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We’re Money and its Time to Show it. Big Scary Bear (Port) V Sea Fang (SPD): A Preview

 

“You know what? You’re like a big bear with claws, with fangs”

 

 

You could be despondent about last weekend’s defeat to Buriram and it was certainly a bit of a low. Having got ourselves excited about getting back into a 25% filled PAT stadium and a good run giving hope we could finally beat Buriram. Come the final whistle we were reminded that shorn of drums and ultras the atmosphere in the stadium, just as it was last time at 25%, isn’t much of anything. While good run or no good run, Buriram always seem to find a way to win against Port.  However, I hope Dusit has taken an unusual route this week to give the team their mojo back. As I’d just stick seminal 90s movie “Swingers” on at a team meeting.  Because the main thing the team needs is the pep talk given to John Favreau’s Mike, who has just failed to get the number of a woman in a bar, by his friend Trent (Vince Vaughn) from which the above quote is taken(watch it here). Quite simply Port need to realise that they are capable of mixing with anyone in the league. As Trent would put it….. Port “I’m tellin’ ya, you’re money”. There’s nothing to be scared of on the evidence of the league so far this season and Port have all the tools to beat anyone, it’s just a matter of learning to use them and the “rules” to the maximum.

 

“You got these f***ing claws and these fangs, man. And you’re looking at your claws and you’re lookin’ at your fangs and you’re thinkin’ to yourself, ‘I don’t know what to do’, man”

 

We weren’t any worse than Buriram last weekend as a footballing side, but we were a million miles behind them in the dark arts. Although even here there were signs of improvement. At the outset virtually every time a challenge resulted in physical contact and a Port player emerging with the ball, the opposing Buriram player would crumple to the ground. In expectation of Port putting the ball out of play or the referee stopping the game. Neither showed any willingness to do so and remarkable the propensity for Buriram players to need treatment for having been tackled soon became non existent. Good. More of this.

 

Buriram have travelled south to face two of the five teams that were widely tipped to be clear at the top of the league. Twice they’ve strangled the game, making it a tight ugly affair devoid of flair. Each game could have gone either way until it was decided by defensive errors. In Bangkok United, they found the only team that can out filth them and lost, in Port, they found a team that hasn’t quite mastered the parts of the game that exist between the rules as written and what you can get away with once the game starts and emerged victorious. After last weeks game and due to the events at some others (including Bangkok United’s you’ll be shocked to learn), there was a bit of a Twitter discussion re the time wasting and gamesmanship, with the majority across the league feeling the onus is on the clubs, coaches and players to take the lead in cleaning up the game in Thailand. Personally, I don’t think that can ever be the case. As professionals, the staff and players are paid to win games and as such pushing the rules to the limit will always be part of that. For example, there’s nothing really gained by having the ball a couple of mm’s over the line when taking a corner, yet while they’re allowed to get away with it, you’ll seldom see a ball that isn’t placed trying to gain the tiniest of margins. However, if self-policing is the way it’s going to be fixed, so be it, I can get behind it. Just rather than leading the way as one of the nice guy clubs it’s time for Port to be at the back, one step behind Buriram and Bangkok United (ok, maybe no need to ever be quite that bad). To quote Vaughn again, Port “I don’t want you to be the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone’s really hopin’ makes it happen. I want you to be like the guy in the rated R movie, you know, the guy you’re not sure whether or not you like yet. You’re not sure where he’s coming from. Okay? You’re a bad man. You’re a bad man. You’re a bad man.”

 

So tomorrow at Samut Prakan Dons if we find ourselves a goal up with 10 mins to go, I hope we barely see the ball in play before the final whistle is blown. Obviously, l’d rather we were blasting them halfway back to Pattaya as the goals fly in but if it’s necessary it’s time to get dirty. There’s a chance the worst bloke in the league is on the field, if ex Chiangrai man Chaiyawat lines up for them tomorrow, if he does, let’s use the nasty toerag as a benchmark, rather than make him the villain, as we take the moral high ground. For more about Chaiyawat and the rest of the Samut Prakan Dons (for some reason he prefers City) team and their season so far, the Sandpit got in touch with one of the best know faces in the world of Bangkok twitter and the foreign teaching scene in Thailand as we got the rundown from Ajarn.com owner and Sea Fang season ticket holder Phil Williams (read his preview of the match here).

