Thursday, November 26, 2009

Future of Guoan's Foreigners

The big story these days surrounding Guoan is the battle between the team and Newcastle Jets, the A-League side who loaned Joel Griffiths to Guoan. Newcastle is claiming Guoan promised that if they liked Griffiths, they'd pay US$1 million as his loan fee, whereas Guoan said this never happened and refuse to pay such a high price tag.

The will they/won't they debate over Griffiths doesn't concern me too much. While he was a solid player when he was on the pitch, they played him as the sole man up top and he doesn't have the height or ability to be the sole "fox in the box" type scorer. There are talks that Guoan are looking into the likes of Ramirez, Barcos, Otto, and Guinee as possible foreign additions. Any of those guys have the height and skill to play alone up top and would be a massive addition to our roster next season.

Keeping Matic, who was one of the "heart and soul" players to our side this past season, was an absolute must and the team has done that, so I'm very pleased about that. With him in the side, our midfield is sure to be solid, no matter what combo Hong or any other manager decides to use. The other foreigner that will stay on with the side in 2010 is Ryan Griffiths, who was a sub for much of the year, but was solid for us down the stretch.

As I said, as long as we have Matic, I'm okay with getting rid of the other foreigners. Martinez left China almost immediately after the final match, it seems he's spent long enough in China and I have no problem with that. Without him, there's no chance we'd have won the championship, his contribution during the last 5 games was huge, however before that, he was pretty much invisible on the pitch and had little impact.

While it would have been nice to keep Paul for continuity's sake and because as of now our defense looks weeks, I don't mind the fact he left. He started off the year on a bad foot, but by the end of the season, he was a fan favorite. He was solid at the back, though too often he was over anxious, leading to mistakes that sometimes cost us goals.

Will Guoan give up the scratch to keep Griffiths? At this point, I'd say no, as talked about, Luo Ning is very egotistical and won't like the ultimatum (buy Griffiths by November 30th or else) that Newcastle has given them.

Fatty Luo's Insane Idea...

The firing of Lee Jangsoo was one of Guoan's biggest mistakes in recent years and the sole reason for his firing was Luo Ning's personal ego. Having made statements in the media about Lee's need to win, the club was faced with the choice of firing Lee or embarrassing Luo after the Changchun loss and they made the wrong choice.

Hong Yuanshuo, who came on as interim manager for the final few matches, did a decent job for Guoan, securing the title, though whether his position should be made permanent has yet to be decided. As Guoan is in the midst of weighing their options, Luo has once again made himself look silly calling for a Beijinger to be the next manager of Guoan. I really don't understand if Luo just says these things to get his name in papers or if he actually believes them, but this is pure stupidity. Sure, it would be great to have a Beijinger in charge of the Beijing side, but more important is finding the best candidate. Look at the top European clubs, how many of them have someone from the city the team plays as their manager (let alone from the same country)?

Luo needs to savor the title and shut his mouth.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Note to Readers

We're back! No, blogspot's still blocked in China, but having finally gotten a VPN, we can now get around the Great Firewall, therefore expect regular posts here, though everything will also be cross-posted at Beijing Football. It was a great year to be a Guoan fan, though now we have 6 months before the start of the next CSL season. During that time, we'll look back at some moments from the past season, look ahead to next year, report any news, and also take a wider look at the sports scene in China, hope you all stay tuned (or start coming back!!!).

On a Carousel

While Beijing has began its coaching search for next season, a number of teams are interested in the guy who helped get them their first title. No, not Hong Yuanshuo, the man Guoan really needs to thank, Lee Jangsoo.

It started out with rumblings out of Shanghai that Shenhua was mulling over the idea of bringing in Lee, as of late, two other rivals have gotten into the race, Henan Construction and the hated Tianjin Teda. While Tianjin is denying rumors that Lee's at the top of their list, he appears to be on a short list of 4, one that includes former national team coach Arie Haan.

Lee was also being considered by Changchun Yatai, though right now it appears that another former Guoan head coach, Shen Xiangfu, will be leaving Guangzhou for Changchun next year. Definitely a good move for Changchun as Shen's a fine coach who is sure to help out. At the same time, Lee has also been rumored for the Changsha and Qingdao position, though those sides probably can't meet his salary demands.

I know its not going to be part of Tianjin's considerations, but hiring Lee will certainly ramp up the already tense rivalry between the sides. With 6 months to go before the start of the CSL season, its "gossip" like this that will keep me going through the long, cold winter.

A Beautiful Day

It's now 2 weeks since that wonderful Saturday late fall afternoon at Gongti, what a wonderful way to end the season.
The mood in the stands was great, everyone was happy and there was a rare spirit inside and outside the venue. The number of people who lined up outside the North Gate in full regalia but without tickets, settling for hanging outside the stadium listening to the match and hearing the sounds from inside was startling. In 16 years the club never won a title and, though on the verge of it on Saturday, the job was far from being finished. The fans were in full voice, louder than I've ever heard Gongti before and from the very beginning, the team responded with a goal 2 minutes in.

From that point on, it was pretty much over. Any fans worried about the pressure being too much for this team doesn't know how much players like Tao Wei and Xu Yunlong have been through, or how strong Matic and Yang Zhi were mentally. Only up 1-nil,not overwhelming, but early on the news went through the stands that Shenzhen also got an early goal, it seemed we were in the clear. One more goal for us in the final moments of the 1st half put away the match, again thanks to Martinez, the celebrations could begin.

Two more goals in the 2nd half, through Martinez once again and Zhou Ting, finished off an overwhelmed Hangzhou squad, while Shenzhen beat Henan 3-1. The celebration began on the Guoan bench with 5 minutes left and when the final whistle went, it was pandemonium amongst the fans and players. The fans remained inside the stadium, singing and just soaking it in for over an hour after the match, then took the celebration to the streets, bars, and little restaurants all over the city.

A truly amazing Halloween that I'll never forget, it took 16 years to get there, hopefully it won't take that long before we get to celebrate again. I think I said everything I could about how meaningful the match was before the game, now I can only say, still 2 weeks on, I'm walking around happier than usual because Beijing is the champions. I've never enjoyed Gloria Gaynor's "I will Survive" (played over and over before and after the match) and Queen's "We Are the Champions" that much before.

For pictures, head to Beijing Guoan - Hangzhou Greentown photos.