Q - Hi Steve, it's been a while since we spoke, what have you been up to recently?
A - I’ve just opened a hotel in Sapa North Vietnam. Basically an investment for my daughter and that’s been a lot of hard work. Also I've been doing a lot of TV punditry for ESPN and Astro Malaysia.
Q – What was the reason for your recent visit to Chonburi?
A - I work as a Coaching Consultant in Asia for Everton FC and recently spent almost a year in China with them. We were in Thailand as part of the Chang-Everton C Licence course. Basically, coaching coaches.
Q – Who organised the course?
A - The Course was organised by the AFC. Chang and Chonburi FA hosted and delivered it.
Q – What aspects of coaching did the course cover?
A - It was a pretty intensive course of 86 hours and covered all aspects of football, but the core was about organising and teaching techniques of the game to young players.
Q – Who were the main facilitators on the course?
A - Chonburi FA, via Coach Dang.
Q – Where did the course take place?
A - At a few venues in Chonburi, all of which were excellent, particularly the new Stadium. If you have good facilities, you will have good players.
Q – What was your schedule like?
A - We started at 8:00am and got back to the hotel at 8:00pm every day. Long hot days but very enjoyable.
Q – Did you think this schedule was beneficial to learning?
A - It was hard work, but welcome to coaching. That’s what the reality of coaching is like. The visible times such as training and match days are only the tip of the coaching iceberg. It’s a bit like teaching, in that respect.
Q – Which aspects of the course did you feel worked well?
A - I thought the organisation was superb and the enthusiasm of the young coaches was excellent. They were never late and they worked very hard. There was a thirst for knowledge. The EFC Coach Robbie Anderson showed practices for very young players, which is a very difficult areas and Ray Hall moved on to elite youth players (such as Rooney and Rodwell who he discovered and coached) and I took practices we used with the Thai national team.
Q – How important are courses like these for coaches, local FAs and local football as a whole?
A - Essential. If you reject coach educationit’s like rejecting education itself. We all never stop learning and the game is a dynamic process, changing and evolving through the years. The principles of the courses such as organisation are essential to impart technical knowledge. The C Licence emphasizes technique which if you don’t have, you will never play for Thailand. (Though you may get a game for Oldham!) It’s like saying you will never enjoy Shakespeare unless you can read. The work of the beginner coach is essential and under valued.
Q – What was your involvement with local children?
A - We worked with an Academy group of 20, 14 year olds, who again were well organised, punctual and enthusiastic. Thus once again disproving some of the myths about Thai Footballers.There were some very talented young players there.
Q – Did any of the local youngsters impress you?
A - In any group there will be a wide disparity of talent but 3 players stood out for me. Nat,a creative midfield player with great vision.I did a practice that I used with the national team and he adapted very well to it, compared to the others. There was also a strong two footed centre back and a goalkeeper with excellent technique, and a good size. Maybe the next Sinthaweechai!
Q – Did you have any involvement with the Chonburi FC squad?
A - No, they were in pre season and some on national team duty. But Coach Wittaya came along to visit the course. He is an excellent coach and had just returned from a UEFA course. The club is in good hands with him.
Q – Which members of the current Chonburi squad do you think could have a career in coaching?
A - Obviously the older ones who have matured will be the most likely candidates. Sinthaweechai is a great role model and could do this. I think Pipob and Chonlatit would have the capacity to lead and coach and although still young I was always impressed with Suttinun’s maturity and ability to understand the game. Another great role model as well. Coaching doesn’t suit every player and for those that it does, some would suit kids and some the senior path. And Therdsak of course, but he’s got another 10 years playing to go!
Q – What were your overall impressions of the Chonburi FA?
A - Top class. It’s a well run football machine. Mainly by having a number of full time people who understand the game. From the president at the top, who greeted us, right down to the youngest coaches, you can see they love what they are doing
Q – How were you treated by the Chonburi FA?
