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Pub Talk: Conca’s Cantonese surprise

It’s baking hot this week in much of China and temperatures will rise even further this weekend as another Yangtze Delta Derby looms in Nanjing, so the drinkers cool off in the pub and chew over several events. Your correspondents wonder what Conca has been chewing on to make him “sick” in China – his transfer request is digested by . Super Anelka exclusives are alluded to – a rumpus by the beach, and seems no-one in the media anywhere understands the transfer rules. The pair reflect on the death of the CSL championship race last week, but look forward to an old rivalry next week – Jing-Hu Da Zhan alert! Shandong’s pain, cats, green glasses and oblique British humour are all jostling for position this week in PUB TALK. Read on, dear readers.

S: Good evening B. How’s it going in Beijing?

B: It’s hot! Thankfully not quite as bad as down south.

S: I’m sweating like a blind lesbian at a fish market. 39c and rising, Shanghai humidity in the mix also.

B: I’m confused, but okay, hahaha, on to the footy before things get really confusing?

S: I think the heat is making me delirious. Lots of nonsense all around this week it seems.

B: The transfer market has picked up a bit, Beijing, Shanghai, and Evergrande all have filled their two foreign spots, though it doesn’t stop the insane rumors.

S: Yeah. It’s ridiculous, everyone knows that you can only sign two foreign players in the transfer window… but…..

B: But not everyone knows, or bothers to do the research. So of your new signings, one is still not in Shanghai while the other didn’t look all that impressive against Qingdao.

S: I think Anelka has actually been playing better than normal recently. But, it was a shocking result last week.

B: That didn’t stop him from being screamed at by a fan.

S: Yeah because he didn’t bow. I wonder where that story came from?

B: haha, you’re a hard-working man, my friend.

S: I can understand Anelka not bowing in front of the fans with the rest of the team to an extent… but he is the captain.

B: Right, we’ve had a bit of an issue in Beijing with this, but I can understand the anger targeted at Anelka because it appears he’s one of the only ones not doing it, plus he’s the captain.

S: When in Rome man. I’m still reluctant to get on Anelka’s back. But he doesn’t try hard on the pitch and appears to saunter around.

B: Yeah, I can see how that all contributes to the dislike.

S: The fans are definitely split on him. For the most part the jury is still out. Drogba coming will effectively be like signing two players, he will re-activate Anelka I think.

B: That’s what you have to hope.

S: Anyway Anelka isn’t playing this weekend. apparently there has been a medical emergency in his family, at least someone who he is close to in Shanghai, according to the paper.

B: It’s a big match for him to be missing. Is Griffiths still out? Could be a long night in Nanjing.

S: I don’t hold much hope for the weekend. Griffiths I think is still out. On an amusing note, a certain high-ranking Lanmo said on his weibo that, if Shenhua beat Jiangsu and Beijing, he’d pay to take the crew to a knocking shop for a night.

B: I can’t see that individual having to pay out.

S: No, that’s probably why he made the pledge.

B: Jiangsu is on a roll right now, having beaten Guoan at Gongti, then returning home to beat R&F (of course that’s forgetting their cup penalty defeat).

S: Jiangsu have pretty much been on a roll all season, minus a few bumps…. Shenhua don’t look too clever. If Anelka isn’t available, then I’ve no idea who is going to play up front.

B: We thought things would be tough against Guizhou with the same problem, but somehow your lot found a way to win, maybe they need the adversity and the lack of the big foreign star to bring them together.

S: They have been pretty consistent. As for Shenhua, Moreno looks good, Anelka has been doing better, the Qingdao game was a big surprise to be honest. For this weekends game v Jiangsu, I’m making the trip up there for a Yangtze Delta Derby.

B: Did Moreno look good in the first half against Qingdao? Granted it was his first game with his teammates, but from what I saw in the second half, it wasn’t anything to write home about. Away trips are always fun, hopefully it will be a safe one.

S: He was pretty solid, as good as you could look alongside a seriously mid-firing team.

B: True, nobody impressed, except for Jiang Kun running his mouth impressively.

S: Anyways, Shenhua are a pretty sorry shower so far this year. What’s on Beijing’s radar?

B: Last weekend was a tough loss to take, away at Evergrande. It’s now a 10 point gap between Guoan and last year’s champs.

S: Yeah and the “second best team in the league” according to you are now 4th.

B: I think its obvious that it’s only temporary. They are one point behind Guizhou, three behind Jiangsu. Only R&F, Guizhou and us have gone to Tianhe and gave them a solid fight this season.

S: Obvious? You really are very biased

B: Haha, okay, maybe that came off a little strong. I can see Guoan struggling the next 2-3 weeks, but I think in the end, Beijing will finish in the top three.

S: That’s reasonable to say, but to say Guoan are obviously the second best team in the league is green-glasses stuff. The reality is there isn’t much difference in the chasing pack behind GZ

B: That’s true, well….Any argument I can offer can be countered easily by a non-Guoan fan, so I’ll leave it at that. R&F come to town this weekend, it’s going to be another tough game, Guoan could be pushed even further down the table with a loss in this one.

S: It’s really a pity that talk of the top part of the table looks pretty academic now. There’s always the two other ACL spots to fight over I suppose.

B: I think the ACL battle is going to be very exciting, but yes, I can’t see Evergrande falling off, especially with Barrios and their foreigner advantage. I think we may be looking at the CSL’s first ever repeat winner.

S: The best thing about the CSL is that its very competitive… can we turn Evergrande winning the league two years in a row as a bad thing and therefore an excuse to bash them again?