 

“After taking just one point from their last three games, Samut Prakan have slid down the table to 8th position. Defeat against Port on Saturday could see them hovering just above the relegation zone if other results go against them as well. Although various Thai football pundits were getting excited about Samut Prakan being top of the league after a handful of games, I was under no illusions. Our squad is looking a little lightweight at the moment. You can’t let four of your best performing players leave (Peeradol, Ernesto, Teerapol and Tardelli) and there not be consequences. Those players were always going to be difficult to replace like for like. The reality is that we are probably a mid-table side at best and a mid-table finish would probably represent a decent season. Coach Ishii is doing a great job with limited resources but incoming signings have really just papered over the cracks. Eliandro has shown flashes of what he can do up front but relies on good service. Chaiyawat Buran from Chiang Rai has looked terrific but seems injury prone. I said at the start of the season (when all our big name players went off to pastures new) as long as there are three teams worse than us, we won’t go down. And my opinion hasn’t changed. I’m just happy to see us continue to play top-flight football. But at the moment, it feels like we are some way off emulating the top six finishes that we enjoyed in our first couple of seasons.”

 

Cheers Phil.

 

Port head out to Samut Prakan with some serious issues in attack. While the defence spent the early part of the season seeming to rotate itself via injury and suspension just as the back four looks settled. Our attacking options have taken a serious battering last weekend. The rejuvenated Nelson Bonilla (9) only made it to half time before succumbing to what appeared to be a groin issue, so is unlikely to feature.  While definitely out is Sergio Suarez (5) who was red carded for slapping the very slappable face of Chitipat. As a result he misses this match and next weeks home fixture against Prachuap. I’d expect them to be replaced by Patino (30) who came on at half time for Bonilla and was limited in opportunities to get into the game as Buriram killed it as an event. While the battle to take Saurez’s role is probably between Nattawut (45) and Sarsern (69), personally I’d go for Nattawut but given that Sarsern was the one of the two to get on last weekend, he might have edged ahead in the pecking order. Equally a rather disappointing showing in that substitute appearance could have handed it back.

 

Prediction.

Having been given his pep talk Mike goes back to the bar and this time succeeds in getting a number. And so it should be with Port. 2-0 to Big scary bear from Klong Toei.

 

  Fans can attend the game, with capacity limited to 25%. Tickets for the away section are currently still available from ticket melon (link). The match will be shown live on AISPLAY (possibly limited to AIS network users) at 1730 on Saturday 15th October 2021. If you don’t have a ticket or don’t fancy the trip out of Bangkok, the best way to watch with fellow Port fans is to head to The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 who will show the match on a big screen.

 

 

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The Sandpit 2021/22 Big Guess Up- Samut Prakan Dons

Pattaya United  Samut Prakan City Dons (none of that City nonsense on this site-Ed) have had a somewhat tumultuous off-season, with them seemingly gutted by other Thai League 1 clubs for their better players. It appears that the purse-strings have been sealed shut, and possibly even superglued to boot, with them not being able to bring in like for like replacements. Considering that the owners had a few illusions of grandeur when they stole relocated the team to Samut Prakan, it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth for the fans that had bought into their ideas. If it means that we never see the ridiculous 30,000 capacity stadium that they said they wanted to build: I’m all for it.

There’s been quite a lot of departures this off-season, and although I see a lot of sadness from the fans about the loss of Peeradon, for me: Teeraphol is the bigger loss. Peeradon is a pretender, a passion merchant, and someone that you can’t rely on when the going gets tough. Teeraphol, on the other hand, is always up for a battle, and can drag you out of a messy situation with a goal or two. I know which player I’d have preferred Port to sign, and it certainly wasn’t the former captain…

Add in the losses of Ernesto, Barros Tardelli, and Jakkapan: this team is barely recognizable! I’m quite intrigued by the arrival of Daisuke Sakai, whilst ChaiyaTwat is usually good for a few goals over the course of the season too.

 

Samut Prakan Dons close season transfer policy

 

Head Coach – Masatada Ishii

Samut Prakan have managed to hold onto their Japanese tactician, who I feel is probably in the top-3 for head coaches across the entire league. For me, that top-3 is: [begrudgingly] Gama, Dusit, and Ishii. Make of that what you will. I think a lot of clubs forget how important it is to have a quality head coach, with most owners preferring a puppet that they can overrule. It’s a serious issue that we’ve had at Port for far too long, but it appears that the Samut Prakan ownership have at least allowed Ishii to steer the club in the direction that he believes it needs to go. Unfortunately for him: they’ve given him a significantly worse squad this season.

