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The Sandpit 2021/22 Big Guess Up -Bangkok United

The Thai league’s eternal bridesmaids head into another season, like every other recent one, hoping that this is the year they get over the line and bag some silverware. This season marks a new era for the Rangsit club. Mano Polking departed the club all the way back in October last year, as a flying start of five straight wins was followed by four straight defeats. While this summer has seen Sanrawat Dechmitr and Anthony Ampaipitakwong depart meaning there’s now very little of what would be termed the core Polking era players, left at the club.  The addition of Thitiphan Puangchan, means they still have some stellar performers on the books. Make no mistake the signing of Thitiphan was a huge coup, this was the captain and driving force that powered BG to the title last season. If there’s a power shift out in the Rangsit countryside this transfer will have played a major part. He is about as good as a Thai midfielder gets in our book. Could he be the cliché missing piece that United have been hunting for the past few years?

 

Thitiphan Puangchan, enjoying the Bangkok United matchday experience

 

Head Coach – Totchtawan Sripan

The Sandpit jury is still very much out on Totchtawan. He won the title at Muangthong in 2016 having inherited by far the best squad in the league, before seeing it surpassed by Buriram and ultimately departing as the gap widened. Thereafter there hasn’t been a whole heap to get excited about in his ventures back into club management. Since taking over, in mid-October, at the excessively large Thammasat Stadium, there have been times when the football has been scintillated (the 5-1 win over Chonburi springs to mind). Whilst with the new regime firmly established, the February restart saw the Angels flying, winning nine of the remaining fourteen games and losing just twice.

However, worrying since the change of manager they are yet to win against any of their fellow “big 5” in the league with a record of three draws and three defeats. Chiangrai adding a further defeat in FA Cup semi final, the same stage they exited at in 2019 (who could forget that one).

 

Totchtawan Sripan, no idea what’s going on but it beats another manager pic in a nice polo pointing at something

 

Key Players  – Michael Falkesgaard.

 

Arriving from Midtjylland in 2017, for his first two seasons the Philippines international was the best keeper in the league by some distance. Last season saw a major dip in form. There was still the occasional flash of what he is capable of, for example, two world class saves at the PAT kept his side in the game as they trailed 2-1 and allowed them to go on and rescue a point. Given the standard of keeping generally seen in Thailand if he gets back to his best, we are looking at a player who’s worth is as much as a twenty goals a season striker.

 

 

Michael Falkesgaard. BKKU generally have nice kits, unless you’re a keeper.

 

My Prediction – Good luck in the cup.

There’s a core of a really good side here. Falkesgaard is worth a 5/10-point swing over any other keeper in the league if he can return to his past levels. The centre back pair of Manual Bihr and Everton are a great double act, who dovetail into somewhat more than their individual parts (as anyone who’s seen Bihr play for the national team will know). Throw in Thitiphan and the creativity of Vander. While upfront they have Nattawut Suksum who was joint seconds top Thai scorer in the league. Joining him is one of the more interesting arrivals of the transfer window, Anthony Carter; a 6ft 3 Aussie target man from Académico de Viseu in Portugal’s second tier, who could cause all sorts of havoc for Thai defences.

On the flipside is the eternal issue of Heberty who looks every bit the ego player for BU he was for Port. Killing breaks and ensuring he’s the centre of everything, to the detriment of the team. A squad that doesn’t quite get up to the levels of the top two contenders and the worry that that pool of strikers is a bit light if Nattawut can’t kick on to be a 20 goals a season man and/or Carter doesn’t hit the ground running.  Meaning it’s going to be a league campaign that’s more about battling for ACL qualification than the title, as third place is achievable and they have the quality to put together a decent cup run.

 

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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