Head Coach: Where Should Port Go Next?

 

Disclaimer: this is an opinion piece. It is purely my thoughts, and may not be how other Port fans are feeling, or the way they wish the club to operate in the future. The latest report is that we’ll be hiring a foreign coach, but how accurate that report is, I don’t know.

So after listening to the latest Portcast featuring Tom and Tim, and then listening to another podcast that Tom spoke on briefly [I missed the final 15 mins due to not having a Spotify account], it got me thinking as to how I would like the club to move on from the drama that has gone on since the departure of Choke. Whilst I’m fine with Jadet coming in for now, as he usually has us playing a much more attractive brand of football, it seems the spherical supremo is only being considered a short-term option whilst we cast a wider net to attract our next coach.

Regardless of what people say: the Port job is an attractive one, and there’ll be a lot of applications for the vacancy. You’d inherit an extremely talented squad already, the financial package that can be offered would be enticing, and more importantly: you play in front of the best fans in the country every time you line up at home. The downside is obvious: the backroom politics. It’s something that probably goes on at every Thai club in all honesty, and unfortunately… I don’t think that it’ll go away any time soon.

The way I’d like us to head moving forwards is this: I’d like us to appoint an older coach with a lot of experience, with him having a Thai assistant-manager who he will mentor into eventually taking the reins at the club in future years. It’s something that’s been done in football before [Marcelo Lippi did this with Fabio Cannavaro in China] and it’s been done countless times in other sports too. The reason I’d like us to head this way is due to there not really being a Thai manager at the moment that I feel is available, and so I’d prefer us to develop someone rather than pay over the odds. It seems we’re not used to making financially sensible decisions though…

Below are the 6 coaches [3 experienced, 3 prospects] that I feel should be considered if we were to head down this route. I personally have no idea if they’d be interested in being a part of a management model like this, but I do think that if they were: they’d be a good hire, and they’d be a good mentor too.

 

The Experience

Robert Procureur

 

Thai FA Cup Final 2019 – Ratchaburi FC vs Port FC on 02.11.2019 at the LEO Stadium

 

I’ve gone a seemingly safe candidate as one of my options, although it’d be a change of role for the 60-year old Belgian. He’s always operated as a director at clubs, with him having great relationships all over the world that sees his clubs sign talented players from all over the world.

There’s no doubting that his time at Muangthong was incredibly successful, although one could argue that his time at BEC-Tero wasn’t as successful: although they did finish 3rd twice during that time too! Since arriving at Ratchaburi in 2017, he’s seen 9 head coaches depart the club, although how much say he had in those decisions: your guess is as good as mine. 2020 has seen Ratchaburi come out of the blocks well, having retained 4 of their foreigners from last season. They look like they’re finally ready to shake things up in the league again, which is good for the league at the end of the day.

The reason I’d hire Robert Procureur is this: he knows Thai football, he’s dealt with a difficult owner already, and he has great contacts within the game. He’d have a great amount of knowledge to pass on to a younger coach.

 

Arjhan Srong-ngamsub

 

 

Next up on the list would be coach Kongbeng, who hasn’t been a head coach since he left Siam Navy in 2015. The 68-year old has close to 40-years coaching experience, during which he has won 12 trophies, whilst he’s also held numerous positions with the Thai national team during that time too.

“The best coach I ever played for during my career” was what one of his former players said about him when I asked what it was like to play under him. The thing that I like about Arjhan Srong-ngamsub is this: he’s been in charge of some incredibly successful teams [Bangkok Bank and Hoang Anh Gia Lai for instance] and he’s also been in charge of some teams that have had to battle too [Nakhon Ratchasima and Siam Navy]. So he has that versatility, and I’d like to think that he’d be able to instil a mentality where our players don’t fold when they’re faced with any form of adversity.

Arjhan Srong-ngamsub was the only Thai coach who I felt could do a job like this, although having been out of the game since 2015: he may be happily retired.

 

Philippe Troussier

 

 

I went a bit left-field with the final person that I’d consider an option. Philippe Troussier is currently the head coach of the Vietnamese Under 19 national team, whilst he’s also the technical direct of PVF: a Vietnamese academy that plays in the V.League 2 that consists of players that are considered the best talents in Vietnam.

He’s another option with a lot of experience, having begun his coaching career in 1983. Management has taken him all over the world, and he’s coached on three continents: Europe, Africa and Asia. He’s coached international teams at the World Cup, and he’s coached big club sides ASEC Mimosas, Kaizer Chiefs and even Olympique Marseille. Going by Wikipedia: his time in China with Shenzhen Ruby was controversial to say the least. That was a long time ago though, and having been involved in an academy set-up of sorts, he’s already begun to take on that mentorship role of sorts.