A - Superbly. We were treated very well in all areas off and on the pitch
Q – Would you like to come back to work with the Chonburi FA on similar courses?
A - I would be happy to work in any part of Thailand on such courses. Ray Hall who is the Everton boss in this area is hoping Chang and Everton develop this concept all over Thailand.
Q – What are your plans for the future?
A - I was about to sign for a V league team but the president was put in jail and the club folded! So football is never a simple pathway. I’ve been doing TV and writing a great deal, but basically waiting till the right coaching offer comes along. I am lucky I don’t have to coach and can choose to an extent from any offers. I've just opened the hotel www.hmongsapahotel.com so maybe a future as Vietnam’s answer to Basil Fawltyawaits, till the next job comes along.
Q - Thanks, Steve.
A - You're welcome. As always.
You can see a few photos HERE
Current Thailand assistant coach Steve Darby had a successful spell at Home United in Singapore during the mid-noughties. Here he reminisces about a trip to Thailand in 2004 and a match against "Chonburi".
"CHONBURI" v HOME UNITED 2004
by Steve Darby
Home Utd of Singapore used to tour Thailand every year as preparation for our S League season. It must have worked as we won the league and cup twice in three years (2003-5) and got to the knockout stages of the Champions league and the AFC Cup semi finals. All done with a squad of 16 players due to S League salary cap rules.
The Thai pre season always guaranteed us tough friendlies and a chance for talent spotting. We normally played the established clubs like BEC, Thai Port etc but one year we were offered "Chonburi "as we were told, an up and comng provincial team. As it involved an overnight stay in Pattaya it didnt take long to convince the Singaporean and Brazilian players!
It took us hours to get to the venue (the Coke Stadium in Bang Phra - ed), as we got lost in what seemed like a new housing estate.Then suddenly we entered a side road and saw a few wooden stands on the side of what was an excellent pitch. There was a crowd waiting and a large number of kids in scout uniforms.
The team we played "Chonburi" had the hugest Africans I had ever seen playing, fortunately they were not that good! We also used the game to trial a foreigner who confirmed my belief that CVs of players are useless and you have to see them play.He said he had played for national youth teams in Yugoslavia...a flexible truth I think, as he was hopeless!
However, we had asked if a Thai player could play for Chonburi as a trial for us...after about 5 minutes, 3 crunching tackles and 2 great passes, I signed Anurak Sitterand and what a great player he was! I can't remember the score, as I take very little notice of scores in friendlies. I just look at individual players. But I remember we were taken to a private house by I believe a politician after the game ,and were treated superbly, excellent hosts and great hospitality.
Another time we played a Thai selection for J Surachai's testimonial.That was a bit special! Zico, Tawan, Dusit, Choko, Boy, Issawa all featured and we were happy just to get out of our own half! What magnificent players and it's a pleasure to see some of these great players coaching now. I signed 3 Thai players at Home Utd, Sutee,Surachai and Anurak, all were top class professional off and on the pitch.
The S League then had players like Niweat,Tawan Santi, Choko. I also tried to sign a current Chonburi player Therdsak, but that never materialised and became like a Thai Soap Opera! But he did a magnifcent job for our opposition, Singapore Armed Forces!
So in the space of a 6 years, the province of Chonburi has developed so much, with 3 TPL teams, a Vision Asia project and many great footballers coming out of the development programs.Plus of course great crowds!
As always, many thanks to Steve for taking the time to share his thoughts and memories with us.
Thailand assistant coach, Steve Darby, shares his thoughts on Sunday's big match.
Q - How many times have you managed to watch Chonburi and Muang Thong United this season?
A- I've watched a total of 45 games so far this season. That includes TPL, Queens Cup, AFC Cup, FA Cup and even a few Vietnam league games, when Thai players were playing. I take notes at all these games and later computerise the records so, if the same names keep coming up, it will be followed up. I also listen to the club coaches and senior players about who they feel are playing well.
