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The Sandpit 2021/22 Big Guess Up- ChiangRai United

 

 

Last season saw the conveyor belt of success at Chiangrai keep rolling, as they finished with a win in the Thai FA Cup for the third time in four years, throw in that the year they missed out on the cup (2019) they were league champions and add the league cup in 2018 for a cup double and you have quite the spell of success.

So, what to expect this coming season. More of the same. Not that that guarantees more silverware but if there’s one thing the Chiangrai of recent years have shown us is that they are ruthlessly consistent and hard to beat. The football might not always be the prettiest and after blowing the bank on Tanaboon and Thitiphan once upon a time, recent seasons have been slightly less extravagant. Despite this the squad remains strong, this is not a club in decline more one where the board are happy to tick along at their level, even if that means sitting just below the title contenders. As shown by last season’s league figures, despite a fall from the summit to fourth, their numbers weren’t that much worse than those that saw the Beatles claimed the title, finishing up with 4 fewer points, scoring 5 less and conceding 4 more.

The defence is marshalled by Brazilian Brinner, who replaced another big name to have moved on in recent years in Victor Cardozo (of BG Pathum United via PTT Rayong). Brinner might not be at quite the same level as his fellow Brazilian at the back and some way short as an attacking threat but he’s still a fine asset. As shown by their defence ranking as the third, second and then third meanest defence in the division since his arrival.

Phitiwat can’t wait for the return of Thai league!

While the midfield is stacked, captain Phitiwat stock has risen with each passing season. He was joined midway through last season by Korean Ji-hun Cho instantly forming a successful partnership that l predict will finish the coming season generally considered the best central midfield two in the league. While Ekinit Panya was limited to just 18 appearances by injury last season, he is, without doubt, one of the most gifted Thai’s in the league and at only 21 still has time and development on his side. Add in Siwakorn Tiatrakul and you have quite the pool to work with and it’s a settled group.  As the closed season has seen next to no activity in the transfer market. With the only move of note being departure of Cruella de Vil tribute act and general shit bloke Chaiyawat Buram to the Samut Prakan Dons. One move l think would have improved them, would have been to replace their second Brazilian forward Felipe, for me he’s end product, both in terms of goals and creativity could be better and he often flatters to deceive.

 

Head Coach Emerson Pereira

Initially part of the support staff at the club, the Brazilian was presented the chance to run the show before the start of last season. Very little changed about the club in his first season, will season two see an attempt to play more expansive football? Whilst Siwakorn has flourished under his leadership, Ekinat when available hasn’t always started and on occasions has looked a peripheral figure for his club under the Brazilian, can he find a system that maintains the club’s hard to beat core whilst getting the most out of the attacking talent at his disposal?

Emerson Pereira working on the key Thai skill of pointing at random things.

 

 

Key Player – Bill

The one and only Rosimar Amâncio AKA Bill, Fat Bill, Bloody Bill’s scored against us again. Probably the most begrudgingly respected man in Thai football. You’ve got to respect the man. His game might not be pretty, his arse might be the size of many a fat farang’s in the stands but what’s unquestionable about Bill is that he scores goals, his all-round game is effective, he puts a shift in and you’d much rather have him in your team than against you. Indeed, you have to wonder if, of all the moves from Ratchaburi that have ended in Klong Toei, his had been added to the list, quite how much of the silverware that has found its way to the Beatle’s lair would have instead ended up in central Bangkok. The worry for Chiangrai is that he is now 37 and as much as last season’s three-year contract extension is a masterstroke if he keeps up his level for its duration, they have a major problem if he should start to miss games, in terms of goals, leadership and creating that unique friction that opposition doesn’t enjoy when they come up against Chiangrai.

 

Bill he’s good but he’s not Mbappé

 

My Prediction – More of the same.

I don’t expect much to change for the premier northern club this coming season. They’ll again be hard to beat and should nobody decide to kick on and put up the kind of points total that generally wins the league they’ll be there with around 55- 60 points ready to take it. However realistically, that none of the other “big 5” (and especially Buriram and/or BG Pathum) do kick on is highly unlikely.  Rather l  feel they’ll end up in a fight with Port and Bangkok United for third. While they’ll as ever, be in the cups till some someone puts them out, which given their form of recent years will be hard to do. Don’t count against another cup and another year of ACL football.

James Clarke

James Clarke

Originally from England, James first came to Thailand in 2010 to escape big cities and spend time on beaches away from crowds. He now divides his time between living in Bangkok and wishing he was living in Bangkok.

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