Normal service has resumed in the Chinese Super League record books. Another season has ended and Guangzhou Evergrande finish it at the top of the table. Last season’s champions, Shanghai SIPG, had been seen off last week, and with it their hopes of retaining the title. This week, it was Shanghai’s other side that saw Evergrande over the line . Their 3-0 win over Shanghai Shenhua at Tianhe Stadium on Sunday was more of a procession than a walkover as the three points confirmed they were champions for an eighth time in nine years. Their last remaining rivals, Beijing Guoan, came from two down to end their season in style with a 3-2 win over Shandong Luneng at the Workers’ Stadium, but the favour from their “China Derby” rivals Shenhua was not to come. There would be no first title going to the capital since 2009 and if they can finally win it again next year it will be in unfamiliar surroundings. Guoan won’t be back at Gongti for a while now as the old stadium is refurbished. Shanghai SIPG also signed off their season in style with a 6-0 win over Shenzhen at Shanghai Stadium. The table doesn’t lie ... The champions scored the most goals and conceded the fewest over the course of the season Marko Arnautovic, so anonymous after coming on as a substitute for the side in their title decider last week, scored four. Hulk and Oscar nabbed one each for the 2018 champions on the day they handed over the title. The table doesn’t lie, football fans like to say. The champions scored the most goals and conceded the fewest over the course of the season. They put in the longest winning run – 13 games – and the longest unbeaten run with 15 games. They needed to, because they were pushed all the way in their hardest title win yet. Beijing Guoan started off with 10 wins in the first 10 matches of the season for a perfect record that had them top of the table. SIPG did not give up their grip on the CSL trophy either. They led for the first three weeks, only faltering in the final week with that loss at Evergrande and a 1-1 draw at relegated Beijing Renhe. Evergrande only went top of the table for the first time in the 19th round of matches and the title went down to the final day. Goals from Wei Shihao, South Korean defender Park Ji-Soo and Brazilian-born China international Elkeson sealed the title. The three different scorers evidence that it was a team effort over the season. Star man Paulinho scored 19 goals and finished second on the golden boot standings behind Guangzhou R&F’s Eran Zahavi on a preposterous 29. Newly naturalised Elkeson, who returned to Evergrande in the summer, was third on that list. Teammate Yang Liyu was behind only Oscar in the assists charts. That’s not even mentioning the team’s talisman, Anderson Talisca. The champions have not been without their problems this season either. Manager Fabio Cannavaro’s ability to see out the season had been in doubt. He was publicly questioned by the club for his “weak ability to rectify mistakes” and stripped of his job when he was told to attend “corporate culture training” at company headquarters after another disappointing result. Cannavaro was briefly replaced by veteran Zheng Zhi but the Italian kept his job last month, on the proviso that he “raise the players’ overall fighting ability to win the Chinese Super League”. He has done that and with it lifted the first major honour of his managerial career. Since Cannavaro returned to the role after the last international break, his side beat Shanghai SIPG and then beat Hebei China Fortune on the road before capping the week and the championship off with a win over Shenhua. It was pointed that defender Park celebrated by running over to the manager to celebrate his goal and the side’s second in a public show of support for Cannavaro. To some extent, Cannavaro has had his hands tied this season. The club had decided to play with just two rather than three foreigners at the start of the season. That was ameliorated by virtue of them becoming the de facto home of naturalisation. They also banned Wei for a month for a foul he committed on national duty, a China Cup game during Cannavaro’s brief time doing both jobs. What happens next is anyone’s guess as the football gives way to rumour and rule change. Wei and Yang have been linked with moves abroad to follow in the footsteps of Wu Lei at Espanyol, while the fate of naturalised players is unclear. Cannavaro’s future remains in doubt. These are questions for the coming months as the season is not quite over. Shandong Luneng and Shanghai Shenhua still have the small matter of the Chinese FA Cup final second leg and the final AFC Champions League spot. Will it be China’s fifth or 13th best team taking on Asia’s best next year?