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Season 2011 predictions: how did we do?

With the year rapidly running out, there’s just enough time to cast one last look back over Chinese Super League 2011 and see how ‘s semi-serious pre-season predictions matched up to the Chinese Super League final placings. At the start of the year, Shanghai Ultra rather brashly made a precise place-by-place forecast of where each team would finish. Unfortunately, his most accurate prediction turned out to be that he would be wiping egg from his face at the end of the year. Bcheng was not so foolhardy and made a more general (read: vague) set of predictions.  All told, it would appear the crystal ball will require some polishing for next year – but here is how both correspondent’s forecasts stack up with how the Chinese Super League actually finished this season.

1st  Guangzhou Evergrande

In hindsight not the most difficult prediction to get right, but both of your correspondents got it wrong. Shanghai Ultra had Guangzhou to finish runners-up, and Bcheng tipped them to be a contender but ultimately fall short of the championship.

2nd – Beijing Guo’an  

Shanghai Ultra perhaps allowed his Shenhua bias to creep in here – he predicted the men in green would finish 6th. No such excuses for Bcheng, who incorrectly tipped his own side merely to be Asian Champions League contenders.

3rd – Liaoning Whowin

No-one can really be blamed for failing to predict this outcome – Liaoning were 2011’s over-achievers – indeed Ma Lin was voted the Chinese Super League’s manager of the year, as well as being similarly awarded by . Shanghai Ultra had Liaoning down as finishing 12th, and Bcheng predicted mid-table mediocrity for the north eastern side.

4th – Jiangsu Sainty

Another team whoose 2011 season exceeded everyone’s expections, including their own, recording their highest-ever Chinese Super League finish. Shanghai Ultra predicted 11th for Sainty, Bcheng made a similar prediction of a mid-table finish for the Nanjing side.

5th  Shandong Luneng

Both Shanghai Ultra and Bcheng predicted Shandong would be this year’s champions. How wrong they were. A poor season by their own standards, Shandong will be hoping for a much better year in 2012.

6th – Qingdao Jonoon  

Again a prediction-busting finish by Qingdao, who like Jiangsu, had one of their most successful Chinese Super League seasons ever. Bcheng tipped the men from the seaside to get relegated, as did Shanghai Ultra who predicted a basement 16th place finish.

7th – Changchun Yatai  

Changchun had a better season than expected – Shanghai Ultra reckoned they would finish 13th, Bcheng just about called this one right, predicting they would finish not far outside the ACL qualifiying zone.

8th – Hangzhou Greentown   

The Zhejiang province team flattered to deceive this year and didn’t live up their billing – Bcheng predicted they would be title contenders, Shanghai Ultra had them not far behind, finishing in 5th.

9th  – Shaanxi Chanba   

Shanghai Ultra was just one place off with this one, predicting 8th for the northwest wolves, on the basis that Shaanxi always seem to finish mid-table no matter what, Bcheng made a similar prediction, tipping them to push for an ACL place.

10th –  Tianjin Teda  

A prediction of 3rd place was made by Shanghai Ultra for Tianjin, similarly Bcheng predicted they would be title contenders. Both of your correspondent’s were pretty far off the mark with this one – a poor year for the northern side.

11th –  Shanghai Shenhua

Another outcome which no-one predicted as the men from Hongkou endured a torrid season. Shanghai Ultra had Shenhua down to finish 4th and Bcheng tipped them to be ACL place contenders.

12th – Dalian Shide   

Another very unimpressive season for Dalian. Shanghai Ultra had them in 7th, Bcheng similarly predicted them to be not far outside the ACL qualification zone. But in reality, Dalian flirted with relegation towards the end of the year before reaching a safe position with just a couple of games left.

13th  –  Henan Construction 

Shanghai Ultra had Henan to finish 10th, so not a million miles away, whilst Bcheng made a similar prediction tipping them to do not too badly but ultimately fall short of an ACL place.

14th – Nanchang Hengyuan  

It seems that your team only really had much forecasting success at the bottom end of the table. Nanchang finished just one place above Shanghai Ultra’s prediction of 15th for them – Bcheng also called this one more or less right, tipping them to only narrowly avoid relegation.

15th – Chengdu Blades

Bcheng got this one right – he foretold that Chengdu would go straight back down again. Shanghai Ultra wasn’t far off either – predicting them to finish one place above the relegation zone in 14th.

16th –   Shenzhen Ruby

Neither of your correspondents predicted a brilliant year for Shenzhen, but its unlikely anyone expected Phillippe Troussier to lead the 2004 Chinese Super League champions down to the China League. Shanghai Ultra predicted 9th, Bcheng an upper-mid table finish.

So there you have it. Obviously these predictions we made were a light-hearted affair, had they been more accurate we would of course pretended we meant it. But the final placings of Jiangsu, Qingdao, Shenhua and perhaps Shenzhen were all rather “out there” for want of a better term and turned some of the Chinese Super League on its head come the end of the season.

With all the new investments and exciting signings coming into the league, next year will be ever harder to predict.

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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