PAT’s All Folks! The Sandpit Takes a Break

 

With Port’s season having descended into outright farce, The Sandpit can no longer waste any more of its time on a club that is so appallingly managed that it can’t even complete its home fixtures. You can post all the #keepfighting hashtags you want; the fact is under the current management the club has become little more than a joke, with the best fans in Thai football – and some of the best players – forced to put up with a seemingly never-ending litany of bad decisions. Rather like what would happen if, say, you put a football coach in charge of an insurance company.

Well, time to say enough. We’ve had a great 4 years running this site and writing about Port, and let’s face it there’s been plenty to write about, but enough is enough, and we no longer see much point in writing about a club that has sadly become a joke. We could go into more detail but fuck it, you all know what’s going on at Port and we have nothing more to add really.

Hopefully things will change and we’ll be back. But if not, thanks to all who’ve written for us over the last few years, and to all those who’ve come up to us at games & told us they found the club via our website. And of course thanks to all the players who’ve spent time doing interviews with us over the last few years – we’ve really enjoyed meeting you and telling your stories. We may still occasionally see you all at the odd game now & again, who knows, but until the management at Port changes we certainly won’t be writing about it or helping promote the club as we’ve done the last 4 years.

This is hopefully not adieu, just a temporary au revoir, and until then, for one more time….TARUA!!!

Lights Out: Port FC P – P Muangthong United

Our match reports are brought to you by The Sportsman.

 

I would normally begin an article with a pithy, light hearted observation that can frame the basis
of the narrative but after taking stock of yesterday’s farcical events, reviewing the news and
social media and casting an eye back over what has been a frankly ridiculous year for the club
all I can do is ask a question:

What the fuck is going on at Port?

 

 

Yesterday’s match postponement due to an electrical fire and subsequently no floodlights
means we have been unable to complete 2 of our 3 home matches since the restart of the
league. The official announcement yesterday was that the match is postponed for a later date
but The FAT has communicated the match has been “called off because the electricity outage
had halted the game for more than 60 minutes”, just like the Police Tero match. This means we
will have to report the incident to a disciplinary committee and might have to accept another 0-2
defeat and a fine.

From any perspective this is shocking. After the last outage one must presume all electrical
units were inspected, any faults repaired and then vigorously tested. I have zero electrical
knowledge (but I know smoke + fire = big problem) and I don’t want to speculate the reasons
why the fire happened because that could lead into tin foil hat time but I will add this:
What happened yesterday is totally unacceptable for a professional football club.

I’m sure there will be more official statements in the coming week but there is nothing positive to
take from this situation. From the photos circulating on social media and chat groups, to the
news that media pass holders were unable to leave their holding room during the incident, this
was a brutal day and will no doubt have a detrimental effect on our reputation.

Let’s quickly take stock of this year: we have cut our stadium capacity by 25% by adding
uncomfortable, dangerous seating for one AFC match (which we lost), fired a silverware winning
coach who had taken 10 out of 12 points in this league campaign, signed an injured player and
shamefully dropped our captain to accommodate him in the squad, fired another coach for 2
defeats (1 technically awarded due to power outage) and there are still many, many things I
could gripe about.

I know that in football, and from supporting this team for 4 years, gallows humour plays a big
role in defeats, relegation and all other forms of misfortune but yesterday’s event was just
disrespectful. The fans, some of the most passionate in Thailand, deserve a lot better and the
club is now damaging the reputation of the league and Thai football in general. Port needs to
accept responsibility and any punishment meted out, show some understanding and remorse
towards its coaching staff, players and fans, and finally conduct itself more professionally. It’s
not something we ask for, it’s something we expect.

 

Port to Maintain the New Normal? Port FC vs. Muangthong Utd Preview

 

No, this is not a Covid-19 reference, nor some pessimistic speculation on Port’s relatively indifferent form since the re-start continuing, but, rather, a welcome nod to the Lions’ satisfying habit of regularly beating their much-loathed rivals in recent seasons. Resounding home and away victories have brought unbridled joy to the Klongtoey faithful, and some eagerly taken dressing-room photographic opportunities for the players. This happy sequence has only been marred by a 3-2, 2018 home loss in a game notable for four goals in seven minutes of Toby time after the interval and a cruelly ruled out, ‘offside’ equalizer.

As with all games between Port and the Kirins, this one will be eagerly anticipated, but the absence of a rabid, baying Port crowd thirsting for blood (metaphorically of course, as away fans have not been admitted in recent years) definitely dampens the enthusiasm. Games between these teams have led to heated debates amongst the fans, to say the least, and this rivalry has given the games a certain edge, with success often measured in the emergency room as much as the goalmouth.

