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Port Accrue Big ‘Det: Coach Signs New Contract for 2018

 

Prior to the club’s final game of the 2017 season on Saturday, Mme Pang has announced that coach Jadet’s services have been retained for 2018. Since taking back his place on the bench following the bizarre and unsuccessful Zico experiment, Jadet’s league record reads played 5, won 4, drawn 1, with that draw coming against Muangthong, and a season that looked like fizzling out or worse, turning into a relegation battle, has been turned around, with Port only needing a point in their last game to guarantee a top half finish.

In an interview with Goal, La Pang revealed that she is, and this is from Google Translate lest you think I’m being naughty, “glad to be able to make a happy end to the fans.” Bet those of you who left early on Saturday are regretting it now eh? She also stated that next season will be tough with 5 clubs going down, and that the club are already planning for next season.

As for Jadet, whilst I still don’t think he’s the guy to take Port up to the next level, it’s hard to argue with his achievements since taking over midway through 2016. Promotion back to T1, a League Cup semi-final, THAT win over Muangthong and a top 10 T1 finish for a club who cannot compete financially with most of the teams around them, is a pretty damned impressive record. But with 5 teams facing the drop next season and Pang likely to splash more cash than usual during the close season, the pressure will be on the big fella from day 1 and a slow start could well see our fragrant chairwoman wield the axe. Whatever happens, you’ll read about it on The Sandpit!

 

Jadet’s Return Ensures Port’s Happy Ending: Pattaya Utd 2-5 Port FC

Like most people I had this nailed on as another away loss against an in form Pattaya United. I had not reckoned on Jadet “the miracle worker” Meelarp. I thought he’d done a competent job at Port, but just saw him as a safe pair of hands.

So on to Sunday with Pakorn (9) hobbling around PAT Stadium and Nittipong (34) suspended due to a red card on Wednesday Jadet had to shuffle the team around. He started with 5 defenders: Meechok (20), Dolah (4), Todsapol (6), Rochela (22), and Panpanpong (19). I thought the main aim of this team was to stop the rot, and maybe sneak an away point. Port played with a back four and had Rochela sitting in front of them as a very defensive midfielder

Without Pakorn and Nittipong our options going forward were always going to be limited. So this was not the expected start. 25 seconds into the game we had a shot on target and within 90 seconds we’d scored. Panpanpong floated in a corner, and Josimar (30) fought his way through the crowd to head in from 6 yards out. A great start, but this was the same heady optimism that greeted the first goal against Chonburi only to be sadly snuffed out. 88 minutes to go in the game, it can’t be that easy, it never is. However Panpanpong only needed 3 more minutes to turn provider again from a free kick. Central defender Todsapol craftily got in between two defenders and headed in, then celebrated like all his birthdays had come at once. Five minutes, two goals, the new manager bounce turned into some sort of magic trampoline act.

 

After more settled play Pattaya started making some headway down the left side. Dolah was dispossessed after a cheeky nudge in the back from Stojanovic (18). Dolah then tried his best to pull him back by the shirt and keep Stojanovic and the foul outside the area. There was minor contact, but the shirt pulling followed by a handy dive convinced the ref to go to the spot. Lee Wonyoung stood up to take the penalty, went for the chip right down the middle and it was 2-1.

Port came right back two minutes later, with what can only be considered the gift of the season. The Pattaya keeper took a fairly easy high ball, then proceeded to release it as his hands came down. The ball dropped at his feet to be met by a wide eyed Todsapol, who was running towards goal to catch the chance of a rebound. I don’t think he could believe it, I had to watch it 3 times before I did.

Mongkol had been enjoying harassing the young Meechok for most of the first half. Just before the break he came a cropper as he picked up his second yellow. Port 3-1 up and playing against ten men in the second half. Surely we have to ….. I can hear Del’s words  “Don’t say it Dom, you know what happened last time. Don’t jinx it.”

