Port’s 2-0 defeat at Chiang Rai on Wednesday night was, despite the encouraging performance and the mitigating factor of some absurd refereeing, sadly predictable. The team is in freefall, with no win since 25 July (and you have to go even further back, to 21 July, for the last league win), just 2 wins in the last 11 games, and no clean sheet in 8 games. Port have gone from battling Bangkok Utd for 2nd place to struggling to stay in the top 6, and any thoughts of a 2019 AFC place have long since been forgotten.
It’s the first real crisis of the Jadet era. When Sir Det took over from Wada in June 2016, Port’s promotion bid had hit a bit of a wobble; Sir Det steadied the ship and took Port back to T1, along with a League Cup semi-final along the way. And last year’s mid-season blip came during the bizarre Zico Experiment – after Jadet was given back the reins, Port’s form magically recovered, as did Det’s reputation.
This time however, the buck stops at Jadet’s door, as a team that won 12 out of 14 games earlier in the season, playing some magnificently swaggering attacking football, suddenly looks lost, demoralised and tactically clueless. Det’s refusal to rotate his squad, particularly at time when there are two games per week, is leading to tired legs, and the fact that there are clearly certain players who know they are undroppable, however poor their form or their level of commitment, is apparently causing some dissent amongst fringe players who feel – quite rightly – that they deserve more game time. Several players seem uninterested or frustrated, a couple have visibly regressed in recent weeks, and the tactics, such as they are, are no longer working. The dressing room appears to have been lost, and with a home game against a resurgent Nakhon Ratchasima coming up tomorrow, Det’s stock could sink even further by the end of the weekend.
The word from Port is that, whilst Jadet’s contract is up in October, they are planning to retain his services for 2019. Other sources suggest October will see him given a pat on the back & a handshake and sent on his way, possibly to the Thailand U23 job he subtly applied for recently. Defeat to Korat tomorrow may mean he may not even see out September.
Personally I think it most likely that Det will be allowed to see out his contract and then allowed to leave come the end of the season, which would be an acceptable solution all round. He remains popular with the fans, certainly the Thai fans at least, has done a very solid job during his 2+ years at the PAT, and deserves a warm & affectionate send-off when he does eventually leave. And maybe, given the managerial chaos that has afflicted numerous T1 clubs this season, we should possibly be careful what we wish for – there are few Thai coaches of Jadet’s stature available, and the consensus is that no foreign coach, even one well-versed in the arcane world of Thai football, could work in Port’s current management structure.
As it is, a season that once promised so much looks like fizzling out into mid-table mediocrity as the coach no longer seems able to get the best out of the most talented set of players the club has ever assembled, and with the club’s stated target of a top 5 finish now in considerable doubt, we’ll highly likely be seeing a new man on the PAT bench in 2019.