The Portlist 8: You Can Teach ’em to Type…

 

1 (5) Kim Sung Hwan

Well, well, well. He’s made it. Kim started off inconsistently, was plain poor for a while but recently has been Port’s best player in most of the key games, and is one of very few real leaders on the pitch. The emergence of Anon has given him the freedom to push further forward, and he’s added goals and assists to his (at the moment) excellent passing game. It’s just a shame that most of his teammates haven’t shown up to give him a hand.

2 (1) Sergio Suarez

Suarez has not quite been himself after returning from injury, and is now set for another spell on the sidelines. Nevertheless, the performances and results with him in the team are so much better than the performances and results without him that he simply has to be near the top. Suarez’ stats per game are second to none in the Port squad, but he has managed just 19 starts in 2018. That’s a real concern.

3 (2) Dragan Boskovic

Boskovic’s season looks like it’s going to be one excellent and prolific run of form sandwiched between two underwhelming and barren runs of form. Nevertheless, it’s hard to make an argument that many other players are more key to Port’s success this season than Dragan. His numbers are the best of any Port striker since Leandro (20 goals and 10 assists in all competitions), and if he plays well and scores another 6 or 7 goals, Port will likely finish third.

4 (4) Kevin Deeromram

One thing that has been more or less constant throughout all of the formation changes in recent weeks is how reliant Port are on Kevin. Without him the left hand side is a disaster. He has played left back, left wing back and left wing in recent weeks, and no matter what Jadet does with the team, you can be sure Kevin will be a key part of it. That was a peach of a cross on Sunday, too!

5 (3) David Rochela

El Capitan is starting to slip down the Portlist. It’s not just the own-goal on Wednesday – that could have happened to anyone – but rather the feeling that the Spaniard has been at fault for more goals of late than we’re used to seeing. If Port go on another spending spree this off-season then, unlike in previous seasons, surely other options in central defence are going to be explored.

6 (26) Anon Samakorn

The very big winner of this Portlist, and the biggest single jump yet. Boy did I underestimate this youngster when I dismissively dropped him in at number 26! To be fair I hadn’t seen him play yet. Having been in a Port B squad and been an unused substitute for the first team it looked like Anon was going to be making up the numbers until next season, but Jadet flipped the script on us and showed surprising faith in his new midfielder. Anon repaid that faith with smart, solid performances on the four occasions he has been called on. You’ll notice that he’s risen higher than Adisorn and Siwakorn, and should now be considered Port’s best Thai midfielder.

7 (6) Nitipong Selanon

Excellent assist for Port’s only goal on Wednesday, and an all-action display on Sunday, too. He’s back from suspension, and much like Kevin his stock can only have risen in the formation reshuffle. He’s most definitely Port’s best right full back and right wing back.

8 (7) Elias Dolah

Dolah has gone from strength to strength since he finally cemented his place in the team, and only drops a place because of the arrival of Anon. The errors have become less frequent, and he even picked out a 50 yard pass that Kim would have been proud of on Wednesday. I wouldn’t have thought that he’d have been within three places of his central defensive partner on the Portlist a few months ago, that’s for sure. Keep it up, big fella!

9 (9) Rattanai Songsangchan

A sustained run of fitness has, as we thought, led to Rattanai getting back to something like his best form. There are still nagging issues though, like communication with the centre backs and distribution, which prevent him rising higher for now. Oh, and he’s only gone and got injured again!

10 (11) Pakorn Prempak

Pakorn is still in the first XI, but only because Nurul is injured, Bodin isn’t productive enough and the 5-3-2 experiment seems to have ended in failure. He looked rubbish in the first half on Wednesday when he was playing more centrally, but Port will be going back to his and Jadet’s favoured 4-2-3-1 for the rest of the season, meaning that Pakorn will keep grinding out the assists and popping up with the odd goal form the right wing. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like Pakorn is lazier now than he’s ever been for Port, and that’s saying something. With his ability and productivity he should be at number 5 or higher at all times, but with the current level of effort and teamwork, I just can’t bring myself to put him above hard workers like Kevin, Nitipong, Anon and Dolah. Cracking free kick on Sunday, though. Pick that out!

11 (10) Siwakorn Jakkuprasart

He’s still hanging in there in the first XI, but only just, based on the fact that he offers more creatively than the other midfield options, although this doesn’t translate in to goals or assists nearly enough. He certainly isn’t in there because of his shooting, although he unleashed a surprisingly threatening attempt on the Buriram goal on Wednesday.