Wiki currently has Ishii’s stats for Samut Prakan City at:

GAMESWINSDRAWSLOSSESWIN %
301451146.67

 

They’re some solid stats, and truthfully: the club’s in safe hands. If they can tighten up their defence this season, their lack of goalscoring prowess will be less of a problem, as I feel they’ll be involved in a lot of 1-nil games this season. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out, and the fans must be praying that ownership can do enough to convince Ishii to extend his stay even further.

 

Coach Ishii, standard polo shirt and point shot but this guy is a cut above most

Key Player – Jaroensak Wonggorn, and then Aris Zarifović

I’ve opted for the safe option of Jaroensak as my key player, although that’ll change when the owners [undoubtedly] sell him at the first opportunity they get. Jaroensak has tremendous potential, and although his end product can be a bit lacking at times: he’s a player that I have a lot of time for. I also like the fact that you barely see him posting on social media [TAKE NOTE ALL T1 PLAYERS!], which shows [to me] that he’s switched on, and committed to becoming a better player. Good on him, and I wish there was more like him.

Once Jaroensak departs, the mantle of ‘key player’ will be taken by Aris Zarifović, with the Slovenian central-defender one of the more underrated foreign players in the league. If I’m honest, I think he’s one of the better foreign central-defenders to have played in Thailand in the last 5-years, and if clubs focused on signing foreign defenders who can actually defend: there’d be less turnover of players too! If I had the opportunity to swap Rochela for Zarifović: I’d snap your hand off. That’s how highly I think of him, but [unfortunately] he’s not pretty enough to be on a billboard, so it’s highly unlikely that Pang would ever sign someone like him.

Jaroensak Wonggorn “where have all mer mates gone?”

 

My Prediction – Mid-table

This team is nothing like the team that was so impressive last season, and I feel like Masatada Ishii has been let down by ownership with the transfer manoeuvres that he’s been allowed to make. To replace Barros Tardelli with Eliandro is such a major downgrade, whilst Phoutthasay Khochalern is nowhere near as good as Zulfahmi Arifin, who they didn’t retain, and has since signed for Sukhothai. I imagine that Khochalern is a much more ‘budget friendly’ option to have, and if there’s anything that this team now screams out: it’s budget friendly.

All things considered, this squad is more than capable of surviving quite comfortably, and that’s helped by the fact that they have such a good head coach. It really wouldn’t surprised me if he gets poached by another club, like Chiangrai or Ratchaburi, and if that happens: then they could be in some trouble. Provided ownership finds some money again, it could be a single season of pain for the fans, with better times just around the corner. But if the owners are no longer interested in investing in a solid team: things could get messy.

The big question is: what club do the fans latch themselves onto if this one ceases to exist?

 

 

(The Day After) Boxing Day Massacre – Samut Prakan Dons 6 -3 Port

 

There is a tendency when teams at the top of the table lose to less fancied opposition for the reporting to focus on the failures of the title chasers and ignore the efforts of the victor. Well, strap in because this report won’t be breaking with tradition. This was a defeat purely of Port’s own making.

Having gone over two months without conceding a league goal from open play, yesterday was the day that everything went wrong. As 5 goals were gifted from open play alongside one of the most needless penalties seen in a long time. A total implosion, the kind of thing that could easily be summed up with a one word match report, it’s just hard to know which expletive to use. All that tactical awareness, planning, shape, maturity stuff you’ve been hearing about under Oud, simply disappeared. This was very much a worst of Port performance. There were spells where a pass was as likely appear intended for an opponent as a player in yellow.

 

Bonilla sums up the prevailing mood

 

There was a sense of déjà vu to the game as Port:

“….concede 2 goals in the first 10 minutes…… and generally play without any cohesive game plan. The absence of Dolah from the back four spoke volumes…….”

The quote is taken from the report of our trip to Samut Prakan last season. The difference was this was much worse. Firstly we got ourselves two down quicker, as 4 minutes in Jaroensak (11) collected the ball out wide, he’d already beaten Kevin (23) once and this time the fullback couldn’t get close enough to impede his cross which was swung over to the far post where all 5ft 9 ½ inches of Teeraphol (19) was able to head home. Tanaboon (71) is neither in the right area to clear or picking up the player. Its not a great header and Worawut (36) should really do better than to just palm it into the side netting.  The second, 2 minutes later is scored by Jaroensak, as he finds himself with acres of space on the edge of the box and unleashes a thunder bolt shot into the top corner. Its one of those goals, you can argue Kevin should have given him less space and that more often than not they go into orbit but when they come off it’s a goal of the season contender.

