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Worker’s Stadium Ramblings: No more next year

As a Chicagoan, I’m naturally disposed to the optimism of “wait ’till next year”. One of the local baseball teams, the Chicago Cubs, last won the title in 1908, that’s over 100 years ago (though I’m not a Cubs fan, South Side, baby! The White Sox last won it 10 years ago). I’ve heard it all my life and last night I heard it a lot on tv and from fellow Guoan fans. I’m sick of it!

After the sadness disappointment of Beijing Guoan’s defeat to Jeonbuk Hyundai Tuesday night washed over me, reality set in. It’s pretty simple, losing was probably the best thing for Beijing. Even the most optimistic Guoan fan probably couldn’t see this side getting much further in the competition and being eliminated means they can focus on the league and cup.

That’s all well and good, but what I’m frustrated by is that despite the improvements in the domestic league and the passion of the fans, two years on from Guangzhou Evergrande’s ACL victory we’ve not seen another Chinese side get past the Round of 16. There are easy generalizations that can be made about Chinese performances in the ACL, but I’m more focused on Guoan’s struggles to get past the first round of the knockout stage.

Guoan just isn’t good enough. The defense and goalkeeping is up to snuff but its on its last legs and while replacements have been found, the spirit and leadership will be near impossible to replace. The team has put copious amounts of money into building a midfield and it is one of the best in China, that said I can’t help but think Manzano relies way too much on Pablo Batalla in a way that negatively influences the team and holds back the development of younger players. Up top, what can be said? If Dejan or Erton is scoring the team is winning, if not, well it’s going to be a long day and neither are really at the top of their game.

Until the side is ready to mount a serious Asian campaign, I could care less whether they get knocked out in the group stage, Round of 16, or quarterfinals, there just isn’t that much difference and its not like in Europe where the money makes a big difference. Indeed, especially considering the age of many of the players, I’d rather they just go out early, not have the additional match demands, and fully focus on the league title.

Please stop talking about next year, until Guoan makes real changes, it’s just going to be the same thing all over again.

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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