Southeast Asia Thailand

Shock at the PAT as Dusit Steps Down from Port Role

Last season’s Thai League 1 winning-head coach Dusit Chalermsan has stepped down from his post at Port FC on Thursday. Dusit, who won the 2020/21 Thai League 1 season with BG Pathum United, felt that he should shoulder the responsibility for Port’s inconsistent form in the 2021/22 season, with the supposed title challengers languishing in mid-table, a good 11 points off joint-leaders Buriram United and True Bangkok United.

Port went above and beyond in their quest to improve upon three consecutive 3rd place finishes in the league by hijacking Dusit from the BGPU hierarchy, with the Glass Rabbits having transferred Dusit from their coaching setup to their reserve team Rajpracha FC down in the Thai League 2 following the arrival of Australian head coach Aurelio Vidmar from Singaporean side Lion City Sailors. Feeling that he has a point to prove following his abrupt “demotion,” Dusit accepted the offer from an ambitious Port management and jumped ship to the PAT Stadium.

Dusit was no stranger to Port – having handled the team for two years between 2012 and 2014 – however, this was the first time that he took charge of the Lions of Khlong Toei underneath the wealthy and ambitious leadership of Nualpham Lamsam, who had overseen Port’s transformation from mediocrity to title challengers since she had taken over the club in 2015.

It was hoped that Dusit’s appointment would finally bring a sense of stability to a club known for their scattergun recruiting policy – recruiting Thai League stars like they’re the Infinity Stones – and their inability to land themselves a proper head coach to lead their star-studded squad.

However, Dusit’s second Port stint was quite rocky, to say the least. After playing out two draws in their first two Thai League 1 matches, the Lions of Khlong Toei claimed their first win in their third attempt, a 2-0 home win over newly-promoted Khonkaen United, however, Suphanburi FC brought them crashing down to Earth after the War Elephants edged Port out 2-1 in their fourth league match.

Dusit did lead Port to a 1-0 win over arch-rivals Muangthong United in Matchweek 5, before a second consecutive victory was achieved with a 2-0 win away at another promoted side, Chiangmai United. However, from there the inconsistencies struck again.

Port’s next six games in all competitions saw them win only twice, a 2-0 home win over PT Prachuap in the league and a spectacular 22-1 demolition job of amateur side MBF Amphawa in the Thai FA Cup first round.

During that run of six, Port suffered three damaging defeats in the league – a 2-0 home loss at the hands of fellow title challengers Buriram United, a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Chonburi FC where the Sharks scored a last-minute winner, and the straw that broke the camel’s back, a 3-1 defeat away at a resilient Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda.

Taking responsibility of Port’s atrocious run of form, Dusit resigned only hours before Port’s Matchweek 12 match against Ratchaburi Mitr Phol at the PAT Stadium.

“I feel responsible for the team’s failure to meet its early targets,” said Dusit as quoted from Bangkok Post, “I have to show responsibility and let the club find a more suitable person to guide the team to better results. I apologize to everyone that I couldn’t deliver the expected results.”

Sarawut Treephan once again returned to the dugout as Port’s caretaker coach as the Lions of Khlong Toei took on the Dragons on Thursday, with Port edging Ratchaburi out 1-0 thanks to a 69th minute strike from Bordin Phala.

Chairwoman Nualpham, nicknamed “Madam Pang” by everyone in the footballing fraternity, expressed her shock at Dusit’s sudden departure.

“The news of Dusit’s decision to resign came as a shock,” said Nualpham, who also serves as manager of both the Thailand senior and U-23 national teams, as quoted from Bangkok Post, “I have just returned from the AFC U-23 Championship qualifying event in Mongolia and had let the staff coaches handle the club affairs. He put in a lot of hard work but we have to move on from here and make every effort possible to bring success to the club.”

While the head coach turnover at Port is not as atrocious as Ratchaburi – the Lions of Khlong Toei having changed head coaches 8 times compared to Ratchaburi’s 15 since 2017 – it still raises a number of eyebrows as it’s a sign that the Port management is either showing little patience for their ambitious project, or they’re unable to cohesively gel together their star-studded squad with the head coach of their choosing.

Whoever takes over at the PAT – be it Sarawut or another head coach, will face a mammoth task of not only catching up with the league leaders but also finally bringing a sense of stability to a talented squad that surely deserves much better than three consecutive bronze medals, a Thai League 2 trophy, and a Thai FA Cup trophy to their name in the 7 years of Madam Pang’s reign.