This is how Puritat Jarigarnon of Chonburi was first identified. I was alerted by Therdsak and Sutee Suksomkit recommended Anawin Jujeen at Bangkok Glass. I try to get to as many games as possible, usually 3 a week and have been to every stadium this season. In addition, I make the effort to watch every game highlight on the internet so I get to see every goal scored. This information is all passed on to Bryan Robson, who double checks and makes final decisions about players
Q - What do you consider Chonburi's strengths to be?
A- I have to say a great back four and keeper. Plus, Therdsak on his day is still brilliant and Arthit can always punish a team from set pieces.
Q - And Chonburi's weaknesses?
A- I would never critisise another coach's team, Coaches have enough critics without fellow professionals joining in.
Q - Which Chonburi player(s) has/have impressed you the most?
A - Peter Reid was convinced that Suree and Natthapong could easily play at Championship level in England. And, having worked at Sheffield Wednesday (League One), I have no doubt about that. I also believe that Suttinun has a great future, as he is such a dedicated player and a great athlete. Also, I wouldn't have wanted to play against Chonlatit!
Q - What do you consider Muang Thong's strengths to be?
A - Top class keeper, strong centre backs and a striker in Teerasil Dangda who can score goals from anywhere.
Q - And their weaknesses?
A - As before.
Q - Which Muang Thong player(s) has/have impressed you the most?
A - The goalkeeper,Kawin Thammasatchanan, has the physical ability and mental strength to go all the way to the top. I know EPL clubs are tracking him. Teerasil Dangda is a tremendous player. When New Zealand played here, Ryan Nelsen said he caused him more problems than many EPL players. Don't underestimate the work rate of Pitchipong Coeichui and I think Panupong Wongsa at Centre back is getting better week by week. I am also pleased to see Ronnachai Rangsiyo back from his ACL injury, he has great talent.
Q - Do you think that this year's TPL title is a two horse race? Is this a title decider?
A - If Muang Thong win, then I think it's the title decider. I cant see PEA catching up, as they are strong defensively but don't score many goals. Although signing Pipat is a great move for them. But when you see Army and Police beating the big two, I still think it will go down to the last few games. Injuries to key players will play a part.
Q - What has been the biggest club match you've ever been involved in?
A - The biggest club match was Perak v Kedah. 100,000 at Bukit Jalil stadium for the Malaysia Cup final. What an atmosphere! Also Johor v Sabah in the Malaysian FA Cup final. We were a 2nd division team beating Sabah in front of 30,000 home fans.
Though in terms of prestige, Home Utd v Al Jaish of Syria in the semi final of the AFC Cup. We had a squad of 16 players (including two great Thais, Sutee and Surachai) and were beaten by a virtual national team.
Q - How does a Chonburi v Muang Thong game compare to these experiences?
A - Football is football, you must live in the present. This will be a great game. The match in the pouring rain last season, 5-2 to Muang Thong at Nong Prue, was one of the most exciting games I have seen. Though I know you wont agree!!
Q - Dare I ask for a score prediction?
A - I have to say a draw!
Q - Anything else you'd like to add?
A - Don't underestimate the quality of the Thai players. They are some of the most technically gifted and professional players I have worked with, and that includes those from England. Players like Surat and Datsakorn were great ambassadors when they played overseas. Ask yourself how many of the foreign players currently playing here would get in the national team? That's a sign that great players are being produced in Thailand.
Many thanks to Steve who, as always, was more than happy to spare the time to answer my questions.
I was saddened to read that Steve Darby has been relieved of his duties as Thailand assistant coach. The decision, which came as no real surprise to anyone who has been following the story, was made at a meeting of the FAT board yesterday. To me it seems a rather short sighted and poor move by the Thai FA. Darby has a proven track record in ths part of the world and to make him the scapegoat for the current national team's recent lack of success is harsh in the extreme. Especially as he has only been in the job a little over 12 months.
