Glory, Glory, Muang Thong, Apparently


Well, the road to hell is paved, as I think is well-documented by now, with good intentions and my plan to keep up to date with the Thai Premier League will condemn me to an eternity of endless and increasingly intensifying torment. And I think most people will agree that is fair enough. However, in a lost moment, last-ditch attempt to escape the Gates of Oblivion in Faustian fashion, I note here that the last week of the season has just passed. Congratulations to the Muang Thong Impac Centres for winning the league – in fact wrapping it up a week early.

To be entirely honest, there has not been a great deal of drama about the league and its results since the teams that started at the top stayed at the top and the teams at the bottom stayed at the bottom. Teams tended to beat the teams below them in the league and lose to those above them. Perhaps next year will be more dramatic as we have the newly promoted Police United Brownshirts, the Army Cutthroats and the Si Sa Ket Scallywags, who pipped the Khon Kaen Killer Hedgehogs on the last day of the season (rumours that the teams who beat the army turn up again stuffed into containers at the bottom of the ocean are obviously untrue and not even that amusing).

Relegated this year were the Sri Racha Ratchets, the Nakhon Pathom No Names and (ha ha) the Chulalongkorn Hippocratic Oath Breakers.

As usual, those who like betting are advised to bet on the relegated teams to come back up again and the promoted teams to go back down again.

Apparently, new national manager Bryan ‘Brainy’ Robson has observed that the pitches are not very flat and this has hindered the players from executing the passing game that would help them at international level. That is certainly true – however, even the national team has to play on some pitches that look like the habitat of a particularly burrowsome variety of mole.

Peter Reid on Why He Left Thailand


In an interview in the Guardian this weekend, former manager of Thailand Peter Reid made it quite clear that it was the desire to be involved in club football in its more intensive and indeed feverish day-to-day activity that caused him to leave the Land of Smiles and go to Stoke (Land of … ?):

“I’d been in football since I was 15 at Bolton Wanderers and then, when you find yourself out of it, the first couple of days are OK but, after that, bloody hell, it’s hard work,” he says. “You go two weeks and it is already driving you crackers. You wake up, you haven’t got any football problems, life should be great but, bloody hell again, what do you do?” It was not about the money, I think it is reasonable to infer.

On the one hand, he seemed to be making some progress in his work (albeit failing to win the big matches he was expected to win). A little unfortunately, he displayes the level of cultural awareness that is typical of many of my fellow expatriates:

“I didn’t even know the players’ names when I arrived so I had to call them by their numbers. Then I found out they all had nicknames so I ended up writing them down and trying to memorise them. I had a goalkeeper called ‘Boy’. There was ‘Bird’, ‘Car’, ‘Mooey’, ‘Cop’, ‘Coal’ and we got around it that way. I got my boots on sometimes to join in the training if I was struggling to make a point. And we did well.”

Readers who might recall a certain documentary series about Khun Peter during his stint at Sunderland, when he introduced to the viewing public a level of verbal discourse subsequently entitled ‘industrial swearing’ will understand his situation here:

“I did my homework and I was told you can’t give them a bollocking like you can here. In England, some players can take a bollocking, some can’t. But over there it was a cultural thing. They called it ‘face’ – if you embarrassed them they lost face, and that was very important to them. I’d get frustrated sometimes but I just had to rein it in.”

As I have observed before, Bryan Robson is a manager in the same vein as Reid (so far as I can tell but, then, what do I know about anything?) and I fear he will not do any better. Time to start memorizing those nicknames …

It’s Robson


Well, it seems to be official – the new manager of the Thai national football team will be Bryan Robson, once captain of Manchester United and England and a wonderful footballer in his own right. Robson has apparently signed a four-year deal and should be in charge for the Asian Cup, the Olympics and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – his first test will be home and away qualifying matches against Singapore for the Asian Cup in November – that will be a tough assignment, readers might recall that Singapore beat Thailand recently (as also did Vietnam in the SE Asian Tiger Cup Championship, the name of which momentarily escapes me).

