Evergrande entered the trough of Chinese football 12 years ago. What did they leave behind 12 years later?
On September 25, 12 years ago, Guangzhou beat Guangdong Rizhiquan 3-2 and won the place to upgrade to the Chinese Super League three rounds ahead of schedule. On December 27, 12 years later, the Guangzhou team lost 1-4 to Changchun Yatai, relegated 1 round ahead of schedule and returned to the long-lost Chinese League one.
Some people say that Guangzhou Evergrande ushered in a new era of Chinese football, winning 17 trophies, including 2 AFC championships, in addition to the eight championships of the Chinese Super League.
However, some people say that Guangzhou Evergrande is just a big show. Apart from spending a lot of money to build a club that is detached from the Chinese Super League, it has never really changed Chinese football.
It is difficult to come to a conclusion about which is right and which is wrong. Some people will ridicule that they have wasted money, while others will also believe that this is the most beautiful and promising era they have ever seen.
01. Start from Serie A: rush to the top of Asia like a myth
Before Evergrande entered the football circle, after the best part of the 2002 World Cup and 2003 Asian Cup runner-up, Chinese football, which fell into a whirlpool of anti-triads and fakes, entered a stage of “self-shock”.
In 2004, Rizhiquan spent only 1 yuan to get 70% ownership of the Guangzhou team, which was relegated because the team was involved in match-fixing, which led to the withdrawal of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Group.
So when Evergrande uses a capital injection of 100 million to get a controlling stake in the team, while changing the team’s name to Guangzhou Evergrande, it will more or less surprise people around.
The 100 million yuan investment made waves in the small-scale Chinese football world at that time. International players such as Zheng Zhi, Gao Lin and Sun Xiang joined the team, and at the same time introduced top foreign aid like Murich to get tickets to the Chinese Super League three rounds in advance. It’s also a perfectly normal result.
In 2011, when Conka came to the Chinese Super League with a sky-high salary that made Real Madrid stars jealous, Guangzhou Evergrande, which played 44 games unbeaten, created the Kaiserslautern myth of Chinese football.
A year later, they successfully defended the Chinese Super League, won the FA Cup and the Super Cup, and declared their unshakable status in the way of the domestic treble.
In 2013, Guangzhou Evergrande, which went abroad, not only created the highest 77 points and 78 goals in China’s top league history, but also won the AFC Champions League for the first time after staging three consecutive championships. Gao Lin’s goal in the final made him the first Chinese player to accomplish this feat.
At the Club World Cup at the end of that year, Guangzhou Evergrande made it to the semi-finals to face the treble Bayern Munich.
Despite losing the battle, winning the fourth place in the Club World Cup has been a breakthrough milestone.
Two years later, Guangzhou Evergrande won the AFC Champions League for the second time, once again reached the semi-finals of the Club World Cup, facing Barcelona, another treble champion team.
When the team finished its seventh consecutive championship in the Chinese Super League in 2017, the market effect of Chinese football reached its peak. Compared with the lack of interest in 2010, seven years later, the Chinese Super League even had a grand occasion that it was difficult to get a vote.
02. Evergrande’s professional management: has it really changed Chinese football?
When it comes to Jinyuan football, Guangzhou Evergrande can be said to be the initiator, but it should be noted that in the subsequent tide of “burning money”, Guangzhou Evergrande has shown a more professional and higher level of management.
For example, in the introduction of foreign aid, although there have been unsuccessful “parallel imports” such as Gilardino and Dimandi, but like Muric, Conka, Golat, Elksen and Paulinho, Alan and Taliska, generally speaking, the performance-to-price ratio is very high.
In particular, after the disappointment in the Premier League, Paulinho renewed his second spring in the Chinese Super League and was even chosen by La Liga giants Barcelona to become the third scoring point on the way to win the La Liga championship (second only to Lionel Messi and Suarez). It has also become the main midfielder for the Brazilian national team to compete in the 2018 World Cup.
This is not only a legend of Paulinho, but also makes the Chinese Super League a topic discussed repeatedly by players in the European and American football circles and even the five major European leagues (of course, it is also related to the higher and higher annual salary of the Chinese Super League).
Apart from being superior to others in the selection of coaches and foreign aid, Guangzhou Evergrande’s management in many other details can be called harsh, but it gives people a bit of a sense of “show”.