FAT head, Worawi Makudi, gave the reasons for his dismissal as the U23 team's perceived failure at the SEA Games and the fact that Steve doesn't have a good relationship with the local press. Steve has always been a good friend of this site and I'd like to wish him well for the future, whether it be in his new role with the Thai FA, or elsewhere. Good luck, Steve.
SEA GAMES UPDATE
by Steve Darby
Rather than just give the normal standard answers to the same questions asked on a daily basis. I thought I would show some of the unseen aspects of the SEA Games camp.
Firstly the players have been very professional off the pitch. The living conditions are basic, 4 to a room, no TV, kettle, AC or fridge and no hot water. However, I have not heard one complaint from a player or member of staff. They have accepted that is what the reality is and have adapted in a professional manner. The staff have the same conditions. The reality is that the athletes are the true VIPs.
Also in their off field manner the players have been excellent in their physical preparation. The injured players have done exactly what the Physios have ordered. The reality is that players will get "impact" injuries and the treatment is essential as the match schedule is tight. The staff of physiotherapists have been excellent, working very long hours.
Sadly our major injury has been Teerasil (Mui) who got an injury in a football-irrelevant fitness test conducted by SAT four days before we travelled. This injury was highlighted in the media and of course the Vietnamese ensured he was given a warm welcome on his ankle. He has played only 30 minutes so far. But for every injury there is a chance for another player to become a hero and the other strikers have responded in a superb manner scoring goals!
Also we must not forget players who are injured and who would have been here such as Ronnachai (Sam) and Bek of Muangthong
We have tried to establish self discipline in the squad, with rules being established by the players so they have ownership. This includes what they wear to meals, bed times, use of hand phones etc. Rather than treat men of 22 like children they have been treated like professional players and the response has been excellent. I took a phone call at 10.30pm one night and every player was in their room with no sounds emanating.
Also Zico (who will be an excellent national coach in the future) often has an early morning session for training at 7am. No player has missed when requested to be there. It is a myth about "Thai Time" these players are punctual.
I've also managed to watch a number of other sports training and we can certainly pick up ideas from Sepak Takrow (flexibility) and Boxing (upper body strength). Though the Thai football team always has many people coming to watch them train as well. We have also tried to establish a psychological concept called a "Team Bubble" where all players and staff are together in everything we do. Hence you often see our kit man Sonnai involved in warm ups. If every player worked as hard as our kit man and masseur they would be world beaters!
It was great to see Kawin (Tong) given the magnificent honour of being the flag bearer for Thailand, his coach Nippol was exceptionally proud of him. Tong is a young man with ambition and the correct ethic and attitude. I know he will go a long way in the game. Nippol sets the highest standards and Tong and Ukrit are meeting them.
At the moment we are top of our group and were devastated by the 90th minute penalty that meant we drew v Vietnam. We have to beat Malaysia. No coach can guarantee results but I can guarantee preparation from the staff and maximum effort and enthusiasm and desire to win from the players. I hope the whole of Issan comes across the border and makes it a home game for us.
There are thousands of Vietnamese here, the Thai fans who are here are tremendous and very supportive. The players appreciate the support and always sign autographs and have photos taken. Lets fill the stadium on the 11th with Thais!
Remember some of these players will be in the 2014 World cup Qualification squad, but the reality the bulk of these players will be the World Cup 2018 Squad. As players peak about 28 these players will be that age in 2016 when the qualifications begin. We must start planning and thinking this far ahead, the Italians, Argentineans and Germans do. We must instill best practice and quality preparation habits into these players. On behalf of the players and Staff a big thank you for all your support so far.
IF WE DON'T TRY TO PLAN AND DON'T START TO PLAN, WE WILL FAIL.
All the elite footballing nations that regularly appear in the World Cup Final have long term development plans in action. To be successful (qualify) for the World Cup finals in 2014, 2018 and 2022 Thailand must start to put into place programs that include talent identification, quality coaching, high level competition, education programs that target nutrition, life style and psychological programs
My research taken from official FIFA technical studies has shown that World Cup Teams are usually made up of mature players between the ages of 25 and 30; there will always be exceptions such as Owen, Messi, and Rooney (or Teerasil). Or at the other age spectrum of Baresi or Zoff, quite often Goalkeepers are the exception. However logic points to programs that are targeted to improve the elite players who are in the 25-30 age brackets during a four year World Cup cycle.