Expecting Robson to guide Thailand to the World Cup is excessively ambitious: “The 52-year-old Robson is expected to build a squad capable of reaching the 2014 World Cup finals.” Thailand is not particularly close to getting to the World Cup and seems unlikely to be much closer in the foreseeable future. I have been over the main reasons for this before – lack of fitness, weak domestic league, poor organization and so forth. Is Robson really the man to do something about this? His managerial reputation is mostly based on his tenure at Middlesboro, when he took them up to the top flight and kept them there for a while – even reaching cup finals which were lost. During this period, he relied on the extraordinary loyalty shown by owner Steve Gibson (currently benefiting Gareth Southgate) and the funds to sign marquee players such as Ravanelli and Juninho. Relegation eventually came in a season during which the club failed to turn up for a fixture at Blackburn, as I recall, owing apparently to an illness crisis which left the manager unable to field a team – and a three point penalty was subsequently enforced. Irrespective of the nature of the injury crisis, the whole matter was handled gauchely.

Robson’s other stints as manager were at Bradford, West Brom and Sheffield United, all of which seemed to be disappointing in terms of results and in terms of the unattractive brand of football served up on the various parks. He has been out of management for a while and linked with a range of jobs without securing any of them. He has no experience of Asia or Asian football, so far as I can tell. I would be surprised if he made it to the end of his four-year contract but good luck to him anyway.

Reid Out; Robson In?


Well, it is official that the old monkey-heid Peter Reid is no longer manager of Thailand – the Thai FA is talking it up as if they had some choice in the matter and had found Reid wanting (he is accused of insulting Thailand etc in the usual tedious xenophobic way) when the truth is that he had the opportunity to return to the English Prem as assistant to Tony Pulis at Stoke and that was more attractive than hanging around here – it is not, I imagine, a question of quality of life as Bangkok and Thailand probably trump Stoke in this respect (I mean no particular disrespect to the good people of Stoke – I don’t really need to, do I?). It is more a combination of the desire to return to the day-to-day involvement with a club (and games coming thick and fast) in contrast to managing a national team such as Thailand, in which there is not a huge amount to be done outside of monitoring local teams and the few Thais playing professionally overseas, while preparing the players for the few internationals that are organised.

Reid did not do a particularly bad job: he identified the principal problem of lack of fitness and set about to improve that and performances were a little better as a result (the other problems surround the non-competitive nature of much domestic football but there is not much he could do about that, given the nature of ownership of resources and institutions in this country).

So who is in the frame for replacing the departing Reid? Step forward former captain of England (who once, on Spitting Image, suffered complete severance of the head but was still optimistic of playing on) Bryan Robson. Robson has a mixed record in management: he started off OK at Middlesboro (they were promoted to the top division in the year we finished second and failed to go up in the Bolton Play-off disgrace) but then faded and his subsequent stints at Sheffield United and elsewhere are not so well regarded – the problems stem from not just unspectacular results but an amorphous playing style which fails to excite. Frankly, I would doubt that he would be the right person for the job (when they really need someone young and hungry like Brendan Rodgers, who of course has recently taken over at the Mad Stad). We will see.

Thailand 1 Liverpool 1


So it finished 1-1 at the Rajamangala last night, with Ryan Babel scoring for Liverpool in the first half and Sutee Suksomkit equalizing in the second half for the Thai national team. I didn’t see the match myself but it does not appear to have been a thrilling spectacle. Most of the Liverpool players on show were reserves and the big star Fernando Torres came on for just the last ten minutes (their other big star, Steven Gerrard, is in the UK on trial for affray). Thai national team coach Peter Reid (of monkey heid fame, inter alia) professed himself very pleased with the performance.

Now the Liverpool party are heading off to Singapore (well, presumably they landed overnight) and their official website is trumpeting the success of the visit to Thailand and how so many Thai people love them and they love Thailand and so on and so forth.

Mission accomplished, therefore: Liverpool get their merchandising and marketing boost, the fans get a chance to see some of their heroes and the Thai players get a chance to play against a higher level of opponent, albeit opponents who have only been back in training for a short period and unwilling to throw themselves around in the warm Bangkok night (we did have quite a large thunderstorm last night but not, I think, until after the game was over – accompanied by a power cut in my corner of Ladprao). Should we get worked up about exploitation, cultural hegemony, neo-imperialism and all stuff that people get worked up about? Perhaps not this time – the visit did not coincide with any significant local football event (unlike Man Utd’s proposed visit to Malaysia last year I think it was which threatened to undermine the progress of the local national team) and it has made some people happy. The last time Liverpool came, they stayed in a hotel opposite several of Khun Chuwit’s many night-time entertainment centres – I don’t for a moment suggest that any of the party crossed the road in the interest of healthy curiosity and I don’t know where they stayed this time. No doubt these healthy young men are under strict orders from their coaches and WAGS.