Port started the second half well, looking to go forward not just to settle. Pattaya brought on two subs trying to cancel out being a man down. One of the subs Jevtic (30) seemed to be intent on falling over any time the ball came near him in the box. Unfortunately on his third trip to the ground the referee bought it. Dolah was standing next to him, but this time he can feel incredibly hard done by as Jevtic managed to pull a dive out of thin air. Jevtic slotted the penalty home in the 72nd minute. Suddenly all the ghosts of games past seemed to loom large.

Those ghosts materialised before Port’s eyes as Stojanovic was bearing down on the Port goal with only Worawut(36) in front of him. Worawut pulled off an excellent point blank save.

 

Minutes later Tana(99) found himself with tons of space in the box, but in a shock move unselfishly set up Josimar with a golden opportunity. Josi, please don’t just stand there like Cantona, from that reaction I’d thought you’d hit the side netting! It was 4-2 to Port and time to celebrate. Suarez (6) polished off the night with a great run at the end. He shrugged off one challenge, beating the next then booted home the 5th ! yes 5th ! Port goal. Is that the most we’ve scored all season? It must be, it might be, I don’t care.

This result along with the home draw against Buriram and the win, yes a win against Muangthong, provide proof of Meelarp’s miraculous powers.  Let’s see how many more miracles Jadet has left in 2017.

Port now sit in 11th with 37 points, 14 points clear of ailing Sisaket on 23 points in 16th. 5 more games to go this season 15 points to play for. A win against Korat at home, or even just another loss from Sisaket would see us mathematically assured of a place in T1 next year.

 

Sack Race Gets Off To Flying Start – Jadet Next To Go?

 

Never again let it be said that Thailand lags behind the footballing powerhouses of the world. The Brazils, Spains and Germanys of this world may produce technically wonderful players and world class clubs, but when it comes to the sack race? Give me Thailand every time. Indeed, so renowned is Thailand becoming for its’ mastery in the under-appreciated art of sack-racing, they have even exported their craft to the home of football itself – England. Premier League champions Leicester, no less, saw their miraculous league-winning tinkerman unceremoniously shown the trapdoor by top Thai sack-merchant Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

On the day that Thai sack-racing cemented its’ supremacy, pundits and journalists alike said it simply couldn’t be done. The lovable granddad who overcame 5,000-1 odds to lead the Foxes to the most remarkable league triumph in modern history couldn’t just be replaced by some chubby bloke no one had ever heard of called Craig. But replace him they did, and it paid immediate dividends, as the chubby bloke oversaw two stunning wins in his first two games in charge.

Meanwhile, back in Thailand, Sisaket boss Dusit Chalermsan was the first out of the door after just three games, and once again his sacking was rewarded by an immediate three points. Maybe there’s something to this managerial merry-go-round malarkey. If there is, then you’ll want to put a few shekels on Super Power Samut Prakan and Sukhothai picking up three points this weekend, as their managers Chalermwut Sa-ngaphol and Somchai Makmul have just got the chop after game week five, essentially guaranteeing The Power (yes, really) and The Fire Bats victory.

So what of the undisputed 2015 sack-race champions, not just of Thailand but the world? A breathtaking run of five managers in a single season put Port FC atop international sack-race standings, although they were not exactly rewarded with the success on the pitch, suffering TPL relegation. The following season, Port supremo Madame Pang tried another approach, experimenting with just two managers and winning promotion back to the top flight. In 2017 though, the same manager who brought Port back to the big time is looking increasingly likely to be the next to go, after some bizarre team selections have resulted in two humiliating defeats away from home.

Jadet Meelarp, who led Chonburi to a league triumph in 2007, has increasingly been drawing criticism from the Port fans for his inconsistent and downright confusing decisions in recent weeks. For the opening three games, he steadfastly refused to pick Tatchanon (39), widely regarded as Port’s best holding midfielder. He finally relented for the home tie with Navy, where Port kept their first clean sheet and Tatchanon gave a midfield master-class which surely assured his place in the team going forward. But no, for the away trip to Honda Tatchanon was dropped from the matchday squad altogether, and lost boy Siwapong (97) was given what should be his first and last start in a Port shirt before being hauled off early with the game already as good as lost.

