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An Underdog Story: Muangthong Utd vs. Port FC Preview

 

A rather quaint old feeling surrounds today’s trip to the SCG. With MTU currently on top form and Port in a slump, we almost feel like the underdogs we used to be in this tie. For once, the fact that Port fans will be forced to watch on the tele is not that annoying, as we probably wouldn’t be allowed in to Legoland regardless of the current situation.

Taking on the mentality of underdogs may be a bit tricky considering the supposed calibre of players at our disposal, but I’m going to take on the task of motivating the boys myself by giving them my absolutely honest assessment on tonight’s opposition. With this brutally frank dissection of the favourites, the lads are going to be scared straight, and put in the kind of performance that saw us deliver shock Slum vs. Scum defeats in… well, just about every match-up in recent memory.

 

 

Muangthong Utd

The Redvolution

 

Starting out with between the sticks, Port will be devastated that Dang Van Lam is no longer between the sticks, as future first choice Thai national team goalkeeper Somporn Yos (29) replaces him. This young man towers above opposition forwards, with his 1.78m (5ft 10) frame making him as imposing at claiming crosses as he is in one-on-one situations. The 5 times he has been sent out on loan by his parent clubs are yet further evidence of the high regard he has been held in by both BEC Tero and now Muangthong, who even went as far as turning down the chance to sign Kawin Thamsatchanan from Leuven, such was their faith in Somporn’s ability.

 

 

At the back there are an embarrassment of riches to choose from. Should I start with Wattanakorn Sawatlakhorn (30), whose ratio of assists per game is bettered only by his ratio of tattoos to… non tattoos? Future first choice Thai national team left back Wattanakorn seems to have modelled himself on Port star Charyl Chappuis, with the prominent tattoos and IG model girlfriend jut two of the many weapons at his disposal.

 

 

Speaking of weapons, we move straight on to another towering defensive unit. Future first choice Thai national team centre back Saringkan Promsupa (15) makes Nurul look small. At 1.75m (5ft 10) Saringkan assures that Port centre back Dolah (4) will have no chance of getting his head on any set-piece deliveries in to Muangthong’s impenetrable box.

In midfield, Muangthong also have more options than they know what to do with. Future first choice Thai national team ludisto Weerathep Pomphan (18) is arguably the main threat. Specializing in the key pass to the key pass, Weerathep plays the pass that leads to the pass which leads to an assist as well if not better than anyone in the league. Coach Oud would be well advised to stick two players, if not three, on Weerathep, just to be safe. It’s the respect the signing from Chamchuri United deserves.

 

 

Up top is where it really gets ugly. For Port. With 19 strikes to date (according to Wikipedia), Derley (87) has scored more goals for Muangthong than any other club in his illustrious career, and at 33 years old he probably still has time to get in to the twenties for the very first time. A classic centre forward, future first choice Brazil national team striker Derley excels at holding the ball up, bringing others in to play and let’s not forget: scoring goals. Derley has notched 11 to date this season, just 8 behind top scorer Barros Tardelli, while he has even scored almost as many as centre back Victor Cardozo.

 

 

In charge is a manager whose achievements really speak for themselves. Mario’s demure pitch-side demeanour, combined with an incredibly sharp eye for set-piece preparation, has led to a remarkable uptick in free kick goals. The future Thai national team boss has earned the respect of both his own players and the opposition too, with the calm exchange of views with Bonilla after the final whistle in the sides’ last encounter exemplifying just how far Mario is above the fray. Any manager who is so focused on his job that he forgets to get fully dressed is a man fully committed to learning his craft, that’s for sure.

 

 

Form

Theirs is better than ours. Obviously. Further details are not required.

 

Port FC

The Underdogs

 

Port boss Oud has had a good run in the hot-seat, but the wheels have fallen off in recent times. After an enforced break in T1 action, Port returned with a side that was barely recognizable from the one Oud had been so successful with. Players who had performed so well to put Port in a strong position in the league were left out, while bigger names who have proven less in a Port shirt were preferred. I could name names, but you’re probably all bored of me laying in to Tanaboon (71) and Chappuis (17) anyway.

With the decline in form clear to see, Port are reportedly already looking for a replacement, so it’s anyone’s guess who will be picking the team for today’s big game.

Here’s what I’d do.

Rattanai (18) keeps his place, after an outstanding performance last time out. Nitipong (34) gets a right telling off for repeatedly poor performances, but still gets to play because there’s no one better. Worawut (24) and Dolah (4) continue in central defence, and Jaturapat (21) gets a chance to impress on the left until Kevin is fit. He’s hungry, and whilst Steuble is a decent option, I like a natural leftie with Bordin usually cutting inside on to his right.

Kannarin (31) anchors the midfield, giving Go (8) a bit more freedom to get forward and score excellent volleys. Siwakorn misses out, as he needs to be reminded that he doesn’t start by default.

Nattawut (45) gets a well-deserved go on the right wing. His end product is far better than Nurul’s, and he’s more than deserving of a start in a position where we really don’t seem to have a better idea. The less said about Adisak on the right wing the better. Bordin (10) continues on the left, as does Suarez (5) through the middle. I trust both will return to form in due course.

Up top is a tough one, but I’m going to give Boli (94) an hour to bully the Muangthong defence, and bring Boni (99) on when they’re a bit tired.

 


 

We’re the underdogs, remember? It’s not about picking the best players, but keeping things fresh and having players on the pitch who are going to do whatever it takes to deliver us a massive derby win. Come on, boys!

 


 

The match will be shown live on NBT 2HD and the AIS Play app. Kick off is at 18:30.

 

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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