?!

S: That is a good point. It’s pissing down in Shanghai… did you see this ? “Dutchman Jan Olde Riekerink was appointed head coach of China’s Under-19 national team when he signed a five-year contract with the Chinese Football Association (CFA) in Beijing on Wednesday.”

B: Yes I did, no idea who he is, but hope he’s good at developing young players.

S: Indeed – and he has limited resources to work with in terms of numbers of youngers even playing the sport in China these days. Speaking of which, what do you think of our new contributor’s first article.

B: It was excellent, I hope we can find out more about the grassroots game. I’ve talked a lot about how there is no development at the youngest level, but I’m starting to find out that’s not entirely true, the country is taking steps in the right direction in some places and on a very small scale.

S: Yes, I think this is really the root of Chinese football’s problems, I’m looking forward to learning more about this and I’m sure our readers are too, not to mention the rest of planet football, who are no doubt curious to know the answer to the old why can’t a nation of 1.3 billion find 11 decent players riddle.

B: We haven’t even gotten to the question of Chinese Super League punishments, but after downing a few celebratory baijiu shots last night, these pints are putting me under the table, is it time to close down the pub?

S: I think so. Although we can briefly touch on Muriqui – I saw the online highlights of Guangzhou’s victory in the Guangdong derby – their fans have a huge banner pleading Muriqui to stay.

B: It looks like he’s made his decision, but I think the suspension is a bit of an excuse. Come on, the reality of the Chinese Super League’ convuluted policy is that it’s only 3 games.

S: You point in your recent post that foreigners seem to be made scapegoats is well founded. I think Gao Lin’s behaviour in that game was much worse, having a go at the linesman like that, especially considering video evidence shows the linesman correctly ruled an earlier goal offside.

B: I agree. I think I’m more aware because of the long suspensions for Guoan’s manager and for Joel Griffiths, there have been Chinese players who have gotten multiple game suspensions, but I just think the Chinese suspension policy differs considerably to other leagues and I don’t know how much they make foreign players aware of that. Plus, in this case at least, it seems entirely plausible that Gao wasn’t suspended so that he could be seen by the new national team manager. That is insane!

S: It’s quite feasible that is the case – something that could only happen in the Chinese Super League….

B: Anyways, Gao’s a wanker, cannot stand him, and if you need to see why, watch this:

S: Yes, about Gao’s non-suspension, thats a good example of how there is no division of powers in China – the league and national team are all run by the same people, so they can do things like not suspend certain players for their league sides, to benefit the national team. It would never happen in a country where football is run properly. As for that clip, saw that too. Absolutely pathetic. He deserves to be punished for that. Although I’m glad he got booked for it.

B: Where football is run based on FIFA’s own actual laws you mean? I am glad to hear Gao got booked for that, as well he should!

S: Well, FIFA can’t even follow its own laws, so perhaps we shouldn’t expect too much, further down the footballing heirarchy.

B: Very true, man, I wasn’t depressed at first, but now that we’ve gotten to this topic, I’m starting to be down…It’s time to end this asap or else one of us is going to jump out the window.

S: Yeah man. I think its time to down these last pints. Have fun on the beach this weekend – be careful though, the beach at Qingdao is covered in horrible green algae.

B: I hear ya, have a good one, at least Shenhua is away, less punishment. Cheers!

S: Yes – Qingdao’s Pijjiu Jie is worth a visit – its a fun town, beach issue aside.

B: There will be plenty of pints downed for sure.

S: I would be shocked and appalled if that were not the case. Have a good one mate.

B: Thanks, you too, I’d highly advise against watching Shenhua if you want to enjoy the weekend!

S: I will try to avoid turning on my television. Cheers!

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.



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