With 2014 soon to slip into the annals of history – who were the movers and shakers for the year in Chinese football? once again dishes out awards for the great, the good, the irevverent and the not so great and good with our annual ceremony. Who were your choices? Let us know in the comments section below.
Chinese Player of the Year – Zhang Linpeng (Guangzhou Evergrande)
In a year where the national team’s performances continued to disappoint, and the scoring charts of the CSL be dominated by foreigners, it was at the back of the pitch where China’s successes were to be found. The first name written on both Alan Perrin and Marcello Lippi’s teamsheets this year, Zhang Linpeng was a model of consistency whether played at right back or in the centre of defence. A foreign move surely beckons for the 25-year-old.
Foreign Player of the Year –Elkeson (Guangzhou Evergrande)
The powerful forward’s 28 goals in 28 games speaks for itself. No-one has scored as many goals as they played games in the CSL before and the Brazilian set a new all-time record.
Goalkeeper of the Year – Yan Junling (Shanghai SIPG)
Yan Junling – despite a couple of recent errors borne out of inexperience, has come on leaps and bounds under goalkeeping coach Ian Walker’s tutelage. Dramatic improvements on last year and a first call up make him a solid choice.
Young Player of the Year –Liu Binbin (Shandong Luneng)
A place in the squad for the Asian Cup in Australia and a goal in the CFA cup final closed a great year for the young midfielder. Hotly tipped for the future Liu’s running and movement set him apart in midfield – an area which China is relatively well-off in.
Manager of the Year – Gregorio Manzano (Beijing Guoan)
The Spainiard led Guoan to arguably its best ever season including a solid away record in his debut year. The capital side, who pushed Guangzhou Evergrande all the way to the finish line, scored 16 more points and won 7 more games in 2014 as runners-up than they did in 2009 as winners of the CSL.
Best Away Fans’ Showing – Harbin Yiteng on the road all year
Despite having a very modest budget, Harbin Yiteng won a lot of friends with their plucky performances, and with just over 26,000 fans per home game, were incredibly the best supported team in China outside of high-flying Beijing Guoan and Guangzhou Evergrande. Harbin fans clinch the award for enduring the first 7 games of their season on the road due to the harsh Heilongjiang Province winters.
Match of the Year – Guangzhou R&F 3-4 Guangzhou Evergrande
Derbies don’t come any better than this – Evergrande race into a 3-0 lead, are pegged back to 3-3 with 10 minutes left, before the reigning champions clinch three points with a last-gasp winner.
Fool of the Year –Jack Ma
This award goes to Alibaba tycoon Jack Ma for pulling out of investing in his broke hometown club Hangzhou to throw money into already-rolling-in-it Guangzhou Evergrande. Instead of trying to help a struggling team with a solid youth set-up and potential, why not invest your money in a team that absolutely doesn’t need it and make the league even less competitive. Direct comparisons are never perfect, but it’s like Sheikh Mansour forming a partnership with Roman Abramovich at Chelsea instead of investing in Man City.
Stupidest decision of the year: Beijing Guoan putting visiting Hangzhou fans behind a stage
There’s always a wide selection of utterly unbelieveable and difficult-to-understand acts go on in Chinese football each year. In 2014, with the Workers’ Stadium due to a Jay Chou concert, and a lack of common sense, nowhere in the 60,000-plus stadium could be found for Hanghou’s 50 travelling fans, without an obscured view like the one above.
Worst kit of the year – Dalian Aerbin
The eagle badge and high collar make give a 70s Olympic team from the USSR or some other Eastern bloc country vibe. Argh!
Biggest Waste of Foreign Player slot – Dorin Goga (Harbin Yiteng)
Signed June 24 from Georgian champions Dinamo Tbilisi, released July 14 apparently due to the fact that his family didn’t support his move to China. He never played a minute of competitive football for Harbin.
The Bezek Award for Heroic Deeds – Shanghai Shenhua supporters’ name change protest
Shanghai Shenhua’s name has contained “Shenhua” since its foundation – an exceedinly rare example of continuity and clarity in Chinese football club nomenclature. Not only were the protests against the Greenland name change an outstanding example to football fans all over China of how powerful interests can be overturned, they also ingeniously made themselves uncensorable by quoting none other than Xi Jinping on the importance of tradition. In the face of a fortune-500 global corporation, and an environment indifferent to the concept of fan power and ignorant of football culture, Shanghai Shenhua’s fans emerged victorious and “Shenhua” was officially restored to the club’s name by the end of the season.
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