Shanghai Shenhua midfielder Cao Yunding has called on fans not to blame Carlos Tevez for his side’s dreadful form.
Shenhua were thrashed 6-1 by Shanghai SIPG in Saturday’s derby match, meaning they have now lost five games in a row in the Chinese Super League.
Tevez, who reportedly earns £615,000 a week, scored his side’s only goal in the defeat but has nonetheless attracted huge criticism for his performances and attitude.
The 33-year-old has been booed by fans and warned to lose weight by head coach Wu Jingui, who replaced Gustavo Poyet last week after the former Chelsea man resigned.
Tevez’s form has been in stark contrast to Hulk, who scored twice and set up another in Saturday’s win and now has 20 goals this season.
Cao admits the Brazilian is the best foreign player in the top flight at present but insists Tevez should not have to shoulder the responsibility for Shenhua’s form alone.
In an open letter to supporters, the China international said: “The 6-1 is of our own making. A run of five straight defeats is also of our own making.
“The fans are not wrong: it is us, not anybody else, who are sullying this Shenhua jersey and the badge on our chest.
“I feel gutted. I have no choice but to admit that Hulk is the best foreign player in the CSL, that he is beyond comparison to others in his ability and physical quality, and that SIPG are way stronger than us. We were completely outperformed and deserved to lose.
“These days, everybody is abusing [deputy general manager] Zhou Jun and [president] Wu Xiaohui because they are guilty of bringing in Tevez.
“To be fair, we should not pin all the blame on the poor form of Tevez. If a team is doing well just because of one single great player, it won’t last long. Even Hulk went through a rough patch last season.
“Fans have the right to question anybody they want to but, as players, we have to realise the contribution made by the board. We need to ask ourselves for self-examination. We must shoulder our due responsibility.”