Liverpool in Bangkok, 2009


The Liverpool football team is in town, preparing for a mach against the Thai national team tomorrow. The match will be held at the Rajamangkala stadium (so watch out for the traffic). Not everyone has turned up, of course, since leading player Steven Gerrard has remained in the UK to face charges in court – he will face them alone, apparently, as his six co-defendants have all pleaded guilty to charges surrounding a brawl in a Southport Night Club (not really a night club, though) which left a man badly wounded.

Well, those of the team permitted by the police to travel will have the opportunity to pass through the three thermal scanners to be located at the entrances to the stadium – which might possibly cause a bit of a delay to those trying to get in (so arrive early, perhaps set off now). Those who are believed to be feverish ‘will be recommended not to enter’ to watch the match – and it may be possible for them to get a refund for the ticket. It is not clear what ‘recommended’ will mean – a quiet word in the ear (from a safe distance) or being forcibly prevented from entering? There does not seem much point in having scanners if people are going to be allowed in anyway but some people are, I can imagine, likely to be disappointed with the results. Let us hope no one has the dreaded fever but on a statistical basis, if nothing else, it seems pretty likely that some people will.

I doubt the game itself will be much good – these overseas promotions rarely are as the Liverpool players will only have been in training for a short while and probably not accustomed to playing in our monsoon climate (hope it does not rain). Usually, these things only perk up if one of the local players goes through with one of those wild both feet in the air tackles that players can still get away with in some Asian football competitions and then the highly paid foreigners take umbrage and there can be stern words exchanged and looks askance. Since Peter Reid is the manager of Thailand and previously a renowned tackler in the Everton midfield (among other things), many things are possible.

Tight at the Top


It is still quite tight at the top of the Thai Premier League with four teams divided by just three points – leading the way are Bangkok Glass, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Thai-Port FC. Second are the Chonburi Sharkheads, who beat the Nakhon Pathom Paddyfields 3-0. Glass are unbeaten after 11 games and have 25 points, with the Sharkoes on 23 points, followed by the Osotspa Barely Legal Stimulants with 23 also and then the Muang Thong Exhibition Centres fourth on 22 points.

At the bottom, the Chulalongkorn Hippocratic Oath Breakers have just 6 points, the same as the Sri Racha Devotees and, above them with 9 points, the Nay-Rayong Blue Shirts.

Keeping up the tradition of football managers, players and supporters around the world, the referees are coming up for a good level of abuse: “Han Hamser of Bangkok Glass FC ” To be honest, I’ve never seen such a terrible referee since Thai league starts. It messed up our game.”

Meanwhile, the Samut Songkhran Rice-Based Distilled Beverges have had to contend with the plague: “Somchai Chuaybunchom of Samut Songkram ” It was one of the good game we have eventhough the players were not 100%. There were some of our main players has got Chicken pox. Also Kanueng had got the exam so he came later. We couldn’t do much at first. We had a chance from penalty too but we couldn’t do it. I hope next match will be better as we will have all players back.”

The big match in the forthcoming round of games will be the Sharkoes at home to the Exhibition Centres. Meanwhile, in Division 2, Chiang Rai have seven wins out of seven and play Petchabun, who have six wins out of seven. Division One is being dominated by Police United, which name stands for itself. The other promotion spots are currently held by the Army Neutrals and the Thai Honda Reliables.

Transparents Lead the Way


After the latest round of Premier League games, the Bangkok Glass Transparents continue to lead the way, with 24 points from 10 games, followed by the Chonburi Land Sharks, Osotspa Dried Squids, Muang Thong Exhibitionists and Thai Port, who are fifth with 14 points. The Transparents maintained their position at the top with a 1-0 win over the Navy Blue Shirts. Last, still, are the Chula Hippocratic Oath Breakers, whose game away at the Exhibitionists was postponed. The Samut Sakhon-Land Sharks game was also postponed, presumably because of the extensive rainstorms over the weekend.

My team, Bangkok United, scored a valiant 1-0 win away at the Dried Squids (there are more video highlights available at the cheerballthai channel on Youtube, for those interested).

