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North Terrace Preview: Shanghai Shenhua v Guizhou Renhe

‘s fan’s-eye Shenhua preview returns at an awkward time for the Hongkou side, as the boys in blue sit in a shambolic state ahead of the visit of an in-form Guizhou Renhe.

Last Time Out

While Guizhou continued their run of form and charge up the table with a strong 3-0 home win over a falterning Guanzhou R&F side, Shenhua’s goal-less travails continued with a 1-0 defeat at Henan Jianye.

While there’s no masking this as another disappointing result in a desperately poor run of form, Shenhua did show some signs of life and forward movement in the game, and might consider themselves a little unlucky that some sharp forward play resulted in no more reward than a terribly-fluffed chance and the underside of the crossbar.

Causes for Optimism…

Erm… anyone have any ideas for filling this space? One of football’s beauties lies in its glorious unpredictability, and perhaps the players will feel they have something to prove in front of their Dear Leader in the director’s box and the latest conveyor-belt manager poised to take over?

… and for Concern

7 goals from 11 games. No home goals at Hongkou for over two months. Still, it could be worse… it’s not as if Griffiths is still out injured and Anelka will be doing his strolling around in the director’s box rather than centre-circle due to a suspension, is it? Oh.

Shenhua followers can at least rest assured that, in the absence of any senior forwards, their season ticket will at least give them the consolation of an hour-long live comedy performance from hurly-burlesque’s Mathieu Manset.

Anelka’s absence means that he can focus on just one of his bargain-of-the-century “two jobs for the price of one” — that’s right kids, for 200 grand sterling a week you too could have both a lazy has-been player ambling around the centre-circle to pick up the ball from players he doesn’t trust to do anything with it, and ALSO an unqualified coach with neither any form of experience nor a language in common with his squad. Grab YOUR Nic Anelka while stocks last.

North Terrace Preview is trying to avoid adding the latest lengthy chapter to the “is the problem Shenhua’s management or Anelka?” debate — in short, nobody is coming out of this mess looking particularly clever. What can be said is that Shenhua retain the core of a very able young squad for this level — but it’s a squad which has been hit by a number of short-termist changes of coach and ill-considered foreign recruits, leaving a side palpably short of both on-field leadership and any kind of strategy or vision for how the side intends to create or score goals.

Shorn of motivation and tactics, this could be a long and drawn-out season for the youngsters, and one in which salvation might not come easily.

Watch Out For

Guizhou will presumably come out of the blocks scenting blood — this game will provide a stern test for the improved 2012 versions of both Wang Dalei and Dai Lin, who will be crucial if Shenhua are to get anything out of this Sunday’s fixture.

The Verdict

It’s very difficult to see anything other than an away win here, and hard to see what Shenhua can create from open play with a midfield low on confidence and forward line low on, well, footballers. If they can keep it tight and nick one from their rediscovered set-piece ability, a draw isn’t out of the question for Shenhua — North Terrace Preview is glumly expecting a 2-0 home defeat, and those relegation worries to loom over the upcoming transfer window and break.

Steve hosts the Chinese Football Podcast, having joined the WEF team as correspondent for Shanghai Shenhua, the side he has followed since moving to Shanghai in 2010.

Exiled from the Victorian town-centre idyll of Feethams along with his childhood football team, Steve can now be found enjoying/enduring matchdays on Hongkou’s North Terrace along with the rest of the infamous Shenhua Element Crew.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Arxtor

    27/05/2012 at 09:17

    “Has been player ” is a bit harsh… Let’s not forget that he is still the most awarded player that played in China. And even if his season is not the best so far (but it’s not entirely his fault) there is a lot to be learned from him instead of judging him.
    And on the fact that he said what he thaught in interview ; first I think it is better to say what you have on your mind honestly and openelly even if it is not nice to everyone ; instead of hiding everything and then fire or isolate or whatever creepy move chinese love to do. Secondly , let’s be honnest; he is right; the team is young and unexperienced and all foreigners know that chines management loves to keep its foreign employees out of the loop in any occasion they have.

    • Yiddo Huayi

      27/05/2012 at 11:17

      Still, at 200k GBP per week…

      • Arxtor

        27/05/2012 at 13:34

        Shenhua made the offer…. they wish to show the world they have a lot of money ; so be it. We all know that Anelka is not worth that much ; even him knows it but how could he refused… but still it is the price they paid for; and a price never increased the performance of anything or anyone.
        And to be fair, it is a fact that if they recrute a “star” manager , it will cost them even more ; whereas for the moment they signed Anelka as a player and make him work two jobs… only in China you can see that.

        • Steve

          28/05/2012 at 07:59

          Let’s leave the closet xenophobia to one side, shall we?

          Managers come far cheaper than players, and the fact remains that Anelka is completely unqualified & unsuitable for management, so much so that the club are actively recruiting a new coach. The “two jobs for one wage” argument is a complete non-starter.

          Being a Yorkshireman, I’m generally in favour of speaking one’s mind wherever possible. There’s a crucial distinction in that Anelka interview, however — while slagging off your employer is just about on the borderline of what’s acceptable, it’s fair enough that the guy wants to blow off some steam, and there are undoubtedly off-field shenanigans going on.

          What is NOT acceptable however, is to publicly criticise your team-mates. Particularly when you’re supposed to be a senior squad member. Particularly when you’re supposed to be the manager. And particularly when you’ve demonstrated fuck-all effort yourself over the season so far. That’s the biggest thing that riles me with Anelka — this superiority complex which just isn’t backed up by anything he’s shown in Shenhua colours so far.

          Worth noting that the team played better without him last night — it’s remarkable what having a center-forward who actually stays in the center-forward position can do for a team’s shape.

          • WEF Editor

            28/05/2012 at 09:00

            All I really want to say is that what Anelka said about his team-mates was purely factual and I don’t think any of them would have taken it that personally. Except Cao Yunding perhaps who is possibly the most creative player in the CSL, and he answered any issues about his play last night by coming off the bench to score the winning goal for the second time this season. Lets hope Batista and Drogba can counter-balance Anelka at the club and get us back on an even keel.

          • Arxtor

            28/05/2012 at 12:44

            It is a fact that the team won last night and what a good news!!! Finally!!!
            But the reasons for that win could be anything ; could even be that the players being angry at Anelka and wanted to show hime that they can do it despite what he said in the news…. in this case, Anelka was right to say what he said.
            But let’s not argue on how or why ; we won last night and if feels good.

          • Steve

            28/05/2012 at 13:49

            Indeed, couldn’t agree more — good win in a good game, almost forgotten what those feel like!

    • bcheng

      27/05/2012 at 17:05

      I don’t think it’s all that harsh, if you’ve seen him on the pitch this year, that’s exactly what he looks like, a has been. He can blame it on what’s around him all he wants, but he should be looking at the man in the mirror for the real culprit of why Shenhua is struggling, it’s not like he’s been completely lacking in opportunities, Cao Yunding has seen to it that he gets chances, Anelka just hasn’t had it.

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