Tianjin TEDA – Club 2 – Season 2 – Update 5
At the end of my last update we had 6 games remaining and as we were entering the home stretch I was hoping that we could secure our top 4 position that would ensure Asian Champions League football next season.
With a five point gap to 5th placed Dalian Professional, we knew that we had to continue our good run of form if we wanted to secure our position. Looking up the league as well we still had a chance at winning the league if we could close the 4 point gap to Beijing, however they had also been on a good run lately so I knew this might be a long shot.
First up we faced relegation threatened Shanghai Shenhua and comfortably dispatched they 3-0 with a Rafaelzinho brace and an own goal.
Our next game was all the more important as we welcome Dalian Professional to the Water Drop stadium. Going into the game we knew a win would extend the gap to them to 8 points with 4 games to play – an almost impossible task to overcome, so we went into the game on the offensive. We started well with another Gojak special on 22 minutes before Dalian made it 1-1 on the half hour mark. The second half however brought about a change in the flow of the game as Dalian knew they could not afford to lose, or possibly even draw the game they began to leave gaps in their defence that were easily picked apart by our attacking trio of Ma Jin, Rafaelzinho and Shuai, the latter two both finding the net in the final 25 minutes to give us a crucial 3-1 victory.
Our next game was almost as important as we faced second place Shanghai, knowing a win would put us in the thick of the title race. Despite this, the previous game had taken a lot out of us and as the game wore on we really struggled to keep Shanghai out and eventually succumbed to a 2-0 defeat.
We followed up that defeat with another, this time at the hands of bottom of the league Zhejiang Greentown in a really disappointing performance. This meant we could no longer win the league, a long shot in the first place, however it also made our final two games all the more important as we knew one win would guarantee us a top 4 position.
Our penultimate game was at home to 14th paled Qingdao Huanghai and we finally recaptured the form that had put us in the top four this season with a fantastic hat trick from Rafaelzinho and a 4th goal courtesy of Ma Jin.
Top 4 was secured and our second season in the Champions League as a manager was on its way. Despite our small hiccup we had secured what we came for and rounded off the season with a 1-0 win over Henan.
So, confirmation of our qualification as we finish the season in 3rd place, just a point behind Shanghai in second and still only 5 points off champions Beijing. With the right additions I feel like the league title is easily within our grasp next year.
A fantastic season all round as we achieved our pre-season goals. Rafaelzinho has played a huge part this year, scoring a massive 25 league goals in the 29 games he played in, which is a club record. He also bagged 6 assists meaning he contributed more than a goal a game this season, enough to win him League Player of the Year.
Other players that have been particularly impressive have got to be our midfield trio or Gojak, Ibanez and Saeter. As I had hoped for before the season started, these three players have formed a real bond in the middle of the park and have probably won us an extra 10 or so points on their own. In total they have shared 14 goals and 17 assists in all competitions which is very impressive.
Similarly, another two players who have been equally as impressive have been Li Qi and Tang Hui our fullbacks. They have shared 7 goals and 9 assists this season which is a good return considering we aren’t playing with very attacking wing-backs.
Ma Jin has even managed to have a decent end to the year and has finished with 12 goals and 4 assists (although 6 of his goals did come in one game). He is still young so I am hoping he will learn from this year and perform even better next season.
As expected, Rafaelzinho scooped fans player of the year with a massive 56% of the vote this year, with Gojak taking home signing of the season and goal of the season as well.
I have just signed a new contract with Tianjin TEDA which ties me down for another 3 years. I don’t know if I will be here for the full length of the contract, but it does at least buy me some job security. Perhaps encouragingly the board do expect us to make the semi-finals of the Champions League next year which indicates that the squad is already one of the strongest in the continent which is good.
Additionally, I completed my National A coaching license earlier this season and have just begun my Continental C license which will be the second and last one I will be able to earn at Tianjin.
Overall, I am very happy with our performance this year and we have achieve my goal of getting into the Champions League. The next step is to try and bring in a few more quality players over the winter before we have our first real go at trying to win the Champions League.
*My next update will be running through my transfer business and bringing you our first few Champions League group games with Tianjin TEDA. Thanks for reading!!*