Meanwhile, in the First Division, the Thai Police Fee Collectors continue to lead the way, followed by the Thai Honda Reliables and the Suphanburi Monkey Banqueters (is that Suphanburi where they have the monkey banquet?). The Police appear to have scored a 7-0 (seven, in teleprinter speak) away at Surat Thani, which must be the result of the week if it is not a misprint.

Division Two is divided into five regional leagues, one in the North, one in the Northeast, one in South, one in the Central East and the fifth in Bangkok. Current leaders of these leagues are, respectively, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Rachasima, Satun, Singburi and Rachapracha. Is there a fully active pyramid structure in place? Not sure. Apparently, three will be relegated from the Premier League at the end of the year to be replaced by the top three in Division One, while the bottom five from Division One will be replaced by the top placed team in each of the five regional leagues. I say ‘apparently’ because this is the first season and, this being Thailand, the rules attached to any competition should probably best be thought of as a movable feast. Money and influence, in other words, might intervene to prevent certain teams from being relegated. We shall see how it transpires.

Thai Football: Transparency Top, Hippocratic Oath Breakers Bottom


I did promise to keep on top of the new Thai Premier League and have failed to do so – so let me try to make amends now. First, tonight (actually it is probably already over) Chonburi the Shark Botherers will play mighty Hanoi ACB as part of the AFC Cup (Thai teams used to be in the equivalent of the Asian Big Cup but were demoted for administrative incompetence – in Thailand, heavens!) and now participate in Asia Vase. The SBs are well ahead of the game and a win tonight will see them safely on to the next stage (a defeat would probably do, actually) since both Mighty H, Lovecraftian Kedah and Eastern Star of Hong Kong are joined on three points against our heroes’ nine.

Meanwhile, back in the league, well I missed the results again but highlights from the table show the slightly brittle Bangkok Glass top with 16 points from six games, followed by Osotspa and the aforementioned Sharkheads. The Nay Rayong Blue Shirts are down in eleventh place with seven points and, pleasingly, the Chula Utd Hippocratic Oath Breakers are bottom with the league with just one point. However, a league spokesperson is going to ‘clarify’ recent results which show, in fact, that Chula are top because they go into every game with a pure mind.

My own team, such as it is, Bangkok Utd is middle of the table with a rather tedious one win, four draws and one defeat record. Play up the Bangkok Utd Righteous Fury!

Incidentally, the government has clarified that there is no truth in the ‘lie’ spread by foreign journalists that Thai referees will award penalties based on shirt colour and anyone who repeats it will be facing an [name of charge deleted as it is illegal even to acknowledge it exists] charge of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to 10,000 baht or 10 billion baht for ‘demons in human shape.’

The Dried Squids and Spiderman to the Rescue!


Three teams share top spot in the Thai Premier League with seven points each after three games. They include the Chonburi Sharks, who drew 0-0 with Pattaya United over the weekend and the Muang Thong-Nong Jok Utd ‘Dried Squids,’ who also drew 0-0 with TOT PLC. Bangkok Glass ‘the Glass,’ who beat someone but it is not entirely obvious who. In Ayutthaya, the Provincial Electricity Authority (who have made a good start in the AFC), beat our very own Bangkok United 2-0. A good solid defeat like that makes me warm to the lads.

Of course, writing about football is a deliberate attempt to avoid the controversy and trouble that might arise from writing about political issues. I might add another 150 words about Sir Steve Coppell’s 1,000 games as a manager, just to reinforce the point. However, the depressing thought that the season is likely to fizzle out in anti-climax is rather deflating.

On which note, therefore: a Bangkok fire fighter dressed in a Spiderman outfit to talk an 11-year old boy off the ledge of a fourth floor window – there is a nice photo, inevitably, although it is not clear exactly how much danger the boy faced. It was, apparently, his first day at school and he suffers from autism and, according to the text, suddenly list his confidence and started crying and, from there on in, only Spiderman could save the day (knowing Thailand, he is lucky the fire fighter did not turn up in a Watchman outfit). It reminds me a little of funerals here – chanting and praying services can run to seven days and people rarely have that many different black clothes. Often, therefore, fairly inappropriate tee-shirts are used: I remember one small buy dressed in a black t-shirt with the legend ‘I am Jesus.’

OK, amusing t-shirt slogans – that will keep me out of trouble tomorrow.

