Port’s underwhelming transfer window came to a close yesterday with three exits and no arrivals. Young midfielder Tatchanon (39) has gone on loan to Chonburi, while Pinyo (21) has made the temporary switch to Prachuap in T2. It seems to be a sensible move for Pinyo, who because of injury has not played a single league minute in a year and a half at Port, but sending Tatchanon to Chonburi, where he will surely struggle for first team football, seems like a head-scratcher. Suchon (11) is the final departure, moving permanently to Nongbua Pitchaya in the lower reaches of T2.
This may surprise some readers, but despite the frustrated tone of some of my recent Transfer Talks and the criticism which I have been doling out, in a broader context I don’t think Port have had a bad window. The heightened expectations after the arrival of Zico may have made us feel entitled to a slew of national team signings, but in reality we are still a mid-table team with mid-table ambitions who have made some mid-table signings on a mid-table budget. Admittedly, we have also made some very pointless signings who will never justify the wages being paid to them, and whilst that situation is far from ideal, it’s also not the end of the world. The club is where it wanted to be, and there is no reason to think that will change drastically in the second half of the season. If it turns out that Port have been punching above their weight and slip a few places down the table, then it won’t be down to Port having a weakened squad, but luck and the law of averages.
Have other teams improved significantly? No, the same players that were in Thai football are still here. Some decent foreign players have come in, and some have moved on. Thai players are the same as they’ve always been, just distributed slightly differently throughout the league. What could be significant is the new coaching regime at Port. If, as we expect, the team Zico has brought with him takes a more professional approach to training and preparation then Port will improve. It did seem that despite Jadet’s shortcomings he was doing a good job with what he had at his disposal, but do we think Zico is incapable of producing the same results? In the short term maybe or maybe not, but in the long term Port have improved their prospects markedly in my eyes.
Here’s my assessment of how Port’s transfers have changed the state of the squad.
Depth in Goal
Port now have 3 good options in goal, where before we had two good options and some bloke who we picked up from the street because he happened to have a pair of gloves.
Stronger at the Back
In defence, Port dropped the ball by letting Hansson go but picked up Pravinwat (55) on loan from Bangkok Glass, who has come straight in to the first team and made some encouraging performances. As a former national team charge of Zico, he also has experience playing in a back 3.
At left back, Yossawat (28) and Jetjinn (51) replaced Piyachart (23) and Suchon (11). Two better, younger full-backs who with any luck will be Port’s left back options for years to come.
Same Old in Midfield, For Now
Whilst there have been a few arrivals and departures in midfield, Zico’s primary options are largely unchanged. Wanchalerm (40) and Tatchanon (39) have been replaced by Pummared (41) and Narakorn (29), which I think is crazy, but neither was getting any game-time in the first place. For reasons unbeknownst to me, they were not favoured, so it makes more sense that they have moved on. In the short term Port’s midfield options ultimately remain pretty much unchanged, although in the long term they are surely reduced.
Rehabilitation Up Front
Port’s forward options have also not really changed, which in itself is a travesty considering the circumstances, but a couple of players seem to have been rehabilitated in to the squad. Both Suarez (5) and Kaludjerovic (10) were not being picked for one reason or another, but both played and scored in their first start under Zico. We can argue all day long (and I bloody well have) about who should have come and gone in the transfer window, but the reality is that we’re back where we started in the first half of the season, and that fired us in to the top half of the table.
Like him or not, Kalu is an option to bring on when a goal is needed. Suarez is an occasionally excellent player that is capable of changing the course of Port’s season if he can produce his best form week in week out. Ultimately, Port are better off being able to pick these two than not. Remember, at the end of the first half of the season Jadet wouldn’t even put them in the matchday squad.
Yossawat Montha (Buriram Utd)
Jetjinn Sriprach (Thai Honda)
Narakorn Khana (BBCU)
Pummared Kladkleep (BBCU)
Pravinwat Boonyong (loan, Bangkok Glass)
Watchara Buathong (returning from loan, BBCU)
Wanchalerm Yingyong (loan ended, Prachuap)
Niran Hansson (Police Tero)
Weera Koedpudsa (Nakhon Ratchasima)
Rodrigo Maranhao (Sukhothai)
Suchon Sa-nguandee (Nongbua Pitchaya)
Piyachart Tamaphan (loan, Ubon UMT)
Pinyo Inpinit (loan, Prachuap)
Tatchanon Nakarawong (loan, Chonburi)