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Choke’s Away! Port Coach Victim of COVID-19 Cuts

 

Life on COVID-19 lockdown is boring, and many of us struggle to pass the time. Some of us watch old Peep Show episodes on Netflix; some of us discover this amazing new site called Pornhub; some of us watch old Premiership games on Sky; some of us – ie Madame Pang – engage in our favourite hobby, sacking coaches.

Just when we were starting to go crazy at the lack of any kind of football news to report, Port dropped the biggest bombshell of the T1 season so far and announced that coach Choke had left the club. Initially it was reported that he had resigned but, speaking on Football 108 last night, it seems resignation was the last thing on his mind.  You can hear the full interview on the link or below:

 

 

Choke begins by claiming that he’s been released as, with no football happening and no matchday or TV income, Port had to reduce the budget – the only possible reason he believes, as he’d had no problems with any of the staff or players up to that point. He also claims he wasn’t fired as such – “They just stopped paying me. This is football.

Clearly unhappy with the decision, Choke goes on to say what we’ve all believed for many years – that coaches at Port have little to no input in transfers or team selection. “If I do something wrong and we lose, I’ll take responsibility” he says. “But if someone else is making the decisions and we lose I’ve still got to take responsibility. I understand it’s football, the coach has to accept responsibility, and yes I made some mistakes. But if I’m going to take all the responsibility then I’d like to make some decisions as well!

Speaking with a frankness rare in Thai football, Choke gives an insight into just how things work at Port. Talking about transfers, he says “I don’t choose players, I get them and have to put them into the team. I have some input occasionally but not much. “I’m the coach. I’m in training every day. I say this player should play here this player there. But I know I have to talk to my assistant, my assistant has to talk to Pang and Biak (Manager). But then I have to get approval, someone else is making the final decisions. So if someone else makes the decisions, what’s the point of having a coach? Sure she’s the person paying the wages, but I’m the person who has to take all the responsibility.

Choke’s coaching staff are all leaving with him, though sadly not disappointing Choke-era signings such as Tanaboon and Chenrop. Personally I can’t say I’m heartbroken at his departure – he inherited arguably the strongest squad in T1 and, with the title there for the taking, blew it, and even the much celebrated cup win was reliant on some highly questionable VAR-assisted refereeing. He was a lucky manager rather than a good one, and whilst performances in the early 2020 games suggested he was bringing back the Port swagger of old, his failure to progress in the ACL and add more silverware in the form of the Champions’ Cup meant that the axe was always likely to fall sooner rather than later. On the plus side however, he DID win a trophy, seemed to have got the team playing slightly more disciplined (if less attractive) football, and showed much more willingness to blood youngsters than any of his predecessors.

In particular Jadet, who returns for his third stint as coach, having seen off Zico and Choke. The wily old chubster will no doubt be welcomed back by the players, with whom he remains very popular, and, should the season start again, we’ll no doubt see a succession of swaggering wins, followed by a 6-game slump, followed by Jadet being replaced by a younger Thai coach who will take Port to third place, then get fired early in 2021 and replaced by…Jadet. In a world in chaos, it’s good to know that some things can be relied upon.

 

Thanks to Dominick Cartwright for translating the interview

 

A Moment’s Silence: Port FC vs. Nakhon Ratchasima FC Preview

 

Port kick off their 2020 campaign with what looks to be the ideal kind of fixture. A home match against Korat, who are expected to finish mid to bottom half this season, may well allow an under-performing Port to still eke out victory, which is what we need after a less than promising 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 detail.

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Chairfree PAT Of Dreams: Tom’s 2020 Season Preview

 

Port move in to 2020 with a major trophy victory from last season still fresh in the memory, as well as a pre-season trophy that’s even fresher. We’ve also made arguably the biggest signing of the window, bring in our rivals’ best player for a big pot of cash. So we should be looking at more silverware this year right, and maybe even that coveted T1 title?

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Bats in the PAT: Port FC vs. Sukhothai FC Preview

 

Port’s woeful run of form continued last Saturday with PTT Rayong snatching a victory against a team who looked flat, unconfident and lacked ideas. Jadet’s final throw of the dice as Port coach was a midfield diamond system which, despite a fortuitous win against Muangthong, didn’t click at all in the two games in which it was tried.

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Podcast

The Portcast #15: Choked Out with Tim Russell

 

The biggest Thai League news of the season so far is Port and FA Cup winning coach Choke parting ways in unusual circumstances. I talk to Sandpit editor Tim Russell about the shock move, and analyse both Choke’s surprisingly honest interview and the club’s panicked response.

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