12 (8) Adisorn Daeng-rueng

He’s flying up and down the Portlist much as he flew up and down Port’s right flank against Bangkok United, showing his versatility by playing right wing back in Nitipong’s absence. Unfortunately he had the same problem on the flank that he has through the middle: the fact that he’s just not a very good footballer. I’m reminded of a quote from Charlie Wilson’s War about hiring secretaries: “You can teach ‘em to type, but you can’t teach ‘em to have big tits.” Adisorn is an enthusiastic typist, but doesn’t and never will have the tits to be Port’s first choice defensive midfielder, although he will continue to be a crucial squad player. Currently out for roughly a month with an unspecified injury.

13 (13) Todsapol Lated

Had an absolute shocker on Wednesday. Lost his marker, who scored from the early corner, then less than a minute later panicked after an admittedly poor ball from Kim and gave Buriram an easy second goal which turned out to be decisive. Most definitely third choice centre back, which after Port return to 4-2-3-1 means a place back on the bench.

14 (14) Worawut Srisupha

Had been getting regular games with Port still in the cups, but Rattanai was called on when things got serious. Will only see more action if Rattanai’s injury keeps him out until after the break.

15 (12) Bodin Phala

The more Bodin continues to look promising but produce nothing the more places he will lose. Has either started or been subbed on in almost every single game, but rarely makes a decisive difference.

16 (16) Arthit Butjinda

Just when you’d forgotten about him after a few weeks on the sidelines, Arthit showed us what we’d been missing in his absence. Decent flick-ons and hold up play with the odd horrific touch thrown in, and a completely unpredictable mash-up of the good, the bad and ugly in front of goal. He was desperately unlucky not to get Port back in tot he game with a textbook striker’s finish with his weaker foot on Wednesday, but was denied by the superb Siwarak, T1 player of the month for July.

17 (18) Panpanpong Pinkong

He’s not gaining a place because he’s any good, just because with Kevin getting significant game-time at left wing in recent weeks, he occasionally slots in at left back. Now injured, but should be back by the end of the break.

18 (15) Terens Puhiri

Only just hanging on to a place in the matchday squad right now. It’s been a while since Flash has touched the ball. Boooo.

19 (17) Chakrit Rawanprakone

His performance at right wing back looked almost like a left winger playing in a completely alien defensive position. Funny, that. His abysmal finish against Bangkok United betrays a player who is just not of the required caliber.

20 (19) Worawut Namvech

Currently in the Thailand under 23 Asian Games squad, where he can expect to get a whole lot more action than he has done in 2018 for Port. I expect that he’ll return to parent club Chiang Rai without registering another competitive minute of Port action.

21 (21) Nurul Sriyankem

We’ve really missed his pace and directness. Will hopefully be fit by the time the August break is mercifully over with.

22 (20) Somprasong Promsorn

Needs a decent run-out to show off his skills. He brought out some pretty tidy touches during the half time kick-about on Wednesday, but that’s just about all I have to go on for now!

23 (23) Sammy Slot

He’s consistently making match day squads at the moment, but hasn’t been given the chance to show us what he can do yet.

24 (22) Pummared Kladkleep

A move back to the second or third tier is the only thing that is going to get Pummared back on the pitch. There are simply too many better midfielders at Port.

25 (29) Jetjinn Sriprach

With Panpanpong injured he was on the bench on Sunday. How exciting!

26 (24) Watchara Buathong

There is absolutely nothing interesting going on in the world of Watchara nowadays, so here’s a video of one of his raps. W-Hot in da house!

27 (25) Chanayut Jejue

Back in the Port B squad after Arthit’s return to fitness and Sammy Slot’s arrival.

28 (27) Sarawin Phakdeekan

Likewise back with Port B after the defensive crisis abated.

29 (28) Chaowala Sriarwut

I’ve opened a couple of the pretty awful Facebook live feeds showing recent Port B games and seen poor old central midfielder Chaowala – Port B’s top scorer – playing left back. What a waste.

30 (RE) Danudet Treemongkonchok

Port B’s captain scored a rare goal in T4 on the weekend. He’s dispensed with the man bun too, which helps.

31 (30) Anipong Kijkam

If only I had a rap by Port’s fourth choice goalkeeper to show you. Then again, Anipong actually plays football every now and then so I guess he has better things to do!

