After a disappointing start to the 2015 CSL season, Changchun Yatai have finally put a string of victories together to move up the table.
Results earlier in the season replicated those the North-East club earned at the beginning of last season, with Yatai having to wait until April 18th to record a 4-1 victory over Shanghai Shenxin.
Prior to that victory the club had three consecutive draws, which saw them begin to linger outside to Top 10 of the CSL.
Then disaster struck with Changchun recording four defeats in their next five matches, including a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Qingdao Jonoon in the Chinese FA Cup.
Fans began to despair as their beloved club inched closer and closer to the dreaded relegation zone, something fans had hope wouldn’t happen after wholesale changes were made to the team during the preseason.
But then, fortunes began to change.
Changchun have now had three consecutive league victories, with a 2-0 home victory against Henan Jianye followed by a 1-0 away win at Hangzhou and most recently with a 3-1 drubbing of Shanghai Shenhua at home before the international break.
Changchun have begun to play without fear, something that plagued the team regularly last season.
They would often back away from opposition players, allowing them to be exploited frequently and ending up with disappointing results against teams that, on paper, they should have defeated.
The team’s tackling has been much more organised and their general defensive positioning has improved greatly since the start of the season.
This may be down to some tactical genius by manager Gao Jinggang, who recently employed a 3-4-3 system in the team’s 3-1 victory at home to Shanghai Shenhua.
Changchun have utilised fan favourite Du Zhenyu and Szabolcs Huszti as part of their 3 strikers, sandwiching Pei Shuai up front.
Pei Shuai is a central defender/defensive midfielder by trade, but his ability to hold up the ball and retain possession has seen him play a similar role to players such as Emile Heskey in recent weeks.
This unusual tactical formation has tricked opposing teams and has seen Changchun claim vital victories that now see them sitting in 8th place in the CSL.
Fans will be hoping the team continues to play in a much more direct way, having seen a variety of players notching goals for the North-East club throughout the season.
Hope is growing in Changchun’s Jingkai district and with recent attendances hovering around 10,000, it appears fans are beginning to return to the club that has disappointed them in recent years.
Belief is the theme surrounding Changchun Yatai once again and the rest of the season will be eagerly watched by those associated with the club.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015