There’s more to Pattaya than Russian gangsters, ladyboy muggers, and Germans throwing themselves off hotel balconies – they’ve got a T1 football team too, and here’s Pattaya Utd fan Robin Lennon with a look at what 2017 may hold in store for the Blue Dolphins…
How will your team fare in 2017?
New owners, a new manager and virtually an entire new team make this campaign likely to be as unpredictable as last season. From the depths of post season despair when it looked like we were Udon bound, there is a renewed sense of excitement and optimism associated with the ownership change. The new manager is a former Pattaya manager who has brought what is hopefully the cream of his Bec Tero crop with him, but it is the return of fan favourites Milan Bubalo, Wellington Priori and ” The Helicopter ” Lee that have got the fans buzzing. Throw in 4 Muang Thong loanees and a few stalwarts from last season, if the manager can get them to gel over this next month in pre-season training and we get a kinder opening fixture run than last year I would hope for a mid table finish. We did it under less favourable circumstances last campaign.
Who is your most exciting new signing?
Who doesn’t want to see Brazilian flair, so for me it’s Wellington Priori. I wasn’t around at the time but I keep replaying the you tube clip of his astonishing goal on his original debut for the Dolphins, it would be up there for a goal of the season anywhere in the world. Worth a watch.
Which departed 2016 players will you miss the most?
On my Brazilian theme again, it was sad but inevitable that we’d lose last season’s goal machine Junior Negro and midfield playmaker Antonio Pina. Throw Soony Saad into the mix and the trio on their day made us an exciting attacking team last season.
What changes would you like to see at your club?
It was my first season following Thai football and Pattaya United and I was shocked at the complete lack of commercial and retail marketing presence supporting the club, travelling to the other cities/clubs put these deficiencies into perspective. The biggest change has now happened, ownership, and I’m hoping that the family conglomerate who’ve now taken control will develop the successful promotional model you see at clubs like Buriram, Muang Thong, Chiang Rai etc. I’m sure there is significant potential to expand the fan base if the club is actively promoted and marketed.
Hopefully a bit of momentum behind the club might encourage a bigger travelling away support. There was some seriously impressive turnouts from other clubs at our stadium last season.
Which teams will finish at the top of T1?
If it’s not Pattaya United, hard to see past Muang Thong, ( sorry ), Bangkok United and Chiang Rai. I want to see the title winners rotate each year to keep interest growing in the league.
Which teams will go down to T2?
I’ll give the newcomers the benefit of the doubt since I haven’t seen them play. I’ll go for Navy who I thought would have gone down last season had it been completed, the new incarnation of Osotspa and (Udon) Bec Tero.
Which fixtures are you most looking forward to in 2017?
All away games but the shortest trip and local derby against Navy was a highlight of last season, they have a great pre-match live music and beer set-up. Unsurprisingly it was our biggest travelling support and the covered away section amplifies the noise level and is situated right next to the young Navy recruits packed singing section, bouncing atmosphere. Thai Port if your owner does selfies with the away fans.
Finally, if you could change one thing about Thai football, what would it be?
If it happens, the ability for another club to jump the promotion queue by buying and relocating another with no thought for the fan base of the acquired club.