Signing Didier Drogba has given Shanghai Shenhua fans hope that the side’s so far disastrous 2012 season can be turned round, writes Jake Newby. But we’ve been here before, of course – a mere three months ago in fact.
Nicolas Anelka’s much trumpeted arrival led many to predict that Shenhua might win the league even though they had endured their worst season in nearly a decade in 2011, finishing 11th in the 16-team Chinese Super League (CSL).
It took Anelka just 40 seconds to score his first goal for Shenhua on Chinese soil (a pre-season friendly against Hunan Xiangtao), an apparent sign of intent before he made his competitive debut against hated northern rivals Beijing Guoan, in the Chinese capital’s Workers Stadium. He scored against them too, celebrating by vaulting the advertising hoardings and running towards the small group of away fans who had travelled more than 1,000km to see Shenhua play on a Friday night.
The supporters, who had been made to wait in the ground for four hours before kick-off with no food or water, were enraptured.