Jadet’s next head-scratcher was the inclusion of flappy bird Weera (1) in goal. The man who you wouldn’t trust to hold your beer while you tie your shoelaces was inexplicably preferred to excellent young stopper Rattanai (17) and obvious second-choice Worawut (36). He proceeded to fumble and bumble his way through 90 calamitous minutes, being directly responsible for two of the five goals, and proving every Port fan right who nearly choked on their Leo after seeing his name in the starting lineup.

And this is just the game at Thai Honda. The week three clash with Bangkok Utd away saw the inexplicable inclusion of 34 year old Suchon (11) while natural right-winger Nitipong (34) was played in defence against one of the finest attacking teams in the league. Suchon looked a mile off the pace throughout, while Nitipong looked like a fish out of water in defence as Port shipped six and never looked like getting in to the game.

The trend that seems to be emerging if we look at all of these decisions as a whole, is that Jadet seems to want to just give everyone a go on the pitch. It doesn’t matter how good you are; as long as everyone gets a turn, then that’s the most important thing. With this attitude, Jadet will do a fine job coaching a school team once he does get sacked by Port, but this is T1 and if you want to stay in the league, picking your best players week in week out is a pre-requisite.

Jadet’s situation isn’t quite as simple as I’m making it out to be, though. Is he even the one picking the team every week? We know he isn’t giving the pre-match team talks, and that there is a constant presence on the bench with authority far greater than his. The extent to which this is a factor we just don’t know, but with that presence set to remain in place for the foreseeable future, would a change in management likely give the team a lift, and could another manager given the prevailing conditions get more out of this squad? I think so, and most Port fans seem to agree.

With a three week break coming up after Saturday’s tough test against giants Buriram, it would seem to be the ideal time to make the change in the likely event of Port’s first home defeat of the season. With former Port managers Dusit Chalermsan and Gary Stevens in the market for a job, speculation is understandably rife that Port’s axe-wielder-in-chief will ensure that Port finish fourth in the sack-race and that Jadet will be looking for a new job come Sunday.

I for one will have mixed feelings. Do I think Jadet is a great manager? No. Do I think Port will be better off with a new man at the helm? Yes. But do I think sacking him is likely to remove the root of the problem? I’m afraid not.

 

2016 Season Review: Great Expectations

A disappointing 2015 saw Port relegated to Division 1. 2016 started off with some impressive signings and a heady confidence that we wouldn’t be in the second tier for long. The first and most impressive of the signings was Thiago Cunha (10) from Chonburi, he was joined by two Brazilian Midfielders Maranhao (29) and Wagner (35). Along with Pakorn (9) Pinyo (21) and Tana (5) from Division 1 championship winning Police United. Looking at the squad list on day one Port had assembled the best group of 35 in the league.

 

Port had a great start with 9 wins and 4 draws. We were top of the league and looked like favourites for the Division 1 championship, but other teams also had impressive records. Ubon UMT held Port to a draw in Ubon and were the main early contenders for the title. Port’s results were good, but often revolved around a few bits of great individual play. This Port team looked great at times but disjointed at others. We had enough good players to beat average Division 1 teams but the drawn matches showed this team was not going to walk the league. The Division 1 championship was going to be decided by which of the top 5 or 6 teams dropped the least points in a top heavy league. Port’s first loss away to Ang Thong FC flagged them up as possible promotion challengers. Thai Honda joined Ubon UMT with decent early form.

 

After the loss to Ang Thong and a draw against Rayong FC worse was to come. Port went on to throw away a two goal lead to last placed Bangkok United. Serious questions being asked about whether Port had any chance of winning the Division 1 title. Then came the first home loss of the season to a well organised but mid-table Prachuap FC. This probably sealed manager Wada’s fate. He’d done a reasonable job at the back end of last season and the beginning of 2016, but it wasn’t going to be enough to save him from Madam Pang wielding the axe. His results weren’t dreadful, but with the squad available Port were underperforming.