The Muang Thong-Nong Jok United ‘Dried Squids’ Go Top


The second weekend of the new Thai Premier League season has passed by and there are some good highlights at thaikickoff.com, apparently provided by Siamsport (click here). Several games have four or five minute packages of video with highlights and then some interviews and the like. For readers who have not seen Thai football and have no idea what the standard is like, this represents a splendid place to begin.

What is the standard like? Well, it’s not that bad, considering that players have to contend with not terribly smooth pitches, lack of fitness and the occasional rush of blood to the head from fellow players and officials. Some players could make it in Europe, for example, if they had proper support and resources – but they are unlikely to get the chance since local players are as good and, presumably, better adapted to their environments.

Well, what did happen on the pitch? Muang Thong-Nong Jok United (let’s hope they have a nickname I can find out soon) have leapt like salmon to the top of the league after beating Navy Rayong (or, if you prefer, Rajnavee Rayong) 2-1. (Navee is navy, of course, while raj is royal).

The MTNJU boys take over from Chonburi, who also got a win. TOT FC got a one goal victory at Samut Songkhram, while Thai Port won 3-0 at Sri Racha and Nakhon Pathom stuffed Pattaya United 3-1. Other winners included Bangkok United, Bangkok Glass and PEA (that’s the Provincial Electrical Authority rather than the small, green, spherical vegetable).

I’m going to try to develop some enthusiasm for Bangkok United, since that would be my local team and they play at the Thai-Japanese Friendship Stadium at Dindaeng, where Mrs News in Bangkok has her office. They play in green shirts and white shorts. Let’s see how it goes.

Thai Premier League Kicks Off


The new Thai Premier League kicked off over the weekend, to not a great deal of fanfare – there are some sites for Thai football (especially http://www.thaifootballleague.com/) but not for people who cannot read Thai. Most attention was on the teams with new names and the extent to which clubs would be able to develop local support (about which I can find very little). The results of the first round were:

Muang Thong-Nong Jok United 3-0 Thai Port FC

Navy Rayong 0-3 Samut Sakhon

Bangkok United 0-0 Nakhon Pathom

Pattaya United 1-1 Sri Racha

Bangkok Glass 1-1 TOT

Chula United 0-3 Samut Songkhram

Osotspa M-150 1-0 Provincial Electric Authority

Chonburi 1-0 BEC Tero Sasana

Let’s hope this version of the league is a success – the national team struggles because of lack of fitness and lack of competitive domestic matches, which means leading players go overseas to Singapore and Vietnam (a few make it to Europe as well, of course) in order to play at a higher standard/get paid more.

It would be helpful if the media showed some support for the league and a little less emphasis on English or other European leagues.

Thai Premier League


The Thai Premier League is due to kick off on March 7th and football fans throughout the country will hope that it is better organized and has higher standards than previous attempts. The latest reorganization was sparked by demotion of Thai teams from automatic qualification into the Asian Champions League. Consequently, many clubs have been revamped as limited companies and some have decamped from Bangkok with a view to stimulating some local support (until now, attendances have been mostly derisory). So, we will have Pattaya United instead of Coke-Bang Phra, Bangkok United FC instead of Bangkok University and TMM-Samut Sakhon instead of Tobacco Monopoly.

Efforts will be made to ensure that the sixteen teams in the Premier League are coached by individuals with proper qualifications, while a second division will also have coaching requirements (not clear if there will be promotion and relegation involving the two leagues). A women’s competition will also be held.

It is unfortunate that the games will not be broadcast widely on television, since that would be the best way to promote interest in the competition. Instead, games will be shown on the satellite station NBT19, about which I know very little or, indeed, nothing.

A properly managed league would be invaluable in raising quality and fitness at the national level. Presumably Peter Reid would concur but he is not mentioned.

I will try to remember to post updates.

Retired Official to Play in Goal against Iran?


Thailand’s football manager Peter Reid is apparently and rather controversially thinking of calling up a certain well-known retired official to play in goal in the big match against Iran. According to Khun Peter, with the official’s massive invisible hands in the way, the Iranian forwards will have no chance of getting the ball into the net.

Ashes of Defeat Snatched from Jaws of Extra Time


Thailand snatched the ashes of defeat from the jaws of extra time last night when Vietnam claimed the AFF Suzuki Cup with the last kick (a header, in fact) of the match. Thailand had been leading for most of the game after an early Teerasil header made it 2-2 on aggregate and, for the majority of the game, Thailand looked the superior side without ever really looking like going on to get the second and probably decisive goal. However, as the final seconds ebbed away, Vietnam were awarded a fairly soft free-kick a few yards from the Thai penalty area and the ball was swung in to the box, when slack marking allowed Le Cong Vinh headed the ball on and into the net in a fashion that would have made Kevin Doyle proud (praise can come no higher, of course).