B: I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, they are the dominant team another year running. I think they’ve only lost two matches and drew two matches in 15, that’s a very impressive record. I have no problem with them being good (okay, great), nor do I have a problem with them spending money. I just want to know that there will be a team called Guangzhou Evergrande in 10 years and I don’t see that being the case, THAT is my problem with them. Plus, Conca’s a diving cunt. Can I say that in pub talk?

C: I think it’s perfectly acceptable. Speaking of Conca, he’s put in a transfer request. What is the Bcheng reaction?

B: I don’t know, from all his talking recently about building Chinese football, it comes as a surprise, but at the same time, I’m not surprised he wants out, even though the money is so good. At the same time, was equally surprising to see Muriqui double down and extend his contract.

S: Yes, its such a remarkable contrast. For Conca, I’m quite surprised he has put in this transfer request. He had his issues, but those seemed to be with Lee Jiangsoo. I thought Lippi would stabilize things, but reading between the lines I think Conca is probably unhappy off the pitch and there’s not much Lippi can do about that. Then again, Muriqui is a very interesting case in point, he’s gone from wanting to leave last season for receiving a harsh CFA suspension, to signing a four year contract. That is very very surprising to me. So GZ fans must be hoping Conca can be persuaded to stay. He’s certainly been a big success on the pitch unlike other individuals who need not be named. Again, I’m surprised, seeing images of Conca on the pitch with his kids doesn’t seem like someone who was thinking of leaving. GZ must be pretty pissed off, they get a rule change to get more foreigners in, then Conca says he wants to leave just as GZ can’t sign anymore foreign players this transfer window.

B: I don’t think Muriqui was ever very serious about leaving, that was only an issue for a week or two.

S: Yeah I’d agree. Conca says something in China made him sick, what do you think it was? They do eat some very strange things down there in Canto-land.

B: I just think he’s been here for a while, it’s been fun, he’s won a title, made some cash, but now he’s looking to go home. I’d be surprised if he moves in this window, Guangzhou wouldn’t be able to fill his spot (unless a rules change is made), but I definitely expect to see him go once the season ends. I don’t think Guangzhou can afford to lose him now.

S: “I passed a Pangolin – backwards” – Conca. I dont’ want to put you off your pint, but any guesses as to what made Conca sick?

B: Cat

S: Yeah when the Cantonese said to him “do you like to eat pussy?” what happened next probably wasn’t what he had in mind.

B: Haha, I wouldn’t be surprised.

S: One can only imagine. Maybe however, once he’s finished coughing up whiskers and furballs, he might not play so well for Guangzhou? Do they really need him?

B: Right now I’d say they do, just because I don’t know what Barrios is going to be like. Conca is their creative flair in the midfield and he’s critical for connecting with the strikers.

S: He’s definitely their key player. So, changing track a bit, we are officially exactly at the half way stage in the CSL campaign this year. Generally speaking, what are your thoughts and observations?

B: It’s been a great first half of the season. I wish there’d be a team a little closer to the league leaders, but everyone else is fairly close together. The second half is going to produce a very exciting race for the Asian positions and at the bottom of the table.

S: Which teams have surprised you so far?

B: I think Fuli and Guizhou at the top have me a bit surprised and of course Shandong in a relegation position.

S: Fuli have spent quite big, but yes they are a surprise inclusion in the chasing pack. Shandong – is their location at the bottom of the table a bigger surprise than Shenhua’s?

B: That’s a good point. I think it’s a lot like I talked about before with Shenhua, seeing them in 15th place is a massive shock, but at the same time, they’re only four points away from where they should be.

S: Yes it’s very tight down there. Both teams are surprising in their own way. Shenhua because for me at least, Anelka or not, they shouldn’t be down there. Shandong seem to have lost their way badly, I don’t know what’s going on down there, it would be shocking to see them relegated.

B: It would be shocking to see either Shenhua or Shandong relegated, but I don’t think we’re going to see that.

S: Any other games on your radar this week? Who have Beijing got. I forgot, whats the story?

B: Beijing have R&F, it’s going to be an exciting clash, both teams are after three points to stay near the top of the table.

S: Ah, back to back Guangzhou fixtures, away match right?

B: R&F’s coming to Worker’s Stadium, so hopefully the Gongti faithful can help get revenge for the 3-1 defeat we suffered down there.

S: It’s going to be more misery if you lose again.

B: Yeah, three in a row, that’s something that hasn’t really happened in a while.

S: You might be left to fight for third place if results follow the form book – R&F may well win and we all know about Shenhua’s unending crapness, nevermind the fact its a Yangzte Delta Derby in Nanjing.

B: R&F have an absolutely terrible road form this season, it’s going to be a tough match, but I see Guoan winning it 2-1.

S: Ever the optimist. Good to see.

B: Interestingly enough, R&F have yet to draw this year, pretty shocking, 8 wins, 7 losses. They are tied for the second most wins, but they are also tied for the second most losses.

S: That is an interesting record. Never a boring moment at R&F it seems, we must get Donald in the pub.

B: It would be interesting to know what life’s like living next door to the Evil Empire.

S: Hahaha. That’s a good quote.

B: I think that’s all I have to say, it’s not the best of weeks when you look at the slate of matches. Next week is when things get interesting again…9-1, 9-1, 9-1!

S: Hahaha. 18 years unbeaten at Hongkou. Suck it.

B: But we have Mao now! He may have the touch of a donkey, but he knows how to score against Shanghai.

S: He has the brain of a donkey too.

B: But he knows how to score against Shenhua… And that’s all I care about.

S: That’s all he knows how to do. What a fuckwit.

B: In any case, cheers my man, be safe in Nanjing!

S: Will do. See you next week!

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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