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Mission accomplished – Hangzhou Greentown 2014 review

For Hangzhou Greentown, it’s hard to look back on this season without classifying it as a success; a sense of mission accomplished. At the start of the season, Chairman Song Weiping set the team the target of retaining their place in the CSL and this was achieved with two games to spare.  After losing experienced Japanese manager Takeshi Okada at the start of the season and promoting untested youth coach Yang Ji to manager, many tipped Hangzhou for the drop.  However, Yang’s youthful squad – combined with the experience of foreigners Anselmo Ramon, Davy Claude Angan and Gilberto Macena did just about enough to stay in the CSL for another season.

The biggest highlight of the season for Greentown would have to be victory over Shenhua at Hongkou early in the season, securing victory at the home of their rivals for the second year running.  A 3-1 victory saw Hangzhou at their fluid best and once again silenced their noisy neighbours.  A thumping 4-1 win over 3th placed signed Shandong Luneng was the best action fans saw at the Huanglong this season, although with over 100 goals going in in 30 fixtures fans were always guaranteed goals.

Ramon has easily been Hangzhou’s player of the season this year, scoring 16 times in the league and providing 8 assist.  His experience and cool head leading the line, often on his own contributed immensely to Greentown’s survival and without his goals it’s highly unlikely Hangzhou would have stayed up.  Wang Song has rolled back the years in midfield, scoring 3 times and contributing 10 assists, showing the young players how it’s done.  Angan chipped in with nine invaluable goals after recovering from a bout of pneumonia earlier in the season, despite a tendency to go missing in games against the top sides.

Special mention has to go to the young players in Yang Ji’s side; the club and manager promoted numerous young players to the first team squad this season as the board looked to make the club a more sustainable, self-sufficient outfit.  Shi Ke, Xie Pengfei, Feng Gang, Luo Jing, Zang Yifeng and Zhang Yuhao have all been key members of the first team and also featured frequently for China’s U19 and Olympic teams.  This ‘post ‘93’ generation has shown great promise, as well as some youthful inexperience throughout the season; but Hangzhou look to have found some real gems from their academy.

For, Yang Ji and Hangzhou, improvements have to be made to the defence next season.  This season the defence has been all at sea, particularly against the better teams in the league.  Greentown conceded 60 times, a staggering average of two goals per game, far and away the most in the league and a number of these were down to individual errors.  The side only managed two clean sheets all season and conceded 3 goals or more eight times this year.  This not only happened against the likes of Guo’an and Evergrande but against lowly Harbin and Henan as Greentown leaked goals left, right and centre

Next season it looks likely the club will continue to pursue the ‘Youth Revolution’ that has met with reasonable success and seen numerous young players go on to represent their country at some level.  There have been no signs from the Chairman that the club intends to spend big over the close season, so Greentown fans should expect to see few signings.  Foreigners Ramon, Angan and Macena are likely to stay although don’t be surprised to see one of Luka Zinko or Son Dae-Ho leave the club.

It’s not many years since Hangzhou were playing Champions League football yet the chances of the club playing the competition again look a long way off; the days of big spending at the club looking to be over for the foreseeable future.  Most Greentown fans will be bracing themselves for a 4th successive season battling the drop.  On the bright side, it will be done by a team of fresh, young players who the supporters can really get behind.

Key Stats

Top Goalscorer: Anselmo Ramon – 16

Most Assists: Wang Song – 10

Most appearances: Gu Chao- 30

Biggest win: Hangzhou Greentown 4 – Shandong Luneng Taishan 1

Biggest defeat: Guangzhou R & F 6 – Hangzhou Greentown 2

Highest scoring game: Hangzhou Greentown 3 – Liaoning Whowin 4

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