Procurer feared the defence may tire in the second half.....
Ahhh the Super Cup. A totally pointless, dull, shameless piece of cashing in by the TFA featuring four teams that had all faced each other last season and would do again next season. Who in the heck is going to be foolish enough to attend one of these matches? Well, me, obviously! And I dragged the family along, too.
After bravely overcoming MBK's entry to the "Worst managed car park of the year" award, I dashed ahead of the family towards the stadium to try and secure some tickets before kick off. When I asked the programme seller: "Where can I buy tickets?" in Thai, he kindly pointed me towards a lady selling sausages. After remonstrating with the lady and confirming that pork was not a legal tender for this match, I tried my luck with member of the mobile MTU Club Shop. He directed me to go outside the stadium and turn left. Twenty minutes and two surreal conversations with security guards later, I realised I had been misdirected.
Eventually we found our way in. The time was 1710 so I was expecting to have missed the kick off for Muangthong's game against Bangkok Glass, but in time honoured Thai tradition, the whole event was running about thirty five minutes late. Chonburi and BEC were still going at it. The first thing I notice is that BEC's contract with Arsenal appears to have expired. The new kit is hideous, so awful in fact, it couldn't be uglier if it was modelled by an otherwise naked Harry Redknapp.
The game finishes 2 - 1 to Tero. I'm tempted to call SrirachaShark and tease him but then I remember we lost to Chonburi already. And Tero, too. Oh, and we hadn't actually started today's game yet, either. The game gets underway, the ultras are in full swing and I'm thinking it feels good to be back at a football match. I soon realise a snag though, we have a deluge of new signings and with the whopping great race track around the pitch, I'm too far away to recognise players facially. The match programme thoughtfully features squad numbers for the other three teams but not MTU. It was going to be hard to recognise any of the usual suspects in action today.
The first half is scrappy but I must give credit to both teams for their effort. As the game goes on however, MTU start to ease back into old habits. Defenders appear to be going for the kind of stroll I took after my Christmas lunch each time Bangkok attack. A couple of close chances later though and it's one-nil United. Who scored?? It was at the other end of the stadium so anyone with binoculars can probably confirm the mystery player. For my part, I'm just cheering.
(Not sure why I'm impersonating a fish in this one)
At half time it's still one-nil. I notice most of the Chonburi and Tero fans have chosen to stick around, adding some nice colour to the day. The second half starts at a quicker pace and MTU start to use a little more width. One player breaks through the BG back line, turns inside one player, then wrong foots another who sticks out a foot and.....penalty! This could quite possibly be the first undisputed penalty decision I have seen in Thailand.
Yaya (no mistaking him) slots it home and we are cruising........after all, this is Muangthong, not Southampton, where any away lead is about as secure as a politician's promise.
BG are persistent little bunnies though and they pull one back shortly after. At this point the ref seems to suddenly remember he has pretty coloured cards in his pocket and he started sharing his love of them with various players. Ten minutes later, a Bangkok player slid in with a challenge so late that the Chonburi fans had just arrived home in Pattaya. The ref pulls out a red and the MTU fans are celebrating. Unfortunately, so were the players.
The rabbits broke through the defence again and inexplicably, their left midfielder was left with quite possibly the biggest amount of space I have ever seen given to any attacker in any game, period. Whoever was responsible for marking him should be drug out into the streets of Muangthong Thani and lashed with a large squid. He (the BG striker, not the Muangthong player getting lashed) took the ball almost from the halfway line to the touchline and crossed it. Kosin - who is the only reason we didn't lose by more today - saves the shot but the rebound hits home.
BG fans go wild, a few Tero fans cheer but - most noticeably - the Chonburi fans are cheering as if their own team scored. I really sense the leaders of the MTU and Chonburi fan clubs need to communicate with each other. The rivalry is now tangibly different to other rivalries in Thai football which is fine, as long as it remains peaceful. The last thing we need is violence spoiling the great family atmosphere of footy out here.
I'm just wondering how we managed to let a lead slip and give so much space to a team that's down to ten men when BG broke through and scored again. All the memories of countless away games with Southampton FC came flooding back and, temporarily, I let loose the same kind of profanity I would at a game back home, resulting in a yellow card from the wife and an intrigued look from the nipper. One day, my son, all this pain of away game defeats will be yours.
The game gets even more David Lynch like as the ref now wants to show his little yellow plastic to anyone who even looks at the ball in the wrong way. MTU are not giving up but now it's the BG players and fans alike that have the impetus. And so it is that they smash home another rebound sending both green and blue shirts in the crowd into a frenzy.
It's just a friendly, but I'm worried. Clearly MTU need to get some serious work in on the training ground before the season starts. Notable by their absence were Robert Procurer - I'm sure he would not have tolerated the non-existent marking in the second half - and several key players. With luck and hard work, the frailties of today will quickly be forgotten, and MTU will march away with the title again next season. Right now though, I think the lads have just learnt that winning the title is the easy part........