Coach Chu Đình Nghiêm has revitalised Hai Phong. Photo bongda24h.vn
A change of scenery can do wonders for anyone.
Just look at Unai Emery. Maligned for his failures at PSG and Arsenal, he’s now something of a cult hero at Villareal for leading the tiny Spanish side to a Europa League triumph.
It’s hard to say what it is about moving on to pastures new that can revitalise a coach’s career, but whatever it is, it looks like it’s underway in Hải Phòng.
Coach Chu Đình Nghiêm led Ha Noi FC for five years and lifted three V.League 1 titles in that time, but by the end of his tenure things had decidedly gotten stale.
Nghiêm is now running the show at Hải Phòng, and with his side top of the table at this early stage of the season, life by the sea is anything but stale.
The boys from the northern port city defeated Sai Gon FC 3-1 over the weekend and while no one was tipping them in pre-season to top the pile by season end, they look like genuine contenders.
It's not just Nghiêm benefiting from the change of scenery though, as he's brought in some experienced V.League campaigners that have formed the core of his side.
With Rimario Gordon, Moses Oloya, Bùi Tiến Dũng and Nguyễn Hải Huy to call upon, Nghiêm's side has bags of experience and nous.
Gordon is a proven goal scorer at this level, while Oloya and Huy are a pair of solid if unspectacular midfielders that can be relied on to put in a shift and Dũng (formerly of Đà Nẵng) is a young but experienced professional.
Perhaps the best part of Hải Phòng doing well though is the joy it must be bringing their long-suffering fans.
They haven't enjoyed a league title since 1970 and have even flirted with relegation in recent years, and yet they're still some of the league's most passionate fans.
What best illustrates the passion of the Hải Phòng fans is how security around Hàng Đẫy Stadium ramps up when they visit Hà Nội for a match, not that they bring any real trouble.
The metal scanners and increased police presence speak (to my slightly old school mind) to how seriously Hải Phòng folk take their football, so for me, few fan bases deserve success more than they do.
Lucky for them they have Chu Đình Nghiêm, an old dog learning some new tricks thanks to his change of scenery. VNS