I have spoken to many Thai Coaches and international players and listened to their opinion and advice. There is a great deal of knowledge and talent within the Thai Football and education community. What I have learned is that no one person has all the knowledge, there needs to be a synthesis of all the people involved in football, administrators, Coaches , sponsors and of course players. To give it a simplified name, Goal 22 could be a Football THAILAND initiative aimed at laying down the foundations required to give our elite youth footballers the highest chance possible to succeed at the elite level as adult footballers.
Goal 22 would aim to develop the next generation of Footballers who will compete at the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and 2022.
When examining world's best practice, that being youth academies in developed footballing nations such as England, Japan, Germany and Spain and Italy, we fall below the required standard particularly in organization and facilities. The reality is that they have far greater financial investment in facilities and man power.
All academic and football research into the area of expertise clearly identifies that there needs to be at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert performer. It is generally agreed in the Thailand football community that our elite players are not currently developed in an environment in which we can compete against other countries throughout the world. Whilst some truly great players have emerged, this may have been through sheer talent or luck. Also the numbers have not been sufficient to make great teams. We need to develop a National Curriculum which highlights a number of gaps in the development of our players.
All of these gaps relate to technical development. From attacking creativity to the tactics of defence. All require a huge amount of technical development. Not for one or two players but for the whole team. Time is the most important ingredient for technical development. One cannot expect to kick a ball a few times in training and expect that during the game you will be successful. Learning requires a permanent change in behaviour. Repetition is critical to make this permanent change. Time is the investment and the environment must extend and challenge players to excel. THAILAND must make some real changes to our current structure in youth development in order to give our best players the best opportunity to reach the same levels of competency as our counterparts elsewhere the world.
It is pointed out by many Thai Coaches that our players lack the physical qualities and game awareness needed to be successful in international football. Whilst technically Thai footballers are excellent. Also potential world class players have been produced such as Pyapong, Zico, Tawan and Surachai Therefore THAILAND must create an environment that at the very least replicates what other countries do in the delivery of successful youth programs.
From experience and observation all over the world, it is clear that technical proficiency and game awareness result from a long term football development plan implemented and monitored by the Association with the support of clubs, governments and of course corporate sponsors. Players must train at least 4 times per week for over ten years in the youth phase. In addition, regular competition is structured to reinforce the skills and tactical components that are learnt through repetition on the training field. The strengths of our competitors are numerous. They may not have the numbers of players we have, but they often have facilities and most importantly the money. Our strength will have to be our passion and love of the game.
It is obvious that we have very successful Grass roots programs, illustrated by the number of players both male and female that we have. Therefore the next step may be to direct our financial and human resource investment to the best of the best, the elite young player. This requires careful identification and nurturing of the best players in the best environment. We must continue to learn and implement the principles behind the world's best youth programs.
The final step is to exceed them. We must anticipate footballing trends and teach our players accordingly. In order to deliver a quality youth development program four principles of youth development must be considered.
1. The best players: The starting point is critical to the end product, identification is key. It must not be a victim of nepotism, a poor boy must have equal rights as a rich boy.
2. The best coaches: Football educators not just football coaches, playing experience vital.
3. The best facilities: You will not develop good players on poor pitches. Maybe use artificial surfaces?
4. The best football curriculums: Sound education practices including Sports Sciences and Strong links with Universities
What we can control is; effective identification, training time, quality of coaching, development program structure, curriculum and cost. We must aim to be world leaders in the implementation of development initiatives with limited resources. We must be creative in our approach and must maximise our talent pool. The best interest of player development must be at the heart of the football community.