With football in the UK played against an uninspiring soundtrack of canned cheering and audible player cursing, we should really be grateful that at least we can get to see live football again and have a few beers with our mates. All that is missing are the Korean sex-dolls. I will bring some along next time.

 

 

To be truthful, the atmosphere has been rather sterile in the first two home matches with somewhat muted cheers greeting the goals and occasional moments of artistry. In fact, the loudest outburst of meaningful noise was when the floodlights failed, plus the raucous howls of derision when Tunez tried to pick a fight with Heberty. It just showed what sort of delicious malice might be generated by a real crowd. To be fair, it is hard to get excited sitting down and with the luxurious space afforded by Port’s social distance seating (we knew they would come in handy some time) plus the uninterrupted views, it does seem rather a waste of energy getting to your feet, except at Zone B corners and then it’s often just to stretch the legs.

Then there is the lengthy wait while, it seems, every goal, yes, every goal, is subject to VAR regardless of its obvious validity. I am waiting for someone to score direct from a rolled-back kick-off only for the referee to check if the player had put his shin-pads in correctly.

Port’s re-start has been riddled with a predictable mixture of farce and folly: the floodlight fiasco, yet another Jadet sacking and the Bonilla injury saga, not to mention Madame Pang’s ostentatious footwear. It has been commented by some Sand-Pitters that this is not a club you can fully love at the moment and the back room in The Sportsman on Saturday night was a Viper’s pit of vitriol, most of the venom directed at Heberty, who is clearly this season’s pantomime villain. I am certainly irritated by his selfishness and wayward shooting but he’s no Pol Pot.

So, I’m going to look on the bright side. While it has not been the re-start we might have craved, a quick look at the table today shows us just three points behind leaders Bangkok Glass, to whom we lost narrowly, with only one ‘actual’ defeat, the same as Bangkok Utd. Last week’s win was decidedly un-pretty and somewhat desperate, like a closing time carry-out from Thermae, but the pitch looked like a rice paddy and it was our 4th different starting eleven in four games.

We have been hit by injuries and suspensions as well as haunted by missed chances. We now have a run of 3 ‘winnable’ game, which should maintain our strong position. This, I believe, will be a season where the top six teams take points off each other and it is likely to be a much more competitive title race than in previous campaigns. It used to be that you had to beat Buriram twice to even stand a chance of winning the League, as they would invariably mop up everyone else. Buriram will no doubt re-enter the fray at some point, which will make for a fascinating season. We have a squad able to compete at this level; it just needs a bit of inspired direction. Rumour has it that Madame Pang is lining up more foreign coaches than the harbour-master at Calais so maybe, just maybe. I prefer my glass half-full.

Our opponents this week had a decent win against 5th place Ratchaburi in their last run-out, which, unfortunately, might give them some renewed confidence. They have a number of foreign players in their ranks with an interesting pedigree. Brazilian, Vanderley Dias Marinho (87), or Derley for short, once had a spell with Benfica, signed after a 16-goal breakthrough season with Maritimo in 2014. One of his earliest moments after joining was to score a goal against Valencia in the Emirates Cup that season. He was only to score once more in 15 appearances with The Eagles. He has 11 goals in 20 appearances for Muang Thong, so is likely be a threat.

 

 

Russian born, Vietnamese national goalkeeper, Dang Van Lam (1) was signed from Haiphong, Leandro’s former club. A giant of a keeper with an arm span of two metres, we will need to keep it low. His Russian name, Lev, is contributed to his mother’s (a former ballet dancer) passionate admiration for the legendary Soviet goalkeeper Lev Yashin.

Daisuke Caumanday Sato (66) has an exotic name to match the other two and is one of more than a dozen Filipino players to be playing in the Thai League at the moment, although many, like Sato, are of dual nationality. His one claim to fame is being the first Filipino footballer to play in Romania, for Politehnica against Dinamo Bucharest in 2016. Something to boast about in the watering holes on P. Burgos.

 

 

It has been three years since MTU last won a trophy and four since they won the League; long may that continue. It seems that their only recent, notable statistic is the number of players they have out on loan: 37 at the last count, most of them at Udon Thani and Bang Pa-In Ayuthaya.

With a victory under their belt, Port need a settled spell so, if everyone is fit, I wouldn’t activate many changes unless it would be to bring back Siwakorn to accompany Go and Heberty/Suarez in midfield.

 

Possible Team

 

 

Prediction

Port to win 3-1.

 


 

The match will be shown on True4U and True Sports HD1 at 18:00 on Sunday 4th September, 2020. For the many of you who won’t be able to get your hands on tickets, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.