Hangzhou Squad Review – 2014

After a pretty light opening to the story I felt the need to provide more of an in depth look at the squad that led us to a surprising 4th place finish and FA Cup final in the first season of the save.

Like I explained in the previous post we originally were tipped to go down at the start of the season, and first impressions weren’t great. The squad was young and lacking in quality everywhere except up top (thanks to 3 foreign players- great for a C & C). Here are the transfers I made during the first season:


As you can see, we had a bit of money to play with. I’ll go through the signings as I review the squad. Going in the opposite direction were two foreign players (Son Dae-Ho & Luka Zinko) along with Wang Song. Song left because he was 30 and I had youngsters who could fill his boots. Finally, Fan Xiaodong left in January because he wasn’t happy with the minutes he was getting.

Squad Review

Just before I review the players I should quickly show you the system we used:


As you can see it is in a basic 442 shape. I was going to do a whole tactic review of it because of the great results we were getting, but as I am anticipating a change in shape next year I didn’t see much point. I won’t go into too much depth but if you’d like some more information on it it is loosely based on this analysis I read on Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth team. Now for you to meet the heroes of 2014.


My first choice goalkeeper for the season was Gu Chao. Rated as a good player for most Super League sides he gave steady performances throughout the season. One outstanding aspect to his game was his penalty saving ability. I can’t seem to find the stat anywhere but I am sure it was extremely close to half. Perhaps I should use him in a Tim Krul-esque way for the national team?

gu chao


I am just going to provide screenshots for my first choice defenders, but obviously if you would like to see any others feel free to ask.

At left back we had Mi Haolun, an attacking left back who joined mid way through the season from Shandong. At only 21 he still has plenty of room for growth and he performed pretty well in the complete wing back position. He came with me and the U23’s to the Asian games, achieving an average rating of 7.4 in his 4 games.

mi haolun

The first of my centre backs, and arguably the most promising player at the club, is Shi Ke. At the age of 21 he played 22 matches in the Super League, with an average rating of 7.01. Like Haolun, he came with me to the Asian games and performed decently. His absence coincided with a drop in form at domestic level, which shows his importance at such a young age. Hopefully he will continue to develop and get increased game time for the national team.

shi ke

Paired with Shi Ke at centre back was fellow youngster Zhao Yuhao, At the same age as Ke, he is not quite as good but he definitely has potential. Averaging just below 7 per game he will need to cut down on his mistakes (51 in 22 games). However, it must also be remembered that these two youngsters were often left unprotected because of the way we played.

zhao yuhao

Finally to complete the defence, was right back Zhao Honglüè a preseason signing A’erbin for 140k. Attributes wise he doesn’t look particularly special, but as an attacking right back he flourished, racking up 11 assists in the Super League. I’m not sure how much growth he has in him, but he is likely to continue in the right back berth next season.

Zhao Honglue

Other defenders included:

  • Cao Haiquing & Wang Lin – both can play either side of defence and acted as back up.
  • Wu Wei & Cao Xuan – back up centre backs, although Xuan played far more games.



On the left of my midfield was bright prospect Feng Gang. His excellent performances led him to be named as Chinese Young Player of the Year. Proficient with both feet, Feng often caused trouble coming inside from the left and ended the Super League season with 7 goals and 8 assists. One of my most consistent players he racked up a season average rating of 7.32. More of the same next season please.

feng gang

On the left of my central midfield pairing was Li Hang, a 100k signing at the start of the season. Technically very strong, he operated as quite a limited deep lying playmaker. He is probably one of my favourite players of the first season because of his consistency and also as he pretty much dragged the team through games at times when we had injuries and players at the Asian games. At 25 he still has plenty of games ahead of him at Hangzhou.

li hanf

Paired with Li Hang was 21 year old Chen Zhongliú. For a player with such potential I was quite disappointed with Chen this year, although his season was disrupted by injury a lot, only managing 18 games in the season. Hopefully next year he can kick on and get closer to a place in the national team.


The final piece to my midfield quartet was the ever dependable Luo Jing. At just 21 his consistency is admirable, and he flourished in the narrow position he was deployed. Not blessed with the best pace, his vision and intelligent passing and dribbling led him to 3 goals and 7 assists in the Super League, along with a season average rating of 7.08. Next year will be a year of change for Luo however…

lui jing

Other midfielders included:

  • Zhao Xuri – an experienced CM brought in on loan from Guangzhou to add depth
  • Ruan Yang- deputised on the left to Feng Gang, another player with potential and always performed well when called upon
  • Xu Xin- brought in on a free from Atletico Madrid (!), next year should see him get far more game time. Watch this space.


First up, with the least game time, is Gilberto. He was more of a backup to the other two and even slotted into midfield occasionally. 6 goals and 7 assists wasn’t a particularly great return from 21(12) appearances.


Filling the false nine position in my team was David Claude Angan. At the start of the year I attempted to sell Angan has I worried that all my foreign players were strikers, however, no one came in for him and he never forgave me. Not particularly consistent (probably cos he didn’t like me), he did provide some moments of  genius. I occasionally used him in wide positions, but wherever he played I always utilised his excellent dribbling which Super League teams could not handle. 7 goals and 9 assists pretty much reflects his season, perhaps if I hadn’t pissed him off it would have been far higher.


And finally, Chinese Super League Golden Boot winner, Anselmo Ramon. On loan from Cruzeiro, Anselmo was simply far to good for the league (although he did tail off toward the end of the season). However, 29 goals and 6 assists from 27 Super League games is not to be sniffed at. A particular highlight was his second half hat trick against Shandong to turn the game around. If it weren’t for fellow countryman Vagner Love he surely would have been China player of the year.


Other strikers:

  • Xie Pengfei- a young Chinese striker with decent potential, should go on to get a lot more than 3(8) appearances in the Super League this year. Two goals and an assist will build confidence though.

Looking forward

During my first season with Hangzhou I have noticed that the player movements within the Super League is vast. For that reason I will try to keep my squad together as much as possible. However, all 3 of my foreign players are out of contract this year. To begin with this worried me, but after reading around I realised foreign players weren’t any use to me in a C & C save. For this reason I won’t be trying to sign any of them on for next season, which means there will be far more wages to bring in some young Chinese talent to develop.

Next up is probably going to be a report on the Asian Cup, my first tournament with the national team. Hope to see you there! Again, feedback would be wonderful so feel free to leave a comment or contact me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

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