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Pub Talk: Massive weekend as top four square off

This week, following a few stones being lobbed through the pub windows last week by an Evergrande crowd too afraid to enter, Bcheng and Shanghai Ultra put down their pints to justify their continued slagging of the Cantonese Chaos machine. Both don’t take kindly to their drinking session being interupted by rowdies from down south, however, the pub is open to all. Elsewhere, last weekend’s action is reviewed, frustration for the pair, and this weekend its a top four meltdown as all four play each other – could the CSL race be effectively over this weekend? Already? Objectively speaking, this week’s pub goers hope not. Also in the pub this week – Formula One, the south China rainy season, penalties, the CFA cup and daft rumours about footballers on holiday. Read on – and if you don’t like what you see, get in touch and come gatecrash the one and only PUB TALK!

S: So bad weekend last time round. Evergrande won and the team in second place lost.

B:Wait, wait, wait. I don’t think that’s the way you want to start out or else we’ll face even more criticism about being too partial.

S:Haha. Impartiality in the Pub? That’s a good one.

B:Yeah, certainly in the pub, we’re just supporters and we aren’t going to hide that. If there’s a fan of Evergrande (or any other Chinese club) who wants to join us in the pub, feel free to leave a comment, but until then, it’s going to be slanted.

S:Yeah. Stick it up yer bum.

B:My problem with Evergrande is that we’ve seen this before. Wanda, Jianlibao, Inter Shanghai, they’ve all won or come close to winning a title, dropped millions, and then gotten out of the game. That’s not stability, that’s not good for Chinese football. Further, this whole foreigner rule, even if you’re an Evergrande fan, it’s kind of hard to defend.

S: I don’t disagree with that. But I think at this exact point in time, bringing the likes of Conca to the CSL is a good thing. I have always maintained that foreign players in the CSL have got to be better than Chinese ones, even today in all of the CSL, that isn’t the case. So congrats to Evergrande for raising the bar. But I think the fact they, and only they are allowed two extra foreign player spots in their squad is a total fucking joke and Evergrande deserve every single bit of abuse for that.

B: I would agree, they’ve helped bring better quality foreigners to the league, which overall is a good thing. (Note: If I really wanted to be partial, I’d take a shot at the diving Conca teaching Gao Lin a new level of diving, but I’m not going to take that shot).

S: No that would be a cheap shot. The only cheap shots I have a desire to see in the pub are Jagermeisters.

B: Back to the subject at hand, Evergrande are a machine. I was surprised how they crushed Liaoning, they are for real.

S: Yeah, just to close off those drunken hecklers at the back of the house, the Guoan and Shenhua pub regulars got bored with abusing each other, so turned to slagging Evergrande instead, take it as a compliment lads. And….yes Evergrande are top for a reason, only a bolt from the blue will stop them now.

B: That’s right, it’s at seven points after Guoan failed to get a result against Jiangsu (who are now also seven back). It’s going to be hard to make that up.

S: It looks ominously similar to how the CSL race was last year, a gap was opening up. With Barrios coming in, and their ludicrous deliberate special advantage from the idiotic CFA, I can’t see Evergrande not winning. You mentioned something very interesting earlier during the week, Guoan wont be replacing their Asian player slot, whats going on up there?

B: There are rumours that Guoan will be bringing in two foreigners and letting three go. As it is, for the most part this season, Guoan has chosen to play with two foreigners, giving younger Chinese players a chance to step up.

S: I think that tells us more about Pachecos incompetence in the transfer market than it does about any purposeful desire to give Chinese players priority.

B: I think it’s a little of both. But it’s a good point, Pacheco has apparently been given full control over who comes in and out and so far all of his choices have been weak.

S: That is unfortunate, I think boardroom meddling in transfer policy is a big problem in the CSL. That’s banana league stuff.

B: Well, it happens all over the world and without it, your lot would be without two superstars.

S: Exactly, Zhu Jun knows nothing about which footballers are suitable for Shenhua…. but he’s the “people’s chairman” now, if the Shanghai media is to be believed

B: You can’t be too hard on him with what he’s done… On the subject of Shenhua, they struggled a bit over the weekend, then again last night, though they pulled it out on penalties.

S: True. Drogba and Anelka. And nowhere near the league title.

B: At least you snuck past Shenzhen yesterday or else Drogba would be pretty much playing for nothing.

S: That was fortunate, although Shenhua were the better team. What else happened in the cup during the week that aroused you?

B: Not much, pretty much all went as expected, though Jiangsu’s defeat on penalties is a bit of a shock, especially with how they played against Beijing.

S: At least with the winners getting an ACL spot, we’re guarded against teams not putting out a full strength side. I’m glad the cup is back and I’m looking forward to the next round. So, what about other goings-on during the week, what about that absurd rumour about Drogba?

B: It seems he was heading to Barcelona for a vacation, though it was construed as him potentially pulling out on his deal. Anyways, the quicker he’s in China, the better.

S: As rumours go, it was pure gobshite. I didn’t believe it for a second. I don’t think anyone can bear more twists in that story.

B: I think that’s what puts you off more than anything. Interestingly enough, this second transfer window has been very dull for the most part. Foreign signings have been few and far between and there’ve only been two domestic signings that I know about, one is a Shandong player to R&F, the other is Yan Song joining Shenhua.

