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Two tales of one city – The Guangzhou Paper Review

What a difference two weeks can make. After Elkeson’s competitive debut in the Super Cup, which some papers described as the worst of any foreign forward at Guangzhou, five goals in two games has made the Guangzhou press go all giddy.Xinkuai writes that in front of the 40,000 Evergrande faithful, Elkeson’s hat-trick was the main story and the prematch hype of Evergrande’s ‘revenge’ against Super Cup winners Jiangsu was largely forgotten. Xinkuai goes on to make comparisons with Evergrande’s former “Efficiency King” Cleo who scored 10 goals in 10 games last season before injury derailed his fine run of form. Xinkuai goes all weak at the knees and splutters “Elkeson is the new darling of Tianhe Sports Centre.” Jiangsu coach Dragan Okuka gets in on the Elkeson love-fest by saying that his goal streak “fully reflects his worth”. Lippi, Xinkuai adds, was slightly more coy just saying that Elkeson has trained very hard. The paper picks out an online comment by one fan, “you get what you pay for” yet more level headed Evergrande fans may point to the forlorn figure of injured Lucas Barrios and beg to differ.

The Information Times focuses more on the “Perfect Revenge” that Evergrande managed to achieve over Jiangsu. After the dire performance in the Super Cup which Lippi blamed on a “lack of concentration,” Evergrande looked a better side. Evergrande and Jiangsu were both coming back from Asian Champions League games and both coaches, the Information Times reports, made it clear before the game that they wanted three points. The Jiangsu coach did not have too many complaints after the match, the Information Times quotes him as saying that “we hope to play better than this, but when you’re playing against Asia’s and China’s strongest team, losing is acceptable. Playing Evergrande, you cannot expect two wins, like it’s impossible to beat Barcelona consecutively.“ Evergrande like Barcelona? Add your comments at the bottom, please.

In it’s week two game, R&F were roundly beaten again. Nandu reports that in the 80th minute, the stadium PA had already announced the man of the match. It points out that R&F have conceded two goals in the opening two minutes in the last two games. All is not well at on the west side of Guangzhou, Nandu gloomily adding that the club is slipping into crisis. One reason for the loss was the absence of Royston Griffiths. Farias was short on explanations at the post match press conference, “if you want details, ask the club!” going on to say, “because of a few mistakes made by the staff at the club, before the match I was told that Royston couldn’t play. It directly disrupted my plans.” It turns out that Griffiths’ permit to play football in China did not have the official seal of the CFA, yet this does not explain how Griffiths managed to play last week at Yuexiushan against Liaoning. The simple explanation? Nobody bothered to check the previous week. A high level R&F official admitted the mistake to journalists but said that it wasn’t just one person’s fault. The Guangzhou Daily reports that Griffiths was told just one hour before the match that he would not be playing.

Last week’s starting defensive midfielder Zhang Yaokun, who is actually a centre back, was moved to left back to replace Liu Cheng, who picked up an injury in training the day before the match. The two replacements for last week’s two missing defensive midfielders (Griffiths and Yaokun) were last week’s substitutes, Wu Weian and Gao Zengxiang. At half time, Farias swapped Li Wenbo, a natural left back, with Wu Weian and moved Zhang Yaokun back to defensive midfield.

Nandu rages as to why Farias didn’t start Li Wenbo, a proper left back. Guangzhou Daily writes that Zhang’s spell at left back was a result of internal suggestions after his poor game at defensive midfield the week before. R&F Vice Chairman Lu Yi was quoted in Nandu saying that he was puzzled at the decision to play Zhang at left back, as he was  brought in to strengthen central defence but has not played there yet this season. Lu Yi then lets Farias off the hook slightly by saying that since he is the head coach, Farias has every right to do what he pleases and the club hierarchy will not interfere. Nandu goes on to say that Farias’ insistence that these problems have forced him into these decisions slightly shirks his responsibility.

The paper then expels a heavy sigh and says that playing a player out of position doesn’t confuse the opposition but confuses your own defence. Guangzhou Daily adds that for all the defensive weaknesses that Farias has complained about, Li Jianhua, a full back who was brought in from Evergrande, has yet to make the match squad let alone the first XI. R&F General Manager Zhang Bin tried to lift spirits in the Hangzhou rain by saying, “the club right now are in a difficult situation. I think we will pass through this crisis together.”

I write about Guangzhou football, Red Blue and Green, I lean towards Guangdong Sunray Cave though. Main team is Tottenham Hotspur and have never gotten over Jurgen Klinsmann's exit. Born a Cockney but raised in and around Manchester. Used to work for Manchester United when I was a student and yes, I watched Sun Jihai play for Manchester City. Happy Days!



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