Creating an environment that will positively affect performance is an issue that eludes many of the best clubs in the world. The English Academy structure is constantly changing as they don't feel they have got it right yet. However Associations and Clubs that have succeeded share a number of common elements. These include identifying the best players, providing an environment that focuses on technical development linked to appropriate competition
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
2014 World Cup
World Cup qualification for the 2014 World cup will start in 2012; hence the Thailand National team should consist of Current national players aged between 24-28 The SEA Games team The best players from the U19s A continued search for Thai origin players playing professionally overseas These players are in many cases already identified. What is needed now is a planned competitive program for the national team with a detailed physiological program for the individual players. It is apparent that only a few TPL Clubs are physically developing the players in the best manner.
2018 World Cup Players will need to be identified who are born in the years 1988-1994 1988/89/90 will be developed through the TPL and regional league and current national team Programs 1991 Players could be trained in the WORLD CUP 22 program for 1 year on a regional basis 1992/3 Players could be trained in the WORLD CUP 22 program for 2 years on a regional basis 2022 World Cup Players born between 1994- 2000 The identification U10 - born 2000 & 2001 U12 - born 1998 & 1999 U14 - born 1996 & 1997 U15 - born 1994 & 1995 WORLD CUP 22 TRAINING PROGRAM Football THAILAND could provide players with a training environment specific to their geographical region facilitating an easy option for parents to access player development.
The many benefits of a WORLD CUP 22 Program include: International recognition (and possible funding) for Youth development Access to year-round elite training, coaches and competitions for free Minimal effect on clubs (maybe 42 players per age group to be selected) Training within a periodised program integrated with a specific long term Football Development Program Game specific skill development for players Integrated social, cognitive and emotional development Professional development opportunity for coaches working with elite athletes on a full-time basis. Leading to Coach talent Identification and career paths for Thai Coaches. Improved regional selection process through daily contact with the best players in the best environment Country Development Scheme for outside of Bangkok
A good plan will improve our chances of success. We owe it to our young players to give them the best opportunity.
Bryan Robson has been here a week already and he is really loving it. The reception by the fans has been magnificent and he says he can feel a real genuine love of football here at all levels of the game.
His aim is of course to watch as many players as possible and he enjoyed the Muangthong v BEC game on Sunday and the BEC v Thai Port Cup final is the next task. However, nights have been used to watch DVDs of Thailand games and of course Singapore games so that we can prepare as professionally and as well as possible.
His initial reaction has been very positive and he has highlighted players that have taken his eye. The Thai league was a great year for football and I can't wait for next season to start.
Will Muanthong and Chonburi be able to keep their dominance? Or will teams like BEC, Thai Port and Bangkok Glass boost their squads for a closer challenge. It's no different to the EPL!
Zico will be leaving which is a great pity as I thought not only was he a legend as a player but was developing into an excellent coach. Also there is the danger that Indonesia and Vietnamese clubs will come to Thailand and "plunder" some of our best players to go to their leagues. The answer is simple, economics! Football is a profession and a very short and precarious one. So players have to go where they can maximize their talents to support their families. The same as in any type of job.
The answer is can Thai league clubs acquire the funds to keep the players and can they even bring some back from overseas? The Singapore League is really struggling with 6 star players suddenly leaving for Indonesia. It's great if a player leaves for Europe both for the individual and the professional development of the game and we have players who have that ability. But it's not good for our game if they are attracted to lower leagues by bigger salaries.
I think there will be many positive initiatives in the TPL next year and Dr Vichit is working hard to undertake this. The National team program and the TPL are working in harmony to work out what is best for the players and for the fans. The season will be here soon and Muanthong will be in action in Champions league play offs against SAF of Singapore and Da Nang of Vietnam. Great games and times for Thailand football.
HOW CAN WE GET BETTER?
The Thai premier league has been a magnificent success this year with booming crowds and increased media coverage. People all over Asia are talking about the league. Facts that possibly only Vietnam football can equal. However, the sign of quality management of any organisation is that they are always looking to improve the product. How can this be done?
