Port’s Non-Starter XI

 

After Port’s mid-season, featuring a spate of off-the-wall signings, I thought I’d try and cobble together a team of players who now could feasibly fail to register a single minute of T1 action between them in the rest of 2019. Why? Partly because I’ve got nothing better to do today, and partly to make the point that after cutting the squad down to a manageable size a couple of seasons ago, it has once again swelled to the point where it’s hard to see how many players are ever going to get a game, and if that’s the case, what are they doing there? The amount of players currently registered for T1 action is 29, while a further 2 (incidentally probably the two highest paid players in the squad) are only available for cup action or not at all. There are also 7 players out on loan, taking the tally to 38.

Unfortunately, in the transfer window just passed a lot of players were either signed for no good reason or have dropped down the pecking order, or indeed out of the T1 squad, to accommodate new signings. I wanted to make the team with only players currently available for selection, but as I was struggling to fill a couple of positions, I’ve crow-barred in a couple of players who are out on loan.

The last thing I want to do is criticize any of the young players on this list. I’m glad we have a crop of promising youngsters in the squad, and I’m not trying to say that all of the players listed are not good enough or don’t deserve to be there. The issue is more with some of the players who are getting regular first team action, but aren’t necessarily any better than these guys. Is Athibordee really better than Anon? Is Tanaboon a more effective centre half than Piyachanok? Is Chenrop going to score more goals than Chanayut would?

All the three names mentioned above have one thing in common: reputation. Athibordee is a former T1 captain, Tanaboon has been a national team regular for years and Chenrop was the Thai under 23 striker and has played for Muangthong. The thing is, none of that should matter. Athibordee is never going to start regularly for a title chasing team, Tanaboon’s career has been on the slide for a couple of years and Chenrop is just useless.

Port transfer strategy is pretty much non-existent, and this is the result. XI players who may well not play a single T1 minute for the rest of the season.

 

Anipong (77, GK)

There’s only one choice here, with Port’s three other goalkeepers having seen a fair amount of action this season. Anipong was brought in during the mid-season break from Port’s academy, but with all three other stoppers ahead of him earning rave reviews in the time they’ve spent in the first team, Anipong will just have to spend the season watching and learning. It’s worth pointing out that I’m not having a go at Port for including Anipong with the first team. Port B were not allowed to compete in T4 this season, so in the absence of regular T4 action, a chance to train with the first team will be good for his development.

 

 

Chanchai (66, RB)

Chanchai has barely been in the squad a couple of weeks so I haven’t had a chance to see him in action yet. He’s a very young right back from Fox Hunt, and he’s unlikely to see any action in 2019. With Nitipong the only specialist right back in the squad you might think there’s an opening, but knowing Port’s management the likes of Adisorn, Steuble and others are more likely to fill in out of position then young Chanchai.

Piyachanok (2, CB)

Piyachanok is one of the real head-scratchers on this list. He’s an accomplished T1 centre back who was brought in on a 6 month loan deal from T2 leaders BG Pathum Thani. Quite why Port brought in the 26 year old when they rated Dolah, fellow new signing Tanaboon and stalwart Todsapol higher is anyone’s guess. Hell, they might even pick Athibordee out of position ahead of Piyachanok. He has yet to play a minute for Port, and has even struggled to get on to the bench.

Rochela (22, CB)

What a shame. Port’s long-time captain and one of the most popular players at the club was brutally dropped from the T1 squad in the mid-season transfer window, with Port instead favouring two strikers who have, so far, spent more time on the bench or on the wing than the position they were intended for. Rochela is still in the FA Cup squad, although with his playing time having been so limited for the last month or so his match sharpness is deteriorating by the day.