I think Philippe Troussier has great pedigree, and if we couldn’t get either of the other options I’ve listed: he’d be a good appointment.

 

The Prospects

Sarayuth Chaikamdee

 

 

I couldn’t go past Sarayuth as one of the candidates to be mentored, as not only is he highly regarded by the fans already: he’s had a moderate amount of success during his brief time as a head coach. He finished 2nd [1 point behind 1st] in the 2018 Thai League 4 North-eastern Region during his first season at Khon Kaen United, which got them into the Champions League stage of the T4 competition, where they won their group and clinched promotion to Thai League 3. I’m not sure what happened in 2019, but he left the club at some stage, and they were then promoted to Thai League 2 at the end of that season.

In 2020 he’s been appointed as the head coach at Bankhai United, who play in the Thai League 4 Eastern region. He won both of his games before the league was suspended. Bankhai is traditionally a team that qualifies for the Champions League stage of the competition, although they haven’t had any luck yet in going on to clinch promotion.

Sarayuth would be my top pick if we were to go down this road, and I’d like to think that he’d be extremely excited to come back to a club where he’s so popular with the fans already.

 

Sutee Suksomkit

 

 

There’s no doubting Sutee was a fantastic player, who enjoyed a tremendous amount of success on the pitch. Off the pitch… he’s had a mixed bag really. He coached Bangkok FC in 2016 in the Thai League 2, and Lampang for the second-leg of the Thai League 2 season in 2017. Now I don’t know why he left either club, so I won’t speculate on it. What I can see is the league table, and for Bangkok FC in 2016: he finished 14th [out of 16 teams], and the foreign players he had on the books were: Douglas Cardozo, David Silva, William Gros, Nebojša Bastajić and Junki Yokono. Hardly an inspiring lot if we’re honest, bar Douglas and David Silva. 2017 at Lampang saw him secure the club a 6th place finish in Thai League 2, before he depart at seasons end.

This is where it gets quite interesting: at least for me anyway. After having two head coach roles in Thai League 2, he then popped up at Chiangrai United as an assistant-manager. There’s no denying that Chiangrai were hugely successful in 2018 and 2019, although I’d have no idea how much of a role that Sutee played in that success. He must’ve been well liked, as he was hired or kept on by Alexandre Gama and Ailton Silva, and I have no idea whether or not he is still there under Masami Taki or not. Wikipedia says he isn’t: Transfermarkt say he is!

Having done a proper apprenticeship with Chiangrai United since his spells in Thai League 2 with Bangkok FC and Lampang, I feel that if he was mentored properly: there’s a good chance he could be a Thai League 1 head coach in the future.

 

Fodé Bangaly Diakité

 

 

Honestly: I struggled to find a third person from within Thailand that I’d consider an option. I looked all over Wikipedia, I looked through previous foreign players from years gone by, and it was when I was looking through Chonburi’s current squad [Dad’s Army as I call it] that I then remembered a player that had played for them in previous years who I’d considered a good defender and a bit underrated almost. Enter Fodé Bangaly Diakité.

Now I have no idea as to whether he’s looking to enter management, but if he were: he’s someone I’d give consideration. He was a smart player defensively, he has great longevity in the region, and because of that… he’d understand what goes behind the scenes and not be too put off by it. He spent the majority of his time in Thailand at Chonburi [3 separate spells], but he also had spells at Pattaya United, BEC-Tero Sasana, Phan Thong and finally Bankhai United in 2018.

This would be the riskiest option of the 3 that I’ve put on this list, but if he were to take the guidance of one of the 3 mentors that I’ve listed: that makes it considerably less of a risk.

Now I know it’s incredibly unlikely that we’ll go down this path, but with a serious lack of football to watch at the moment: I’m beyond bored right now. Knowing us, we’ll look worldwide for 6-months for somebody only to appoint Jadet permanently, who we’ll then sack after a winless spell of 6 or so games. And then the cycle will begin again!

I do hope that we can make a move in the near future that’ll see the club being talked about in a positive light rather than a negative one, and I hope that moving forward there’ll be a bit less drama coming out of Port FC. Again… something that’s unlikely.

In the meantime, I hope everyone stays safe during this troubling time, and I look forward to seeing more content on the site whilst we wait for league action to resume.

 

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