I am often asked these questions and as I have not got the phone numbers of Roman Abramovich or a few Saudi billionaires I can suggest purely on a personal basis things that would make the game better for both players and fans.
The pitch is the most underrated factor in Thai football development. If you ever get a chance to go to an EPL game try to get as close to the pitch as possible (You won't get on it) and that is my argument. The pitches are sacred and are only used once every two weeks. No training on them and not even reserve or youth games. Hence the pitches are like snooker tables. When the pitch is like this, then players can play one touch football which is the aim of all great teams.
On a practical level preparation for our Jordan game in Amman, Thailand trained on the Aspire Academy pitches in Doha. The training sessions were some of the best football the Thais had played. Due to an excellent flat surface. The surfaces of TPL clubs are not good enough. It's often only caring about the pitch or actually having a grounds man who knows his job then the pitch could be far better. It can be done, and everybody in the game will benfit.
Liverpol were not happy with the national stadium, so that puts it in perspective. At a lower level the better the pitches the better the technique of young players will be. The technique of Thai footballers is world class; they just can't always show it on hard bumpy pitches.
The behavior of players and coaches is also a key point. There is an epidemic of time wasting by players with fake injuries and the pressure on the opposition to kick a ball out of play for "Fair Play". The reality is that this is not going to happen in International football. Indra Shadan of Singapore and Le Cong Vinh of Vietnam will not stop scoring because a Thai defender has cramp! I would encourage all players to play on and only stop if the Referee decides the injury is genuine. Some of the acting is pathetic and as a fan I would be sick of seeing the stretcher bearers on every few minutes
On the subject of referees I cannot believe the public abuse that is allowed to be given to the referees by coaches and officials, I would have been bankrupt and suspended if I had said these things when I was coaching in Singapore or Malaysia. Also it should be set in concrete, players and officials should never be allowed to touch a referee. Any physical contact should be a red card.
And in conclusion the "walk off" is a phenomenon that I have only seen in Thailand. The answer is simple, if a team walks off, the game stops and the opposition is awarded the game 3-0. It would soon stop. Referees will mistakes, but so do Coaches and players. Accept that this is part of the game. use official channels to complain if something is justified. If a Thai team does this in an AFC game then there will be a massive punishment. I have watched genuine sincere players not wanting to come off but being forced to by Officials. There is no place for the walk off.
Finally I believe that clubs must look at their foreign player recruitment policy. If a clubs foreigners are better than Thais, bringing in crowds, are good professional role models, then you have recruited well and got "value for money". But if your foreigners are on the bench then what is the point of having them? Also as a national coach it is frustrating to see a young Thai, usually a striker, on the bench when a bigger foreigner is chosen who may not have the skill of the Thai. How can we develop Thai strikers if they don't play?
Maybe a 3+1 rule with the +1 being an Asian player would be a start to the problem. But if your club is having a high turnover of foreigners inside the season then you have to look at the selection process.
There are so many great things happening in Thai Football and it must be a great time to be a young player and also an exciting time if you are a fan. The atmosphere at 99% of TPL games is wonderful with a great family atmosphere. These are only my opinions I could be wrong! But that is the beauty of the game. We never get it all right and we never will all agree on everything. But as long as we strive to improve and develop the game then healthy informed discussion is vital to the game. The game is like a jigsaw, players, fans, media and officials. We all need each other to make a great product.
There has been a lot of worldwide interest in Bryan (Robson) 's appointment. I've had calls from Korea, Vietnam, the AFC website, South Africa, Brazil and Singapore. I was also featured in an article written by Shamir Osman, from Today newspaper in Singapore. I was at a press conference yesterday when I said that I believe that Bryan has already had a positive effect on the team. And, as for the current set up, we are definitely confident.
We have a full squad that is highly motivated and in football if you don't think you can win, then you might as well not play. I don't think that the absence of a head coach will affect Thailand because my presence ensures continuity. I was heavily involved with the team when Peter was here and in essence this squad is my selection.