For example, Cannavaro’s “corporate culture class” once became a joke. The “first share of Asian Football” listed on the new third board also appeared to be in a bit of a hurry and panic when it pulled out.
Yu Hanchao, who was expelled for changing the license plate, shone brilliantly in the AFC Champions League after going to Shanghai Shenhua, which more or less embarrassed Evergrande who was out of the group stage.
Guangzhou Evergrande’s high-profile “three Nine” team rule, “Nine must, Nine not allowed, Nine dismissal” is indeed a benchmark of Chinese football. Zheng Zhi, the veteran of the team, and Paulinho, the foreign aid, are also models of the whole league.
However, Guangzhou Evergrande’s “strict management” does not really bring the atmosphere of the whole league or Chinese football circle. At the same time, the division of the AFC Champions League, which spent a lot of money to build, is also quite limited to improve the actual combat effectiveness of Chinese football.
03. The investment of Evergrande Football School is amazing: the achievements are too limited.
In the autumn of 10 years ago, Guangzhou Evergrande invested 1.1 billion yuan in the first phase to build a football school in Qingyuan that broke the Guinness record.
Two years later, the first batch of trainees of Evergrande Football School went abroad to study in Spain, and the following year they opened Evergrande Football School campuses in Spain, the Netherlands and other places. In 2016, Lippi became a consultant to the football school, earning an annual salary of up to 15 million euros.
When the time came to May 2017, Evergrande Football School, which has 3500 full-time students, once again set a Guinness World record.
However, with the separation between Real Madrid and Evergrande, the high tuition fees were once exposed, and in September 2017, Liu Jiangnan, the first president who had worked for five years, resigned, saying that there were differences between himself and Evergrande on many ideas of running a school. makes people doubt the future of the football school.
In particular, the Luneng Football School, which costs much less than Evergrande, beat them several times in face-to-face conversations, which makes people worry about the talent level of Evergrande Football School.
Zhongchao has entered one of the most embarrassing times, and more and more young people are getting opportunities. Tan Kaiyuan and Ling Jie from Evergrande Football School have come to prominence in the Guangzhou team. Bugrahan of Cangzhou Lion, Dili Yimiti of Yatai, Chen Guokang of Meizhou and Liu Yixin of Longmen of Songshan, Henan, have also gradually won a place.
However, considering the investment of Evergrande Football School over the years (more than 3 billion yuan), whether compared with the Chongming Island base of coach Xu Genbao, Luneng Football School, or Greentown Youth training, the output can only be said to be too limited. Far from the ability to support the future of Chinese football.
04. Naturalized players are a dead end: they have failed to help Chinese football even in the short term.
Guangzhou Evergrande’s greatest contribution is to create the peak of the Chinese Super League brand, which once made our own league attractive and charismatic. However, when investors were generally hit hard after the epidemic, the decline of the Chinese Super League was inevitable.
At the same time, the huge investment in youth training, the output is too low, compared with other silently ploughed teams, obviously can not let Evergrande face shine.
So their third major investment in revitalizing Chinese football-naturalized players, has become a key focus.
From shouting out the “all-Chinese class” in high profile in the past, to turning Brazilian foreign aid into our “own international player”, Boss Xu’s plan does have his “rigor” and “logic”.
However, Gorat was unable to play for his country because of his work mistakes. Fernando was trapped by injuries and never played. The performances of healthy Exxon, Jiang Guangtai, Alan and Luo Guofu in the Asian semi-finals of the World Cup can be described as commendable, but they did not really help Chinese football climb another high-rise.
In particular, with Evergrande’s funding shrinking, they also missed the final stage of the competition, and no one really knows whether they will play in the 2023 Asian Cup.
In the past 12 years, Guangzhou Evergrande has risen with a mythical model, which has ignited the light of hope in the hearts of countless fans.
But 12 years later, when the Guangzhou team was relegated, we found that everything seemed to be a dream and didn’t really leave anything to Chinese football.
Perhaps at some point, we will still be more eager to have more Chongming Island model and more Luneng football schools. This is not to say that the peak memories left by Guangzhou Evergrande are not sweet enough, only things that can last for a long time, perhaps more worthy of aftertaste and repeated talk.