Suarez, Nebihi & the Maranhao Scale


A few weeks ago I came up with the concept of the Maranhao Scale – a measure by which all future Port transfer fuck-ups will be judged, with the 2017 Maranhao/Kaludjerovic debacle earning a maximum fuck-up factor of 10, and other transfer shenanigans rated as follows:

Signing lots of new players for Gary Stevens then firing him before he can use them: 9

Serginho arriving at Port, running over & killing a pedestrian (allegedly), & buggering off back to Brazil pretty damn sharpish: 8

Signing Mathias Jadue on an 18-month deal and never registering him: 7

Manucharyan running away from Ratchaburi on the eve of the 2016 season, turning up at Port, then disappearing: 7

Loaning out Tatchanon for half a season when we don’t have any decent DMs: 6

…and so on.

This time round, Port’s transfer business has been decidedly efficient, timely and, it has to be said, spectacular – the Maranhao Scale has barely been mentioned in recent weeks as Port have signed up some of T1’s top players and built a side that many feel can mount a genuine title challenge.

But in the last week or so the needle has begun twitching, as Sergio Suarez and Bajram Nebihi square off over the last foreigner slot. One source told us that Port signed Nebihi believing he was a striker, and were somewhat surprised when, after putting pen to paper, he told them what everybody in Thailand – apart from, it seems, Port’s management team – has known for a long time: that he’s actually a midfielder. Another source told us that Nebihi arrived at Port believing he was filling the final foreigner slot, only to get a shock when informed that he’d be expected to compete for his job with the incumbent Sergio Suarez, last season’s second-highest scorer.

On the one hand you can see this as Port merely hedging their bets and making sure they start the season with a good foreign AM: on the other, you have the club legally bound to lose one quality player before the season starts; you have Suarez, who might reasonably think he’d done enough to guarantee his place for 2018, pissed off at the club signing a potential repacement; and you have Nebihi, thinking he’d joined Port as one its big swinging foreign dicks, finding out he has to sing for his supper. Right now it’s only a 1 or 2 on the Maranhao Scale but the potential is there for the needle to go into the red.

So who is going to get the nod? It’s a tough one. I’m not Suarez’ biggest fan – it took him half a season to get used to playing at T1 level, he was very inconsistent, and he has a tendency to get distracted on the pitch by running battles with opponents and referees; but he was arguably Port’s best player in the second half of the season and his tally of 13 goals in all competitions was very impressive. Nebihi scored more T1 goals last season, is physically more imposing, and is more of an attacking threat; yet he spent a lot of the second half of the season on the bench and the Ubon fans we’ve spoken to weren’t exactly heartbroken to see him leave.

It all comes down to what Port really need. Nebihi is very much an attacking midfielder, and as such has plenty of competition for his place from the likes of Bodin, and also Pakorn & Nurul who can play in his position. Suarez, whilst he spent much of 2017 shoehorned into an AM role, is happiest in central midfield, where Port have yellow card collector Siwakorn and…not much else. On that basis, and on the basis that he’s a known quantity, Suarez should probably get the nod. But on the basis of Nebihi being a strapping 6’4″ brick shithouse who can more easily fill in for Boskovic as a backup striker if needed, his slightly superior T1 goal record last season, and the fact that Jadet’s sole tactic involves putting in crosses to a big striker (even when no big striker exists) my money is on Nebihi being given half a season to prove himself whilst Suarez either gets loaned out or sits on the bench giving the burly German that smouldering Latin glare that can tighten referee sphincters from 20 metres away.

But whoever gets picked, it’s a nice dilemma for the club to have, and there’s no doubt Port are going to be a lot of fun to watch next season, both on and off the hallowed PAT turf.



Tim Russell

Tim Russell

The founder and editor of The Sandpit, Tim has been in SE Asia since 2003 and in Bangkok since 2012, where he runs a travel tech business. Tim has followed Port FC since 2014, and is also a fan of his hometown club Coventry City, and French club AS St-Etienne. He has written for the likes of Football365,, NME and The Quietus, and is a regular contributor to God Is In the TV. He's a keen photographer and his work can be seen on his website.

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    • Tim Russell
      Tim Russell says:

      I think we’ve given him more MOTM awards last season than any other player, apart perhaps from…Pakorn. Great player on his day I agree but for me not in the same league as Nebihi.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Assuming that Tana does eventually move on and one of Suarez and Nebihi also don’t make the cut, that will leave Port with exactly 25 players, all of whom you can find about at our freshly updated Squad page. For more on which one of Port’s attacking midfielders is likely to make the cut, and which one will get the chop, you can find Tim’s analysis here. […]

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