This time last season, it was ‘now or never’ for Bangkok United, whose off-season investment warranted a title to show for all their efforts. Needless to say, things didn’t go as planned for the Angels, who ultimately came in fourth place and were knocked out of the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
However, against widespread expectation, coach Mano Polking has chosen to remain at the club and fight once again for the trophy that the side has longed for. He spoke to Football Tribe’s Gian Chansrichawla and Obb Deewajin about what he learned from last season, and what the club plans to take forward for the 2020 campaign.
I guess the best place to start is with the ‘elephant in the room’ shall we say – your decision to stay at the club. Previously you said that after a trophyless season you would consider leaving, but clearly the owner Khun Kajorn has shown huge faith in you. What made you decide to stay?
When we made this statement, it was also meant to take the pressure off the players who were not in a good moment. We had just lost a game against Chonburi but we were still in the quarter-finals of the cup. I just wanted to tell the club, when I did that, that we are still going to fight until the end, but if in the end, if it is time to part ways because we don’t have the trophies that we want, I am ok with that.
The president asked if I was sure and I said of course. I still have two years left on my contract, but it’s not about the contract. If in the end, we didn’t get anything, you have already given me everything in my career. This club is the club that made my career. It was a good talk, and a good way to say look, if you don’t win anything, because we invested a lot this season, we can go separate ways. It’s not like we need to go, or I am resigning if we don’t win, but I am just giving you the freedom to tell me ‘look Mano, it’s enough, we will try a different way.’
So we kept fighting, and we lost [the FA Cup semi-final] on penalties, and it looked like I was going because of that statement. But we still had three games to play after that. And during that time we kept in touch and kept talking about the reasons why [we struggled]. I was also doing my analysis that we always do to finalize the season, about what went wrong, what went good, and why it didn’t work out. In the end I had some meetings with the board, just to give him my report, and then two or three weeks later we met again and he asked: “Mano, what if you try one more time?”
I said look boss, again, from my view I would try forever with you. Because what you want is the same thing that I want. And I really think that the club, sooner or later, will win something. Because I believe in what we are doing and the way we work as a club. But in the end, there is only one winner, of course, and it is not easy to say now that I’ve spent a little bit more than usual, I have to be champion. Look, I can be the champion, but still, there are other teams there that want to be champion. At the same time, we knew that after all this investment, having a good squad, believing in ourselves, that we could get something. In the end, because we didn’t get, it was always possible that I would go, but it is always the decision of the board. And like I said, this boss and this board, if they ask me to stay every year I will always say yes. Because I believe that the environment where I am and the club where I am is the best club for a football coach.