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2020 Vision: Chiang Rai Utd

 

Yes, the 2020 season will soon be upon us, and you can almost taste the cold Leo, the lukewarm sausages and the disappointment. That means it’s time for our regular Sandpit pre-season previews, and where better to start than with 2019 T1 champs Chiang Rai? Here’s Peeples fan Alec Beetles – sorry, that should be Beetles fan Alec Peeples – with his thoughts on what the season holds for his team…

How did your team perform in 2019? Where do they need to improve?

Champions! I think our biggest issues last season was the lack of quality (usually down to finishing) in the final third, and often being overly pragmatic. I would like to see the squad play more positive football this year.

Transfer window – which new signings are you most excited about? Which departing players are you sorry to see go/happy to see the back of?

The loss of William (he means Thin Bill – Ed) is a big blow. It’s still early days for Mailson, but so far he has not been impressive. I hope he will gel with Bill (he means Fat Bill – Ed) and show some of the same excitement and danger we got from William.

Happy with your club’s coach?

It’s still early, and he will have big shoes to fill. I was very skeptical when he was appointed, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with his management throughout the pre season.

What are your realistic ambitions for the 2020 season?

I would like a good run in the ACL and to compete for the title again. I can’t deny that a big factor in our run last season was owed to the fact that no clubs really had an exceptional season, but I believe we have the quality to compete with the other top clubs.

Which teams will be in contention for the title? Which teams will struggle to survive?

I think Chiang Rai, Bangkok United, and Buriram will all be there about. I also expect a good season from Muangthong (which has earned me a good bit of flak on Twitter). I think Rayong and Suphanburi are likely to go down, but beyond that it’s a tough call. I reckon most clubs in bottom half of the table all have an equally likely shot to go down.

What 3 things would you change about Thai football?

With the return of VAR, I am prepared for the worst this season. It is hard to point to three specific improvements to make, but generally speaking I think the quality of officiating could be improved, the scheduling (much is always made of the numerous breaks that kill the late season momentum), and the cult of personality developed by most club ownership.

 

Thanks Alec! If you want to share your thoughts on the 2020 season, click here before Monday 9 Feb.

 

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, ITV.com, 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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