 

New manager Jadet Melarp came in and secured an FA Cup win against BEC Tero. Under Jadet Port went on to beat promotion rivals Ang Thong FC when they visited PAT Stadium. He’d knocked a few heads together and the future looked rosy for Port.

 

Unfortunately the next game saw Jadet make the odd decision to switch a winger in to defence exposing an already troubled back line. The strong Thai Honda attack really shut down any chance of a win for Port. We should have been aiming for at least a draw against Honda but the result showed that Port were vulnerable against the top clubs. With this win Honda took control of the race for top spot. The next Port loss 5-1 away to Chiang Mai sounded serious alarm bells back at the PAT. Chiang Mai had a reasonable side, but Port were looking to take 3 points from this game. They ended up being battered 5-1. It was a body blow for Port’s promotion hopes. Coming in between the two mid-week cup games Port were paying the price for a good run of form in both cups. Tired legs and a long trip up North to Chiang Mai did for Port, they never got into the game.

 

Port’s Cup form was a highlight of the season. Beating a decent Bangkok Glass team 1-0 at home, Navy away and Sisaket back at the PAT. Port had developed the infuriating ability to turn it on against the big clubs, then falter against average league opposition.

 

Thai Honda and Ubon UMT weren’t dropping many points towards the end of the season. Port’s championship bid slowly turned into a chase for the last promotion place. Ang Thong, Songklaa and Air Force were all within striking distance of Port if they slipped up. A 6-2 demolition of Samut Songkram set up a promotion clash against Air Force, lead by everyone’s favourite Ex-Port manager Sasom. He had just seen his side dispatch Bangkok United 5-0 and announced in the press he believed Air Force were going spoil Port’s promotion hopes. Port had only narrowly beaten Air Force away. This game would be a chance to control our own destiny in the promotion race or get dragged into a tight four horse race with Air Force, Ang Thong and Songklaa.  In a close game Port beat Air Force 2-0 and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. There was a party atmosphere at PAT as it looked like the job was nearly done. But before Nakhon Pathom in the league there was Muangthong away.

 

In the first leg of the league cup semi-final Port looked solid only losing by one goal to a Muangthong side dominant in the TPL. The second leg of the semi-final saw a tight game with Muangthong holding on for a 1-1 draw getting them through to the final. The match saw some serious fan violence after the game. With these incidents it’s always difficult to tell who started and who retaliated. Both sets of fans were at fault at different times. The beating of a lone Port fan near the exit road of the away end, was probably the key trigger to the ensuing violence. The violence meant both sets of fans would be banned from the stands for the last 5 games of the season.

 

Port still had a crucial game in the league three days later. Another win and promotion would be nearly certain. Next up were a lackluster Nakhon Pathom side that Port had beaten 6-1 at home and hadn’t won in their last five. Three points in the bag for sure, unfortunately Nakhon Pathom hadn’t read that script. They ran a shocked Port side around chalking up a 2-1 win, they could’ve easily scored a few more. Maybe the aftermath of the Muangthong game affected the players, I think it was more likely the highly charged atmosphere and the come down from such a close defeat against the top side in the TPL. This shattered side sleep walked into Nakhon Pathon expecting to be handed the three points.

 

Reflecting on the loss to Nakhon Pathom and the pummeling in Chiang Mai, Jadet played a weakened side away to Sukothai in the FA Cup. A team half starters half subs bowed out of the FA Cup in the quarter finals. This set up a real test of a home game against an already promoted Ubon UMT. A nervous make or break game for Jadet and Port. It was a quiet day at PAT stadium with only Ubon UMT fans allowed in, and Port fans watching the match at the Port Futsal stadium on the big screen. The Futsal Stadium is essentially a warehouse with four big fans plonked in it. The event was a cross between viewing a football match and a 1980’s rave. As Port went 3-1 up flares were lit up, and everyone ended the night all loved up. This win put Port safely in third place. Port needed only one point from the last two games to make promotion a mathematical certainty.

