Has Alan’s red mist given Guangzhou’s title challenge the elbow? Brazilian sure to miss chunk of the season for senseless sending off
Disciplinary committee will give the forward a thumbs down for his actions but how long he is sidelined is anyone’s guess
“A series of fouls, arguments and even aggressions” was how Tianjin Quanjian manager Paulo Sousa described Friday night’s meeting with champions Guangzhou Evergrande on his website but one incident stands out.
And it could have a bearing on the destination of the title.
Evergrande’s Brazilian forward Alan Carvalho was sent off for throwing an elbow at home defender Liu Yiming, seemingly in response to an off the ball challenge some seconds before.
The referee rightly reached for his top pocket and it was only Alan who was surprised to see the card was red.
The next look of disbelief from Guangzhou Evergrande will come when the disciplinary committee meets to dish out his punishment.
In the short term, Alan’s absence did not have an immediate adverse effect. The champions scored not too long after he departed with Gao Lin’s goal enough to give Evergrande the three points and put them among the pack of four teams behind 100 per cent Shanghai SIPG at the top of the Super League.
In the longer term, the powers that be are sure to make an example of Alan and he will be on the receiving end of a lengthy ban – one that could see him miss much of the season.
When it comes to punishment, there is no standard in Chinese football. There are precedents, plenty of them, but they are unpredictable.
Last season’s standouts included a two-game ban for the thumbs up given by Shanghai Shenhua’s Sun Shilin – also against Tianjin Quanjian, incidentally – and SIPG’s Oscar given eight matches for instigating a mini-fracas. This time last year there was also the most worrying precedent for Alan, a six-month ban for Shenhua’s Qin Sheng for a stamp – again coming in the game against Quanjian – on Axel Witsel.
What brought about the “draconian” punishments, as they were described at the time, was that the games were broadcast internationally and there was a worry from the authorities that such incidents portrayed China in a bad light.
That’s not going to help Alan as this was the game chosen for live coverage on Sky Sports in the UK, the most high-profile of CSL broadcast deals overseas.
So what punishment can Alan expect? No one knows but whatever it is, it could harm Evergrande’s chances of retaining the title.
He’s one of their stars, as his early season form has shown, and a prolonged absence will be felt in front of goal.
While Fabio Cannavaro will have been pleased to come away with three points from the game, he knows he has bigger problems.
Evergrande have acted swiftly to fine Alan, docking him 100,000 yuan, but that is unlikely to sway the authorities in clamping down on him.
Last year, the club acted after another game against Tianjin Quanjian, a 4-3 loss, and fined club captain Zheng Zhi 100,000 yuan for failing to get his players to shake hands with officials after the final whistle.
The club’s internal justice had little effect as the Chinese Football Association added four games and 40,000 yuan on top of this.
This season the CFA disciplinary committee has banned Tianjin Teda manager Uli Stielike for five games, apparently for giving the ref the thumbs down in his side’s loss to Henan Jianye on matchday two – one of a number of gestures including the thumbs up, middle finger and waving money that brings automatic suspensions.
This weekend has given them plenty to discuss when they next meet. Aside from Alan there were also sendings off for SIPG’s Odil Ahmedov and Changchun Yatai’s Yu Rui – the latter coming in the 96th minute of their loss to Guangzhou R&F, with the visitors bagging the winner from the spot just after.
Stray gameweek four observations
● Wu Lei scored again for SIPG to keep him two goals ahead of last season’s top scorer Eran Zahavi in the race for the golden boot. Presumably Alan has scored his last goal for some time.
● What a difference a striker makes for Shanghai Shenhua. Obafemi Martins returned with a hat-trick as the side beat Hebei CFFC 4-2. The expected title challenge from Hebei has not materialised.
● The Beijing derby that might not actually be a derby given Renhe’s nomadic past but was an easy win for the hosts.
● Evergrande did their best to lose but left Tianjin with three points. Ricardo Goulart missed from the spot after 15 minutes and then Alan was sent off. This is worrying for the rest of the league as they hope the stranglehold on the title ends.
●Bernd Schuster got off to a good start as Dalian Yifang manager. They got their first point of 2018 with a 1-1 draw, the goal coming from Yannick Carrasco.
●Cosmin Olaroiu’s start to life as Fabio Capello’s replacement at Jiangsu Suning saw them win 2-1 against Tianjin Teda. The first goal was Richmond Boakye’s first in the CSL.
● Tianjin Quanjian were the surprise package last year but they appear to be suffering from second season syndrome. Evergrande were there for the taking but instead they followed up losing the Tianjin derby with another loss.
● VAR is officially a mess. It’s only a matter of time when the fallout from it will dominate the disciplinary committee’s agenda.