S: I didn’t know about Yang Song to be honest, I’ve been out-of-town. There’s time yet for the transfer window though.

B:Yeah, but not a lot of talk, though that’s not unusual. We’ll see what ends up happening, but I’m not expecting too much more.

S: We’ve already had Drogba and Barrios, and yet you’re demanding more. A hard man to please.

B: Good point, but Barrios doesn’t feel like he’s from this window, we’ve known about that for how long? I’m not talking about big signings, and, to be honest, I really don’t care about the foreigners (outside of Drogba). I was thinking we’d see more domestic moves, there was rumours about Shandong losing a number of players and yet nothing’s happened yet.

S: True, Han Peng is still there. It must be hard for a player of his calibre to spend time in the bench when his team are in the relegation zone.

B: Yeah, Shandong’s been doing some weird things this year, no wonder they are struggling.

S: Yes. So whats happening this weekend? Shenhua are on the way to the seaside – Qingdao have been on a mini-run of late. I’m not confident.

B: Come on, I know they’re a tough little team, but a point shouldn’t be out of the question.

S: I mean im not confident of a win. Although we have our new midfielder, Moreno, in the team already. I assume he’s taken Manset’s spot.

B: That’s gotta be a positive change.

S: No shit. No offense to Manset but he just doesn’t have the ability. So I believe there is a certain other big game coming up this weekend?

B: Yeah, Guoan are heading south to take on Evergrande in a very important match.
The Beijing media is saying that if Guoan lose by one or two goals, it will be a success.

S: Getting back to the topic at the top of the talk, we tried to get some Guangzhou represent, but Damian wasn’t able to knock off early and hit the pub today. He did have this to say though

” With regards to Sunday’s heavyweight clash between Guangzhou and Beijing: if it’s pissing down, Beijing may stand a chance, if it’s dry, Beijing could be in for a long night. I felt a bit cheated last season, as our home game against Beijing was played at the beginning on the season when we were just starting to settle into the CSL, while the away game came after a break, allowing Beijing 3 weeks to prepare for us. I’m hoping on Sunday that Guangzhou will go out and rubber-stamp the gulf that currently exists between the two clubs.”

B: I think he’s having a laugh if he thinks there’s a real skills gulf between the two clubs outside of Muriqui and Conca (and Barrios if he plays). However, Evergrande’s on a roll right now and so it’s not going to be easy, but I do think a point is possible. The key to the match will be the opening 45 minutes. If you look at the past few matches, Evergrande’s gotten off to a very slow start. Against Qingdao it was 0-0 at the half, against Jiangsu they were only up by 1, and against Liaoning it was also 0-0. Guangzhou has been able to really step things up and kill any chance the other team may think they had in the second half, but against a team like Guoan, if Beijing can get on the board and Evergrande fail to get up for it until the second half, things could work out for the northerners (and the league).

S: There’s no reason to exclude certain players from the equation, there is a gap after all thing considered. I’m interested to learn more about his wet and dry remarks, has formula one made its way into the pub?

B: I don’t think the gap comes in head-to-head, I think the gap factors in over 30 games, but that’s football, anything can happen on the day. What I think he’s saying is that more than once we’ve seen Evergrande (and R&F) have to deal with extremely inclement weather in Guangzhou that really slows down the match. If those are the conditions, it could be easier for Guoan. I don’t really know why that’s the case as Evergrande seem to play in that kind of weather pretty much every home match, whereas Guoan have yet to experience those conditions.

S: Yeah Shanghai also has this problem, it’s the rainy season right now, although the weather has been extremely bizarre so far in SH, no serious rain yet or high temperatures.

B: There’s an equally big clash this weekend between Jiangsu and R&F. If somehow Beijing loses and that match ends in a draw, Evergrande’s lead will be at nine halfway through the season.

S: So the top four are all playing each other. Exciting stuff. Potentially Evergrande could steam ahead if the other games result goes their way.

B: It’s up to Guoan, but like you, I’m not confident in my team’s chances.

S: I hope Evergrande get beat, but purely in the interests of the CSL remaining competitive, you understand

B: Of course. I fully believe they’ll be the first ever repeat winners of the CSL, but a Guoan win would at least make things a little more interesting as the season goes on

S: I think I’ll be tuning into the game. Is Barrios going to play or are they still fannying about with him?

B: We’ll see, but I’d imagine Lippi’s going to use him. By the way, somewhat breaking news, Guangzhou’s actually SOLD a player. Renato, whose been loaned out and off their books when it comes to counting foreigners, was recently sold for US$2 million (we’ll have more later as to where he’s going, but it’s not in the CSL).

S: That’s interesting. Very bizarre that the sale price is known but not the buyer, as yet.

B: Put that on me. Off the top of my head (and after all these beers), it’s not coming to me. That said, is it time to bring another, fairly impartial pub talk to an end?

S: I think it is. Jolly good luck to Evergrande this weekend.

B: Cheers, and here’s hoping I don’t waste my time staying up for another shite Euro 2012 match tonight. Germany and Italy, us fans in China who’ve managed to stay awake for all these matches deserve one that doesn’t put us back to sleep…

S: Yeah. The tournament died a bit after a great group stage. I’ll stick to no-scoring draws at Hongkou instead. Thank you and good night, one and all.

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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