 

On 13th October 2016 King Bhumibol Adulyadej died at the age of 88 after a long illness. The death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej meant the whole country entered a period of mourning. The Thai F.A. decided to end the 2016 season early cancelling the last two fixtures for all clubs. This left Port in third place promoted along with Thai Honda first and Ubon UMT second.

 

 

End of Term Report: Jadet Meelarp

After a great start to the season Port faltered. The early form was built on very good individual performances saving a disjointed team. Coming up to mid-season Port stuttered throwing away a two goal lead at Bangkok F.C. and losing to Prachuap at home. The 2016 season that was meant to be a procession turned into a promotion battle. Another old shark Masahiro Wada, did a fair job at the end of last year nearly saving Port. He just wasn’t able to gel a squad of very good individual players together.

 

The Jadet Meelarp appointment wasn’t met with much approval, most fans wanted to see our old coach Dusit tempted away from a mid-table Prajuap F.C. Jadet’s poor record at PTT didn’t inspire any confidence. The 2016 PTT team picked up a bit after Jadet left, only to slip back with a criminally poor run at the end of their season. Suggesting he might have been managing to hold a poor team together.

 

The new manager effect helped out Jadet he came in with a couple of good wins. Then away to a strong Thai Honda team Jadet had fans shaking their heads when our Japanese winger was played in defence. The schoolboy error had no real logic to it, Gengki isn’t that good even playing where he should be. Out of position he was all over the place. Port lost, Thai Honda and Ubon UMT started to cement the top two spots and things looked difficult for Port.

 

After this hiccup Jadet took a bit more control and with a couple more wins, we were back on track. Port were playing a less disjointed game but still fighting for promotion. Misfiring Thiago wasn’t happy and attacking midfielder Pakorn often Port’s saviour with winning free kicks was intent on never passing the ball after he made 5 yards. The height of Pakorn’s arrogance and poor temper came when he booted the ball into Zone A in reaction to getting subbed. This tantrum lost possession for Port. Jadet came out in the press saying he needed to stop throwing his toys out of the pram if he wanted to stay in the team. Fair comment and he seemed to calm down the situation.

 

One reason to expect good things from Jadet was his history of managing Thiago, but he was used to Thiago 2015. However the new model 2016 Thiago expected to get played even without the goals. Thiago probably ended up doing the best thing he could do, helping his old friend Jadet by walking out the broken door. Was this a masterstroke from Jadet? I doubt it. I think it was probably just a result of Thiago threatening to leave, and Jadet not caving in to his demands to start every game. This exit gave us the chance to bring back another foreign player. The replacement was a holding midfielder Wagner. He added a bit of back bone to the team and rescued a bit of team spirit. Wagner was exactly the player Port needed. Why we got rid of him mid-season no one knows.

 

Jadet binned off the FA Cup Game against Sukothai playing a team of subs. I never like seeing this, but it did pay off. The next game saw Port win 2-1 home against a recently promoted Ubon UMT team. This left Port only needing one point from the last two games. Jadet has a record he can be happy with. It wasn’t his team but he came in and did a decent job.

 

Jadet has just been confirmed as Port’s new coach for 2017. Will he get to build a team? I doubt it. Madam Pang’s management group will probably search out a group of marquee names again, rather than building a team. Under the new Madam Pang regime, I’m not sure the Coach has that much control over who they bring in. And most coaches aren’t normally around long enough to find out how to put a team together. I think he’s a fair choice for 2017. We are better off with someone who is used to the set up under Pang. He will have to make it to Songkran next year to equal the longest serving manager of the Pang era, Masahiro Wada’s lengthy ten month spell. I’m interested to see if Chonburi have a new coach down the line. Considering Port’s hiring policy maybe Therdsak will come along to replace Jadet in 2018.