Sunday, 1 January 2012

The 2011 awards

Well yes, I could make your hangover worse by talking about the loss at Buriram yesterday in the last minute of the game. I could dampen the cheer by pointing out several players apologising for "poor form" on the OS (not the people that should be apologising, mind you) but I'd rather wish everyone a Happy New Year and move on to more positive things.

So after you've seen Robbie's message in the Twitter feed it's time for the Thunderdome Blog's 2011 awards! These awards are by far the least prestigious in football and attract absolutely no stars and cameramen every year. Moreover, the prize for each award is a cup of tea (Twinings or Lipton) awarded to the player as soon as they turn up at my home. The current number of acceptances stands at zero, as of 1/1/2012.

The first award is....

Newcomer of the year

Kayem - great potential
This is a toughie because a lot of new faces arrived in 2011 but the performances were very mixed. Yet despite the setbacks of the year some very encouraging new boys have come through. In the full back slots two very promising baby-faced players made a name for themselves. On the right we had Arthit and on the left we have our winner, Weerawut Kayem. He made his debut last year but really shone this season by holding his own in the big game against PEA at home, proving he had the mental skill as well as the physical. He was recently injured but has now returned. Like Kawin, he seems friendly and humble and that should make for an excellent career.

Goalie or Defender of the year

Nattaporn - not scared of the trenches
Champions should always have quality and depth in this area and MTU are no different. Last year we had Asia's best goalie, Jetsada, Panupong and Nattaporn. This year Zesh took time to adjust but has comfortably filled the void left by the self-destructing Jetsada and the back line is as strong as ever. The recent setbacks have possibly dented the confidence of young Kawin and his form has dipped but Manchester United don't scout players without good reason, he's brilliant and he'll be back to form soon.

What's been really pleasing about this season is the way winner Nattaporn Pannarit stepped up to the plate and took over the captain's armband. Every challenge, every header and every clearance has been battled for by this guy and his performances early in the season were the only thing that's stopped us getting trounced even more often. He's shown real character and deserves the award.

Midfielder of the year

Dagno-catch him if you can 
It's not been a great season for our midfielders. Some new signings didn't fit in as well as they hoped - perhaps they haven't been given enough of a chance - and some players didn't have as good as season as last year 2010. But still there have been some great showings. Piyapol Buntao is looking more consistent, Pitchipong battles back every time he looks to be fading away and Datsakorn still hit a few goals. But this decision is fairly easy: Dagno Siaka is one of the few players who has looked as good as last season. His long legs defy his deft first touch and turn of pace and the way he drifts between midfield and attack pulls opposition players out of position, creating openings for his team-mates. He must be hell to mark.

Attacker of the year:

Christian Koukou is the only choice here, apart from....

(drumroll).......The 2011 Player of the year.....

Remember that goal Vs Oz?
"The best striker in Thailand" is how one of my students described him, and he was right. If the interest around Teerasil "Mui" Dangda ends up in a transfer, then we must either sign a European striker in his prime or accept we are not title challengers anymore, because there is nobody in Thailand that is as two-footed, quick-thinking, able with his back to goal, composed, committed or excellent at finishing as this guy. Before this season's home game with Saraburi, a former MTU coach told me we'd struggle if Mui got injured. Sure enough, he got injured and our form plummeted. It's not coincidence. Teerasil Dangda is class to the point where I feel guilty for paying a paltry sum of  baht to watch him ply his trade, which brings me on to.....

Goal of the year:

Plenty of choice, but Teerasil's goal at home to Thai Port takes it because it came from a Thai Port, with a brilliant break and perfect through-ball by Christian before "Mui" shows his usual class. Watch the magic at work.

Game of the year:
MTU 9 Samut Prakan United 0
It's not been a year of demolition derbies like last season but such goal-fests could never last forever. There's still been plenty to cheer about at home though, and a nine goal thrashing, even against a lower league team, was still very satisfying to watch.

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