99 (99) Tana Chanabut

 

 

Now, I may be the sort of person who would go in search of a picture of a large erect pink cock in order to juxtapose it with a picture of Tana in his lovely pink shirt for Lolz, but in this case the photo comparison comes from the striker’s own Facebook page. You could at least try and make it hard for us. Erm, wait, no, I didn’t mean like that…

 

This Is The End: Bangkok United 2-1 Port FC, Port FC 1-3 Buriram United

 

It’s the hope that kills you isn’t it? I mean I’m a simple man with simple, everyday hopes; I hope the weather’s decent today, I hope there isn’t a hair in my takeaway, I hope they have proper toilets and not one of those squat jobs… But when it comes to football those hopes are elevated to something much, much bigger; glory and the sweet taste of victory against all comers. Maybe it’s the adrenaline mixed with testosterone and alcohol but pragmatism and rationality are quickly discarded when it comes to footy.

Last Sunday the Spider Ming Express, sponsored by Blend 285, zipped up to The Thammasat University Stadium with a group of supporters buoyant that maybe, just maybe, we can get a result against our bogey team which would take us level on points and keep the impossible dream alive. Jadet shuffled the pack and went for a back 3 with Adisorn (13) at RB, kept new boy Anon (20) in the XI and dropped the seemingly undroppable Pakorn (7); clearly he had a game plan in mind.

 

 

The game plan worked a charm in the first half and in the opening minutes Port took the lead; a well worked corner was flicked on by Suarez (5) and found Boskovic (23) unmarked at the far post for a simple header. Cue pandemonium in the away end followed by a nerve-shredding, backs-to-the-wall 40 minutes with Port continually on the defensive and rarely pressing forward. Things got better as we purchased cans of Leo in the car park when Bangkok were reduced to 10 men with Wanchai (24) receiving his marching orders for bringing down Kim (8). The Leo tasted even sweeter now so surely this was our time?

 

 

WRONG. Port held on like a boxer taking a Tyson-level beating against the ropes until the 82nd minute when Sumanya (11) drove into the box and his shot got a slight deflection off Rochela (2). Then, as the minutes ran down, we had a rare attack and worked the ball well into the box for Kim to lay the ball off to Chakrit (9). The ball was asking to be spanked into the net but what followed was the turning point of everything; a shot so woeful you would pull clumps of hair out of your head and smash your pint glass on the floor (don’t worry, it’s plastic and only backwash left). Then the gut punch; United snatched a winner with the final kick of the game; a screamer from Pokklaw (10). It’s a rare moment when the Port faithful are silenced but as I watched the players lie dejected on the ground there was no sound from the away end, just the distant cheering of United supporters, then out poured the screaming and frustration and finally the final whistle. There is no feeling quite like it as you walk out of the stadium covered in drizzle and disappointment.

Although it felt sickening I personally couldn’t complain that much about the performance; Jadet gave them a game plan that they stuck to for 80 minutes but then the substitutions altered the team shape and fatigue really set in while chasing a winner. The better team won with their quality and perseverance, and anyway we’ve got a cup tie against the champions on Wednesday and we’re going to give them hell and propel ourselves into the semi-finals right?

 

 

WRONG. DEAD WRONG. The first half at The PAT was Chainat, Air Force and Police all rolled into one at home. It was the constant errors and mistakes we talk about in The Sandpit and on Facebook week in week out. It was the fucking pits so let’s get this over with. After the opening exchanges Buriram won a corner in the 15th minute and their tactic was to crowd the goal line to cause confusion amongst our defenders. The corner was whipped in and Rattanai (17) scrambled to push it against the crossbar for another. The second was deadly; Pansa (3) darted off the line to steer a header into the far side of the goal unmarked. Less than a minute later Buriram had doubled their led; Todsapol (6) was robbed by the Brazilian Osvaldo (17) who sprinted into the box and squared it to Supachai (9) for an easy tap in. 2 minutes and 2 goals but worse was to come before half time; a long ball from Tunez (5) reached Diogo (40) with Dolah (4) struggling to keep up. Rochela came across to clear but inexplicably sent the ball into his own net. I really don’t want to write any more about this.

There was a brief fightback in the second half and Port grabbed a goal back by playing some decent football, ending with Nitipong (34) playing a great through ball to Pakorn who finished past Siwarak (1). Port then had a sustained 10 minute period of attacking pressure with the substitute Artit (29) showing some endeavour and Boskovic continually testing the Buriram defense, as well as geeing up the crowd, but there was no end product and our opponents regained control and closed out the game. Let’s face facts; we were never really in the game and we shot ourselves in the foot. Twice.

So now there needs to be questions asked. Why did this go so badly wrong? What exactly were the tactics and were the players aware of their roles? Why didn’t some of you turn up (Siwakorn (16), Rochela, Kevin (97) – I’m looking at you)? An hour after the match I had already received my first “Jadet out” text but looking at the squad it’s clear some of the players aren’t good enough and there is no strength in depth. Training, fitness and tactics certainly need to improve as well. Buriram set a very high standard and we are currently a distant 3rd from them in the league but will Madame Pang and her underlings execute a real plan for next season and just carry on as we are?

