Mano steps down after fourth loss in a row for Bangkok United

Mano Polking has resigned as head coach of Bangkok United as a fourth successive defeat left his side eight points off the top of the Thai League (T1) table.

Sunday’s 5-4 home loss to Sukhothai spelled the end of a six-and-a-half year spell at the club – a period that saw the Bangkok Angels go from relegation strugglers to one of the top teams in the country.

In the post-match press conference, Polking announced his decision had been made following a discussion with the club president.

“I have decided to resign as head coach of Bangkok United after six-and-a-half-years because I believe the team needs something new,” he said. “I cannot reach them (the players) any more after four defeats in a row.

“Today, it was important to win and if you concede five goals in a game that you have to win…. I believe that the players really tried and really fought for me – I am 100 percent sure about that. But at the end, we lost again. And after four defeats in a row for a team like Bangkok United, I think the best thing to do is to try something different.”

Polking was keen to stress that he would continue to support the club in their battle for this season’s prizes.

“These players are unbelievably good,” he said. “They are the right ones to chase for the championship. They are working hard, they are good characters and I really wish them and Bangkok United all the best. I will always be cheering them. They deserve to be champions one day and I’m sure that sooner or later it will happen.”

Polking’s rollercoaster ride at the club had many memorable moments and some of his teams were renowned for their free scoring attacking style. However, he never managed to get his hands on the silverware his club craved and this is what has ultimately resulted in his departure.

Bangkok United finished as runners-up in 2016 and 2018 and have not been out of the Top Five since finishing eighth in 2014 – the year in which Polking arrived at the club.

However, such impressively consistent levels of performance were not enough for a club of Bangkok United’s ambition. Polking was backed in the transfer market in 2019, but a fourth place finish was a huge disappointment in a very open title race.

The Brazilian admitted he expected to lose his job after that failure, but the decision to give him one more chance in 2020 looked an inspired choice when he led the team to five straight wins to begin the campaign.

However, the 2-0 home defeat to BG Pathum United last month seemed to trigger a loss of confidence and further losses at Chonburi and Ratchaburi left Polking’s job in serious doubt when in-form Sukhothai visited the Thamassat Stadium.

The chaotic nature of the 5-4 defeat saw the best and worst of Bangkok United, with poor defending combined with some fine attacking play.

Polking has always been committed to expansive, possession-based, attacking football, but he hasn’t managed to turn this into trophy-winning football. 

He became the second head coach casualty of the weekend, with Alexandre Gama having quit Muang Thong the previous evening. If rumours are to be believed, Gama may replace Polking.

As for Polking, he is likely to have other options if he chooses to stay in Thailand. He had a successful year at Army United back in 2013 before a short spell at Suphanburi failed to work out. 

In a country in which the lifespan of a head coach is remarkably short, arguably Polking’s greatest achievement has been to stay at one the country’s best teams for so long. 

Australian Danny Invincibile – who played under Polking at Army United and had been working as the club’s head of academy – becomes interim head coach ahead of Bangkok United’s trip to face Nakhon Ratchasima next weekend.

Paul Murphy

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