Zero points. Zero goals. And a staggering thirteen goals conceded.
Dalian Yifang’s (Wanda’s) long-awaited return to the Chinese Super League has been about as bad as you can get. So bad in fact that the fans and board outed their former manager Ma Lin who has since been replaced by the experienced German and former Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster. Funnily enough, it will be Schuster’s first job in over four years, so quite the risk for Dalian you might say.
Let’s go back to right at the beginning of the season, just before Matchday One.
Things looked bright for Dalian Yifang (Wanda) as the Wanda Group took over Dalian Yifang, bringing in star household global names such as Yannick Carrasco, Nicolas Gaitan and Jose Fonte. The problem was as there was effectively no time left in the transfer window, their new owners didn’t have the chance to bring in better Chinese talent, and with no disrespect to the local players currently in Dalian’s squad, they are Chinese League One level at best. This has been pretty evident throughout the opening three matches against Shanghai SIPG, Guangzhou R&F and Beijing Guoan.
On Matchday One, Dalian Yifang travelled to Shanghai to face one of the giants of the Chinese game.
I’ll be fair on Dalian, the scoreline of 8-0 is slightly harsh but honestly, for the most part, it is a pretty accurate reflection of how things went. Just 20 seconds in, an irresponsive defence saw SIPG go ahead. From there, Dalian never got into it. By halftime it was 3-0, with Dalian having little to no chances. At halftime, nobody could have seen what was to come though. Five goals in the second half, three of which came from Wu Lei, saw Dalian lose 8-0.
On Matchday Two, they faced Guangzhou R&F. A much-improved performance even creating chances of their own going in at halftime even, 0-0. However, two goals in five minutes saw R&F take the three points.
On Matchday Three, Dalian had their first home game facing Beijing Guoan. An embarrassing home display, back to a performance of similar standard to the opening day of the season. A 3-0 mauling saw fans turn on former manager Ma Lin calling for him to leave. They got their wish as a few days later Ma Lin was replaced with Bernd Schuster.
A New Hope?
Maybe just maybe there is some hope for Dalian Yifang. As the past week or so has been an international break, Schuster has had time with players not on international duty, that being 99% of the squad. He maybe had time to install some new ideas into the side, a side that have lacked them over the past three games.
Training means nothing though, they’ll have to show the improvements on the field in the fourth game of the season when they go away to face fellow strugglers Henan Jianye on Saturday the 31st.