So with a two goal cushion the tone of the game was established, the Dons could sit back and hit on the break. Jaroensak was giving Kevin a torrid time. Port would have more of the ball (60% possession) but often appeared toothless, while the dangerous opportunity count would be somewhat more heavily stacked in favour of the hosts. Yet, after 20 minutes a lifeline was offered as Pakorn (7), stretching for his own miss control, challenges Suphanan (4) and the ball hits the defenders arm. As with Worawut (24) vs. Ratchaburi, it really would be better if this wasn’t a penalty but the (current bad) rule is clear and there really shouldn’t be the prolonged VAR review. Here, the narrative deviates from last season as Suarez (5), just shy of 4 minutes after the incident occurs puts the penalty away to give Port hope, if they can start playing to their ability they might get back into the game.

 

That face you pull when your new team concede 6.

 

A theory sadly dispelled by the defence who, if they started the game looking hungover, spent the latter part of the half looking like they’d used the VAR review to down shots of sherry. That’s one way to make the game interesting. Not to be outdone, Siwakorn (16 units and counting) then gives away a penalty as Yuto (23) collected Tanaboon’s clearance (or more a pass to the opposition) and the deity of the sandpit, takes what appears to be a drunkard tumble into the back of the Japanese player just inside the box. After a 2 minute VAR review, the only reasons l can guess that it took more than 15 seconds were A) the VAR team were in on the drinking game or B) like everyone else they needed a few looks to try and figure out what Siwakorn thought he was attempting (I still don’t have a clue and I’m into double digit views). 3-1. Things weren’t so bad at the other end as Bonilla (99) headed an opportunity a little too well into the ground and it sailed over the bar. Then midway through the 2 minutes stoppage time, because with over 6 minutes of time lost to VAR alone, 2 minutes is the logical amount of time to add on, Pakorn sends a good cross in for Adisak (9) to head home. 3-2. Hope springs eternal and all that, if Oud just bashes some heads and breaks out the black coffee maybe we can still nick something from this car crash.

Except things really don’t get any better in the second half. After 55 minutes there’s more shambolic defending before the ball is laid off for Suphanan, who’s tame shot l’d back myself to save, even after a few bottles of Baileys, Worawut somehow manages to dive over the ball and it rolls into the bottom corner to re-establish the two goal cushion. Which last 15 minutes, in which time Adisak manages to fluff a one on one before Patiwat (1) and Aris (27) decide to join in with the gift giving or maybe just found Ports sherry stash from the first half and present Bonilla the ball a couple of yards out, who can’t fail to score.

So 4-3, time for a famous come back that will be spoken about for years and glosses over the substandard performance. Not a chance, Port have Boli (94) (who must wonder what he’s signed up to) and Tanasith (11) on for Pakorn and Siwakorn and go all gung ho. A little too gung ho, as the move the sums the game up leads to a Dons fifth, Tanaboon stands on the ball before playing it to Bonilla who’s back heel isn’t within 10ft of a Port player. A couple of quick passes reveal that Port have pushed everyone at least 15 yards into the attacking half and Jaroensak, finding himself well clear of the defence, flies into the Port area before squaring the ball to Tardeli (37) who scores. Aris then adds the sixth with a textbook headed corner, you’d hope Santa or another Nordic type might have stopped him had they been on the field, but neither were.

Thankfully it was over. 6-3, and frankly enough to drive you to drink.

Any lingering hopes of a title challenge are all but gone, with Port now 10 points behind BG with a game in hand: away to Chiangrai on the 5th January (assuming all their players remember their kit, don’t have doctors notes about ingrowing toenails etc). Even with a win its hard to imagine a 7 point gap being made up.

 

Man of the Match

Adisak. A tough choice, given how bad it was. However the goal machine gets it, not because he scored but for one moment, after 67 minutes Samut Prakan were again breaking through the lines and there was one player determinedly tracking the ball carrier deep into our half before putting a big challenge. I expected to see Go’s number 8 shirt when the tackler rose but instead it was Adisak. When all was going to the dogs around him, 4-2 down, the striker was still there giving 100%. On a grim evening, it was about as good as it got for Port.

 

Goalscorer, tackler, trier.