Reasons to Be Fearful? Tim’s 2020 Port FC Preview


From the outside, all must seem pretty rosy in the Port world. A first trophy – the 2019 FA Cup – for a decade in the bag, and a busy transfer window that has seen several famous new faces arrive. Port are quite clearly a club on the up. So why are so many of us farang fans unhappy? Are we just naturally miserable bastards who need to cheer up and enjoy ourselves, or, following a mostly disappointing preseason salvaged at the last minute by that Leo Cup win, is there genuine concern that Port’s 2020 may not be the title-winning year of glory so many pundits are predicting?

Here are my Five Reasons to Be Fearful…


The Transfer Window

The accepted wisdom seems to be that Port had a good transfer window, bringing in established T1 stars like Heberty, Chappuis and Adisak, and also adding promising youngsters in the likes of Kannarin and Nattiwut. The accepted wisdom is sadly wrong. Port had their usual random, scattergun transfer window, running around like a mad contestant on Supermarket Sweep, scooping up boxes of chocolates and bottles of champagne before getting home & realising they’d forgotten bread and milk. The end result is that we have approximately 27 midfielders, not one top quality goalkeeper (a continuing blind sport at Port), no 20+-goal striker, and several big egos fighting over the same positions. The fact that Chenrop stayed whilst Arthit left, and whilst Josimar looks likely to be loaned out, is all the evidence you need that, when it comes to building a cohesive squad, Port’s management simply don’t have a clue.


The Coach

Choke obviously got the plaudits last season when his new manager bounce arrested Jadet’s usual mid-season slump, but he blew a title race that was there for the taking and had considerable help from the referee in the FA Cup final. His team selections are frequently baffling – Tanaboon at CB? Josimar as a right-winger? Worawut ahead of Watchara or Rattanai? Like his predecessors, players are being picked on name/reputation rather than form/merit. His players frequently look confused about what they’re supposed to be doing, and as yet have failed to recreate the same swagger that Jadet’s teams frequently displayed. On the touchline he frequently looks as clueless as his predecessor and some of his decisions during the game against Cerezo Osaka even invoked the ire of the usually mild-mannered Nitipong. In short, he’s not the man to bring the title to Port, but given no foreign coach with any self-respect would take the job, he’s probably about as good as we’re going to get.


The Egos

The number of big names in the Port dressing room this season is going to take some serious managing. Heberty already looks surly and unhappy with playing on the right; Suarez clearly doesn’t enjoy playing as a striker; Pakorn sulked on the left wing against Chiang Rai; and Chappuis obviously hasn’t joined to sit on the bench or play for a reborn Port B. Keeping all these big names happy is going to take some genius level man management, and you wonder who’s going to provide it. And of course the biggest ego of them all will be picking the team…


The Defence

There were times during Port’s pre-season when the defence looked like a bunch of strangers who’d been randomly thrown together just before kickoff, rather than a tightly drilled unit who’ve been playing together for years. The Champions’ Cup game against Chiang Rai in particular was shambolic, and the Beetles should really have been out of sight by half time. Choke still doesn’t seem to know what his best CB pairing is (I’ll tell him – it’s Dolah and Todsapol), and remains convinced that Tanaboon can do a job there, whilst captain-leader-legend Rochela has had a poor pre-season by his lofty standards – as T1 footballers rapidly get bigger and quicker, he’s starting to look like a bit of an anachronism. And when it comes to goalkeeping, Port have three average keepers, and the best of those – Watchara – hasn’t had a sniff pre-season. Choke seems to prefer the hapless Worawut, who clearly hasn’t yet reached the ‘Catching the Ball’ chapter in his copy of Goalkeeping for Dummies.


The Attack

Port’s signing of Heberty brought to mind the previous signings of Boskovic and Nebihi, signed as centre forwards when they’re actually something quite different. Heberty has looked sullen out on the right during Port’s pre-season games when he would clearly be better suited to the no10 role generally occupied by Suarez who, as one of Port’s grandes quesos, isn’t going anywhere. Adisak isn’t the 20+-goal striker Port need and always fail to sign. Chenrop isn’t even a 1 goal a season striker. The best striker currently at the club, Josimar, looks likely to be loaned out. Yes, with the likes of Tanasith and Bodin on the wings, this team will get plenty of goals, but bringing in a Bonilla or a Doumbouya would’ve given Port one hand at least on the T1 trophy.


Bonus Reason: The Stadium

Spending lots of money to put in seats for what was only ever going to be a one-home-game ACL campaign? Reducing the stadium capacity when your club’s profile is at an all-time high? Absolutely ridiculous.


Reason to be Cheerful

The rest of the division. None of Port’s title rivals have had great transfer windows. Champs Chiang Rai have done very little, and neither have Bangkok Utd (who will be without Bonilla until mid-season), whilst Buriram’s new foreign signings are unknown quantities and they’ve lost their best player in Hosegai. The rest of T1 looks mediocre at best, and so Port will probably have just about enough talent on the pitch to beat most teams, whilst hoping Buriram’s new boys flop and Chiang Rai don’t match last season’s level of grinding consistency.


Tim’s First Choice XI

Admittedly this is pretty fanciful, as it relies on Josimar taking the last foreign slot over Rochela, and Pang pets like Tanaboon and Pakorn being benched, but we can dream…


The Rest

Champions: Buriram Utd

Second: Bangkok Utd

Third: Port FC

Relegated: Trat, Suphanburi, Rayong



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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  1. […] pre-season. Rather than labouring this point once again, I will point you towards Dom’s, Tim’s and my 2020 Previews, which examined our off-season shortcomings in excruciating […]

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