With one game to spare in the Chinese Super League season, Liaoning Whowin retained their top tier status thanks to a 2-1 win at fellow relegation candidates Dalian Aerbin. Liaoning’s Australian defender Josh Mitchell, speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo, explains what staying up meant to the club and its players.
“We had a bit of a celebration in the dressing room with the players, coaching staff and the big bosses; the mood was really great,” Mitchell said.
“Everyone was very relieved - we have been putting in a lot of hard work and when you do that it’s very good to reap the rewards.”
Liaoning had been in trouble after a disastrous mid-season saw them go on a run of 10 games without a win, six defeats conceding 18 goals in the process.
However, as Mitchell broke into the side following his June move to China, results improved just in time with five wins in the last eight games.
With a painful 6-0 loss to Guangzhou Evergrande amongst his results during the half season stint, it hasn’t been easy for the former Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory man.
“The work ethic of the whole team has been exceptional," the 30-year-old said.
"Our two central midfielders have been a huge reason for our positive results and they are our unsung heroes.
“It’s pleasing to see them working hard as a defender because it makes your job easier, it comes back to the training and they put in the work there.
“I spent the first three games on the bench when I came but the coach changed the whole back line after some poor results and myself with a few young guys managed to improve results.”
Liaoning Whowin, Asian Club Championship winners in 1990, moved their home games from the provincial capital of Shenyang to the city of Panjin for the 2014 season.
The move has not been ideal for the club and its players but they have adapted to the change.
“Playing our home games in Panjin is a bit different, it’s a two and a half hour drive by bus for us so they feel a bit like away games,” Mitchell said.
“We do manage to get plenty of supporters there who are very loud and supportive. Logistically it’s hard for the club, I think, but we’ve had some good results there so I can’t complain.”
In terms of what the future holds for Mitchell, that is more straight forward. Adapting hasn’t proved difficult and an extension is in the hands of his agent and the club.
“The CSL is different to the A-League, it’s not as physical - it’s more tactical and technical." he added.
"If you lose focus and discipline the individual brilliance of another team can beat you here.
“I’m happy to extend my contract with Liaoning, it’s up to the club but I’ve enjoyed it. I had no expectations for life in China and football here but it’s turned out great - a big positive in my life. I’ll leave it up to my agent and the club to see how it goes.”
Liaoning Whowin finish their 2014 season this weekend at home to Shanghai Shenhua, thankfully for Josh Mitchell with no pressure on them.comments