Chinese column – Button teams and a Camacho-analysis

4 minute read

Midweek games are always interesting because it also tell us how big the squad is and not just show us the normal starting eleven.
Some teams have to make changes due to suspension, injuries or tired players, and some coaches prefer to change the starting eleven if the match three days later is more important for example, so midweek games show us a lot of aspects in the teams.

I watched two games on Wednesday. First Guangzhou Fully VS Tianjin and then Changchun’s win over Shanghai Shenhua. It was interesting for me to see that the two teams in the button of the league played very well this evening.

Tianjin had problems in the first 15 minutes in their away game against Guangzhou Fully, but after this period they controlled the rest of the first half. Tianjin is a very solid team with the ball. They try to build up with patience, good distance between the two central defenders, which makes it difficult for the opponents to pressure, because they have more meters to run, basically explained.

The two full backs go high up, so Tianjin tries to create majority in the center of the pitch. In front they were playing with Colombian striker Valencia, but he did not play very well this evening. He is a fast striker with good movement, so he needs space to run into before he is dangerous, and tonight often he faced a back four from Guangzhou Fully standing very low and leaving no deep space.
Tianjin has to look at their defense and physical shape. Generally speaking it is too easy to create chances against Tianjin and there is too much space between their midfield chain and their defense chain. This means tactically that the opponents have too much space in between the Tianjin chains to play, turn and be dangerous against the goal. And this was what Coelho did on the 1-0 goal Wednesday evening. And then their players always look tired and they lose momentum after 70 minutes, which must be a physical issue.

Yesterday I did some scouting on some players, and I found a very interesting Tianjin player. Jiang Weipeng – 20 years old – could be a player soon to be in the starting 11 for Tianjin. Very interesting player. Central defender, left foot, solid on the ball, calm and modern in his style. I will definitely follow him in the future.

First win in 14 games
Changchun won their first victory this evening and big congrats to them. It must be a relief for the coach, staff and players to finally get the win and at the same time move over the relegation zone.
They actually played like a winning team with high intensity all the way, and I did not see a team falling apart like other teams without a win, so mentally they look strong, and this is important for them for the rest of the season because they are going to fight to avoid relegation.

Their main problem is scoring goals. 9 goals in 14 matches will not make a lot of points. I like number 10 Isac and if Changchun can find a better partner for him – the team will score more goals. The issue for Isac right now is that he is used to doing things alone, so he tries too much and tries to do too difficult things instead of keeping it simple, so a new striker would really spike up the Changchun offense. Hopefully a fast one due to Isac’s strong physic in a partnership.

Camacho had to go
As I have said before, I don’t like coaches being sacked. It’s very rarely the right decision and in the European book “Soccernomics”, some clever analyst show through data that a new coach often makes more points in the beginning, but after 3-6 month – he is just as good / bad as the old fired coach, so basically it was a waste to change coach.

But in terms of Camacho as national coach of China, then I do believe that match was bad from the beginning. I didn’t see an enthusiastic coach or a coach, who really loved his job. And the players probably saw the same thing. And as soon as the players feel that a coach doesn’t like the project – their motivation goes down and the performance will be bad.

So a coach “losing the dressing room” has to go no matter if it is his fault or not. The damage cannot be solved and only a new coach, a new face, a new voice and a new style can pick up the players once more. Some people asked me on Weibo whether the players don’t have a responsibility in this case and in the 1-5 defeat against Thailand - and of course they do.

I was very disappointed to see Chinese national players not playing with their heart. In Denmark the players are extremely proud of representing the country, because they feel they play for the entire country, so it was shocking to see that players did not care about the game. And the new coach should consider if these players should be called up again. I would take a long talk with them to find out why the acted like they did before making my mind. It’s not a question about playing good or playing bad, but to always deliver a 100 % effort every time at least.

China needs to find a new national coach with the heart at the right place. A Chinese coach is probably the best choice with foreign help and assist. I could see the perfect model with a top Chinese head coach and a foreign good coach as assistant to bring in new inspiration and know-how. That could move China ahead.

But as mentioned before – the next generation is the most important one, so focus on U15, U17 and U19 in China. They are the future.

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