Yossawat (28, LB)

One of those curious situations where all the fans who watch him think he’s great, but the coach just refuses to give him the time of day. Yossawat arrived from Buriram, played for Thailand’s under 23s but couldn’t even make it on to Port’s bench most of the time. At various points Kevin, Jetjinn, Panpanpong, Nitipong and Adisorn have all been favoured over him at left back. Arguably only Kevin should have been. Yossawat is one of my cheat inclusions, as he was loaned out to Nongbua a few weeks ago. He’s gone straight in to the first team, and if his Instagram posts of his goals and assists are anything to go by, he’s having a whale of a time.

Anon (20, DM)

I’m more frustrated by this situation than any other on the list. One of my favourite players after he burst on to the scene in 2018, Anon featured heavily in a tough run of games and was Port’s stand-out performer in defensive midfield. He then missed a few weeks of action through injury, and has never really been considered for first team action since. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but apparently Adisorn, Athibordee, Tanaboon and even bloody Rochela are all better options in that position. He’s played one minute in T1 this season.

 

 

The issue here is not that I think Anon should have started every game. Bringing in Go was an excellent signing, and Siwakorn has more than earned his place in the team with some fantastic performances this season. However, valuing players like Athibordee and Adisorn higher than a 20 year old with as much potential as Anon is plainly absurd. Athibordee is never going to be more than a bit part player for Port, and Adisorn is a utility player who, as much as I like him, is never going to nail down a starting place in a title-chasing side. Port need to show faith in their young players, rather than going out and signing expensive, overrated Thai internationals. Anon should have made 10+ appearances this season, and if he had we’d have a happy, developing youngster on our hands who would be pushing for inclusion in the first XI. Instead, we have a host of squad players who are just there to make up the numbers.

Sansern (88, CM)

Believe it or not this 22 year old is really highly rated. You wouldn’t know it from how much interest Port’s management have shown in Sansern. He has captained Thai youth teams, and played for some of the country’s top clubs, but at Port that doesn’t mean you will ever get a shot ahead of Siwakorn, Sumanya or even Jirattikan. My second cheat option, as he’s been loaned out to Ayutthaya FC.

Jirattikan (21, AM)

I have seen quite a bit of Jirattikan, and he looks a decent player, if not the most exciting talent. Very good fundamentals, high work rate and rarely loses the ball. He’s managed a few appearances in the league and cup this season, but is now struggling for a place on the bench, and like his Fox Hunt teammate Anon, he hasn’t really done anything wrong.

Chanayut (14, RW)

Port B’s star player in 2018, Chanayut has deservedly been given a shot with the big boys. Well, he’s been given a place in the squad. Whether he will get on the pitch or not is another question, and I’m almost certain what the answer is!

 

 

Boskovic (23, LW)

Were Rochela not also on the list, I would confidently state that Bosko is getting paid as much as the rest of this team combined. At the Sandpit, we were of the opinion that letting Bosko go and bringing in a proper striker was the way forward, but the way things have worked out so far, it seems like the second part of the deal has been reneged on. Josimar has mostly been used wide right, and Blackburn has spent most of his time on the bench. It’s looking like the decision to sacrifice Rochela and Boskovic for these two is one of Port’s biggest blunders in recent memory, and that’s saying something!

Peemmawat (41, ST)

Like Chanchai, Peemmawat has just arrived and I haven’t seen him play yet. The list of former Fox Hunt players in the Port squad currently stands at four, with another one out on loan.

 


 

If Port ever considered any kind of transfer strategy, rather than buying whoever the agent of the minute is hawking, making lists like this would be impossible. We would buy players who our manager actually wants to play, and we would have a sensible amount of options for each position. Ideally, the whole squad would feel like it had something to contribute, and there would be a well-worn path for young talents to earn a place in the starting XI when merited. Clearly that’s not the case right now, with Port leaving their two highest paid players out of their T1 squad and having a host of players who are most likely not going to see a single minute of action in the run-in.

 

Tom Earls

Tom Earls

Having moved to Thailand aged 10, Tom has been playing or watching football in Thailand for more than 18 years. A keen follower of the Thai National Team and an avid fan of Port FC, he is a regular contributor to The Sandpit.

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