The goalscorer, who had already been booked (we had a few incidents of typical SE Asian football with wild challenges, physical confrontation and random refereeing decisions) immediately took off his shirt and began cavorting with the crowd and teammates and anyone else nearby – in Britain, that would have been two more yellow cards and even Graham Poll would have had to send him off. However, the ref blew for full-time without restarting the game, which presumably prevented him from having to act.

Some of the more entertaining sights included armed Vietnamese police tangling with people trying to get on to the pitch to congratulate the scorer (did they include squad players?) and several rows of VIP seated officials, who had looked glum throughout the game and presumably were CP members, suddenly all looking happy and shaking hands with seniors in deferential manner. The crowd, inevitably, went absolutely crazy. I can imagine how our Vietnamese students would have responded.

The Scorpion Queen’s Heartfelt Ambition


The Scorpion Queen, Kanchana Ketkaew, has broken another world record by keeping a live scorpion in her mouth for two minutes and three seconds (and not being killed by it). Khun Kanchana is also apparently ready to attempt to break her own record of staying in a room with thousands of live scorpions (and not being killed by them). A medical team is standing by, apparently, should things go wrong.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not, at, Pattaya, are happy to support the attempt because “…we feel that it’s being done not merely as a stunt or entertainment, but to satisfy a deeply felt ambition.” Khun Kanchana is married to Thailand’s Centipede King, Bunthawee Siengwong, although it is not reported here why or how he has earned this sobriquet.

Anything more serious going on? Well, the three lawyers thrown into jail for the so-called pastry box bribe have been released, several months later after police dropped charges. Readers may recall that a pastry box apparently full of money was allegedly left for a court official – photos were taken but the evidence then suddenly disappeared. The judge decided that all three people on the legal team should be put in prison because they had been seen talking to each other. It was this decision which first alerted people to the different role the courts would then take in the silent coup against democracy. At least the people involved are out for New Year.

Manager Peter Reid has talked about the importance of maintaining discipline on the field (‘park’) for the forthcoming two-legged final against Vietnam. The first leg will be at the Rajamangala tomorrow – reminding me that it probably isn’t such a good idea to have scheduled to have collected the turkey and ham from Foodland in the evening, given the likely traffic …. well, it cannot be helped.

 

AFF Suzuki Cup Semi-Final Line Up Confirmed


The semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup have been finalized, after last night’s Group B matches, in which Thailand brushed aside Malaysia 3-0 and Vietnam overcame a goalless first half to beat Laos 4-0.

Thailand, the favourites, will now play Indonesia and Vietnam will play Singapore. This has all been rather predictable, once it turned out the Burmese team were not able to replicate the form they showed last term and Malaysia demonstrated that, despite all their bluster, they remain fundamentally NBG.

It is disappointing that the semi-finals and indeed final (I think the final too) involve two-legged affairs, since this dispels much of the momentum of the tournament and means most of the games are even more defensive than usual. Thailand will keep it tight in Indonesia and so will Singapore in Vietnam. It’s nice for home fans to get their chance to see their teams in action but that does not compensate for the slackening of the tension, in my opinion.

The commentator on the Lao-Vietnam game last night, a guy named Sashi or similar (I could look it up, I suppose) who once score the winning goal for Singapore in a final against Thailand and who appears to play a Trevor Brooking role on the network, observed that some technical aspects had improved in the last two years – for example, forwards better able to hold the ball up when their back was to the goal, but I found it difficult to see much progress. Perhaps Thai efficiency and pressing under Peter Reid is the most noticeable feature. Let us hope the Thai FA treat him better than they did Peter Withe.

(P)Lucky Thais Defeat Mighty Communist Machine


It was a close-run thing, apparently but Thailand sneaked an injury time goal for a 1-0 win over 10-man North Korea yesterday. I did not see it myself – alas I get to watch almost nothing despite … OK, too much personal information.