I've laid out the training programme leading up to the qualifiers, and that was the same with Peter. Bryan will find it difficult to get to know the boys within a couple of weeks, but I've sent him a couple of DVDs including the Liverpool match, and we will take part in a mini-tournament at the end of October with the main aim being to give Bryan a chance to see the players in action.
The Thailand national team will play in the Siamsport Cup in Phuket between October 26th and October 29th. The other competeing teams will be clubs from Vietnam and Myanmar and the Thai SEA Games squad (under-23s) . There may also be a friendly against Syria on November 7th.
Having watched the Greek and Hungarian opponents of Liverpool and Everton in action I am certain that our best Thai players could make it in these European leagues. There is no doubt that in the next few years one of our elite players will be in the right place and at the right time to make it in Europe.
Why am I so certain? Because in the 1980s many Australians were skeptical that their players could make it in Europe, but once players such as Craig Johnson and Tony Dorigo made the breakthrough there was almost an avalanche of players going to Europe. Whilst I was working at the Australian of Institute of Sport in the 90s players such as Viduka, Neill, Emerton, Grella and Muscat all passed through and made great careers in Europe.
I also went to watch Peter Reid's team in action against Manchester United. The reality in English football is that there are massive differences in playing budgets even in the same division and you have to admit that despite being a Liverpool fan Manchester United are a bit special.
Also this week I met up with Bryan Robson in Manchester to discuss plans for the Thai National team. I can certainly tell all the Thai fans he is enthusiastic and keen to get down to working with the players. At the moment he is watching tapes of Thailand games and trying to learn the nicknames of Thai players. I told him it's a lot easier to remember Meow rather than NATTHAPONG SAMANA or Tam rather than NARONGCHAI VATCHIRABAN ! He will be arriving on October 16 and immediately watching the last Thai league game of the season and then the FA Cup Final and also visiting clubs that are in training. The national team will then play an exhibition game in the South of Thailand on the 24th, then play in a mini tournament in Phuket against HAGL of Vietnam and a Myanmar team. Hopefully there will also be a senior International game in Bangkok before the vital Asian cup Qualifiers v Singapore.
I will be back in Thailand in the next few days and am looking forward to the big game on the 4th Muangthong v Chonburi. The Thai League has been great to watch this year both professionally as a coach and as someone who just loves football. So it's good bye to fish and chips and hello to Tom yam again!
This week I will be attending training session at Manchester City and Stoke City and I will also be watching how Liverpool's Hungarian opponents in the Champions league prepare for their away game. It's always interesting to see how teams prepare for an away trip as its something we (Thai national team) will be doing in November.
Due to internet technology I am able to keep up to date on all the Thai players. Last night I watched Chonburi draw 2-2 with Binh Duong in the AFC Cup and this weekend I will be able to watch Surat play for Melbourne. These games are televised on internet gambling sites, which are legal in England. I will also be able to watch Peter Lange playing in the Swiss League.
I am in the process of preparing a dossier on the Singapore team in preparation for the Asian Cup. The Chinese philosopher Tsu Zsu believed that to be victorious in your battle you had to know the enemy.
A lot of the Singapore players are now leaving the S League to play in the Indonesian League. The main reason is that Indonesia has introduced a 3+2 rule where a team can use 5 foreign players. 3 from anywhere in the world and 2 must be from Asia. I know many of the Thai national Team are in demand but the quality of the Thai league will, I think, ensure that our players stay in Thailand.
Next week I will be watching a member of Capello's staff put on a coaching session on "pressing", a tactical concept that all modern teams are using. The Thai national team have already started to implement it and the SEA Games team will start to use it soon.
Also I hope Leesaw's goal I saw on the internet was disallowed for hand ball! because he was never offside. He had 4 defenders in front of him when the ball was played. An interesting decision!
I went to a Thai restaurant in Liverpool last week and the food wasn't spicy! I think it was designed for the farang market, so I'm already missing the food that makes my eyes water!
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