2017 Season Update
Its certainly been an eventful six months for me. The year for me started as Director of Football for Sukhothai FC helping them with the clubs first adventure in the AFC Champions League. I arrived back in the land of smiles for the opening Thailand Champions Cup Vs SCG Maungthong United FC at the Supachalasai Stadium which ended in a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the winners of the 2016 Thai League Champions.
Watching Maungthong in devastating form I could see that they was looking good to retain the Thai League and I was sure they could also be a threat in the AFC Champions League also. It wasn’t the ideal preparation leading into our first AFC Champions League game against Burmese Champions Yadanarbon FC but at least we was playing at home.
Playing Yadanarbon this gave me the chance to meet up with head coach René Desaeyere the experienced Belgium manager who had coached for a number of years in Thailand. The game went very well for us and although we won a comfortable 5-0 I found Yadanarbon FC had some good Individual players. We had pressed them high up the field and forced them into making mistakes. Our quality certainly showed in front of goal.
This set us up nicely for the next round against the Chinese side Shanghai SIPG managed by André Villas-Boas, we had a chat before the game and I was surprised how much homework he had done on or team. With the likes of Brazilian Internationals Hulk, Oscar and Elkeson they would be a handful for any top European sides competing in the UEFA Champions league.Our preparation wasn’t ideal as we had exactly 1 week to the game it was the Chinese New Year the Chinese Embassy was closed for a few days in Bangkok prior to us leaving making it difficult for many players and staff getting Visa’s sorted. Many of us was booked on different flights and arriving at all different times into Shanghai. The other major issue for the Thai players was the climate we was going from a hot 35c to the winter in China around 5/10c.
As we did our training session on the pitch the Thai players was wearing coats gloves hats and tracksuit bottoms. I advised the coaching staff to keep the session moving with little time standing around. As the session went on many of the players ended up wearing there usual shirts and shorts. We played very well and caused a few problems for Shanghai SIPG and created a few goalscoring chances and was a little unlucky to be loosing 1-0 at half time. But the threat of the 3 attacking Brazilians was a bit too much for our boys to cope with and we ended up losing 3-0.
So the season got underway in Thailand and I had been approached by a couple of clubs about taking over as head coach and I felt I was missing out on the day to day coaching which I have a passion for.
Superpower FC had approached me after parting ways with the Head Coach and they asked for my help as the club was not in a good situation. The owners was looking to sell the club but was desperate to stay in the Thai League T1. We discussed the squad and I was shocked how many
players was over the age of 30yrs and a majority of them over 35yrs! But the most shocking was that the club had only signed 1 out and out striker who was injured so this gave me no real goalscorer to play down the middle. I had ongoing discussions with the owners about changing this situation when the transfer window opened up for the 2nd leg. I lost the first choice goalkeeper after my second training session with a long term injury that would keep him out for the rest of the season so we was really up against it.
I worked daily on team shape and getting the organised more defensively with the option of hitting teams on the break and giving us more attacking options. But unfortunately what we was practicing during training we was not able to replicate in the game. It simply came down to players not being good enough for this level and it is always difficult for a coach who is working essentially with players chosen by a previous coach. Although I was seeing improvements I was looking forward to the transfer window to bring in some more quality players.
But the club had other ideas and terminated our strikers contract who was about to return from injury and wanted to sell our best player which told me all I needed to know about the ambition of the club. We decided to go our separate ways and I wished the players and staff all the best for the remainder of the season. Many players was upset that I was leaving but I explained that this is football and that they needed to be professional and to keep fighting for themselves there team mates and the supporters.
So I have been watching games and reevaluating myself as a coach. I try to use this down time to see were I can make improvements in my coaching and management to take into my next role. It can be extremely frustrating being on the sidelines and although I had a few offers to coach again
sometimes it can be dangerous to jump back into the wrong job. I will continue to go out and watch games and work on my methodology I’m also looking into some personal development and have had a number of meeting with a Mentor looking into Transcendental Meditation which has been used by a number of coaches and teams with some positives results.
Looking forward to the next challenge lets hope it keeps me in the land of smiles!