It was in no way simian cephalodian Peter Reid’s first match as manager and he struck a sensible tone: we were lucky, in essence and a lot of things are going to have to change via severe shouting at on the practice pitch. Khun Peter is famous in his native UK for his industrial strength language and a fairly robust playing style with a big lad up top (which is not going to work here, of course). He is most famous, perhaps (Everton fans will differ) in his playing days for forming a new midfield with Steve Hodge in the 1986 World Cup after Bryan Robson was declared dead and Ray ‘Butch’ Wilkins sent off in the morocco fiasco. He it was who covered every inch of the baking ground to enable Gary Lineker to score a hat trick against the sledded Poles and two more against the epithet-free Paraguayans before being cheated out by the Maradona experience – he is now due to become manager/coach of Argentina – let’s be honest, it’s not going to work.

Anyway, earlier today, there were repots that an agreement had been struck with the English FA which meant the England team would come and play a friendly here at some stage. This has subsequently been denied and who knows what the truth is (although I can guess). It would certainly be a big story if the Engerlunders were to come here, including Stevie Me, JT, Wazza and all (dread to think what Wayne Rooney would make of Khun Chuwit’s previous establishments on the Phahonyothin road opposite the hotel where the Liverpool team stayed when they visited). Even if they did, it would probably end up a typical England on tour performance of dire fatigue and indifference. We shall, as ever, see. If we are spared from the looming street violence, that is.

Peter Reid’s 36


Recently appointed manager Peter Reid has named a 36 person (OK man) squad for forthcoming friendly games, prior to the various tournaments that take place towards the end of the year. There are seven players each from the top two teams in the recently concluded Premier League, that is of course the Provincial Electricity Authority (Go PEA, as they no doubt shout) and Chonburi (I am reminded of when the Bangkok Post used to report on the expat league, the WAG-element of one team was described as ‘shrill, slim-hipped pole-huggers’).

There are also a few players from overseas, two playing in Vietnam (Datsakorn Thonglao and Nirut Surasiang at Hong Anh Gia Lai) and another in Singapore (Sutee Suksomsit at Tampines). Two of the three youngsters still contracted at Manchester City are also included – the third is injured. There are also welcome introductions to some other younger players, with representatives coming from Coke-Bangpra, Khon Kaen, Chula United and Muang Thong-Nok Jong United. This willingness to look beyond the top teams and the established players reflects well on Khun Peter. I have written before that he has stressed the need to improve stamina to complement the existing technique and I note he has established a training camp away from Bangkok were players might be ‘distracted.’ Let us see whether he can bring about some improvements in performance at the AT&T Cup and the AFF Suzuki Cup. No matter how well he does, qualification for the World Cup, which is the long-term goal, still seems a long way away.

I’m still not sure which team would be my local team. The league system has improved to some extent but still has a long way to go – I would consider going to watch games if it were more convenient (and possibly air-conditioned) – why for example does the league season end now, coinciding with the end of the rainy season and not extend over what is controversially called winter?

Peter Reid’s 36


Recently appointed manager Peter Reid has named a 36 person (OK man) squad for forthcoming friendly games, prior to the various tournaments that take place towards the end of the year. There are seven players each from the top two teams in the recently concluded Premier League, that is of course the Provincial Electricity Authority (Go PEA, as they no doubt shout) and Chonburi (I am reminded of when the Bangkok Post used to report on the expat league, the WAG-element of one team was described as ‘shrill, slim-hipped pole-huggers’).

There are also a few players from overseas, two playing in Vietnam (Datsakorn Thonglao and Nirut Surasiang at Hong Anh Gia Lai) and another in Singapore (Sutee Suksomsit at Tampines). Two of the three youngsters still contracted at Manchester City are also included – the third is injured. There are also welcome introductions to some other younger players, with representatives coming from Coke-Bangpra, Khon Kaen, Chula United and Muang Thong-Nok Jong United. This willingness to look beyond the top teams and the established players reflects well on Khun Peter. I have written before that he has stressed the need to improve stamina to complement the existing technique and I note he has established a training camp away from Bangkok were players might be ‘distracted.’ Let us see whether he can bring about some improvements in performance at the AT&T Cup and the AFF Suzuki Cup. No matter how well he does, qualification for the World Cup, which is the long-term goal, still seems a long way away.

I’m still not sure which team would be my local team. The league system has improved to some extent but still has a long way to go – I would consider going to watch games if it were more convenient (and possibly air-conditioned) – why for example does the league season end now, coinciding with the end of the rainy season and not extend over what is controversially called winter?