Yes, it sucks to be a Port fan today and maybe as fans we have been too naive about the real prospects of our team but guess what? There’s another game against the champions on Sunday and mathematically we can still win the league (stop sniggering at the back) or at least affect the championship race. There’s also pride to play for and the chance to finish above The Scum so I guess there’s always hope right?

 

Man of the Matches – Kim Sung-Hwan

 

 

Not many candidates here so I’m giving it to someone whose form has improved, gave maximum effort in both games and, most importantly, cared. Dolah and Bosko showed signs as well but Kim was the one who showed it most. This photo of him after the United game speaks volumes about what it meant to him, If only he spoke Thai; he would be handing out a few red hot bollockings right now.

 

Dear Jadet: This Is How You Beat Buriram

 

Dear Jadet

I would like to begin by congratulating you on your excellent and highly successful campaign thus far. Unfortunately, you are soon set to face the even more excellent and highly successful Buriram United, who currently sit atop of the Thai League table and may constitute the toughest opposition you have faced this season.

Despite how well the side have done this season, it may be time to change your winning formula and introduce a new, alien concept into your side’s game – tactics. Unfortunately, the man most equipped to give you a lesson on said alien concept, Mano Polking, is currently too busy mastering the art of total football, so we are going to have to settle for the next best thing.

Mind you, I have no idea how far down the list of “next best things” a 17-year-old football ‘journalist’ is, but it’s all we’ve got.

Firstly, it is important to be aware of how Buriram United set up. While they have played two different formations under the management of Montenegrin coach Bozidar Bandovic, they effectively operate as one ‘system.’ In action, we expect Buriram United to appear like this:

 

 

Now, in order to counter this, my suggestions are extremely high-risk, so proceed with caution. Buriram United are conditioned to deal with deep-lying defensive structures, as it is the preferred method of most of their opposition in this division. Thus, the best way to defeat the Thunder Castle is to buck the trend and spring them with a surprise.

Using the raucous atmosphere and favorable pitch dimensions at the PAT Stadium, it appears possible to “press” Buriram with enough intensity to force errors and open up spaces to score, while simultaneously preventing them from scoring themselves.

In order to do this, Port should attempt to match Buriram’s basic system, with some minor alterations, in a manner similar to this:

 

 

In order to execute their system, the Thunder Castle need width coming from the full-backs in order to stretch the play, with two of either Korrakot Wiriayudomsiri, Narubadin Weerawatnodom and Sasalak Haiprakhon needed to play high and wide in order to give their attackers room to operate.

However, with the presence of Kevin (97) on the left, who has been one of the league’s strongest players this season, Port may have an ace up their sleeve. His excellent recovery pace will allow him to occupy aggressive starting positions, forcing Buriram right-sided player to keep one eye open defensively, effectively handicapping his attacking potential. This should leave their forward three isolated, and thus easier to contain for the defensive line, with the help of Kim Sung-Hwan and Siwakorn.

Secondly, you may notice Nitipong (34) placed at center-back as opposed to right-back. This is a measure mainly to contend with the pace of Diogo Luis Santo, by providing a player that can successfully keep up with the Brazilian and prevent long through-balls from catching the Port defense out when they come forward.

Additionally, Buriram can sometimes find themselves short-staffed in midfield, which is usually patrolled by only two players, who are primarily creative outlets. Cutting these supply lines is crucial, and a far easier prospect than closing down a mobile 3-man frontline.

The midfield of Kim Sung-Hwan, Siwakorn and Suarez (5) should outnumber the defending Champions in the middle of the park, with Boskovic likely to be partnered with Bodin in the absence of Nurul up top.

Ceding possession to Buriram’s defensive players will hopefully expose their lack of creativity, and increasing the risk of the Thunder Castle making a decisive mistake. The ferocity and intensity of the press should be most in midfield, creating “bottlenecks” in the areas where Buriram have the fewest players.

This serves as both a defensive and an offensive measure; done properly, it allows Port to pick up the ball in dangerous areas and outnumber Buriram with minimal defensive risk. The key to Port’s attack is allowing Kevin to run at the left center back and getting Nurul or Boskovic in one-on-one positions in the final third.

Port have shown that they have the talent, support and belief to mix it with the best – and, on occasion, come out on top. As you prepare to face Buriram United twice in the span of five days, it is the ideal time for this hugely talented squad to reach their peak performance levels. I hope my humble suggestions have offered some insight into how this can be made possible.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Gian