Chiang Mai FC fire coach Fukuda

Chiang Mai FC announced today that head coach Jun Fukuda has been sacked.

CMFC lost for the first time this season at home to Nakhon Si United on Sunday night. They remain top of the table.

The club’s English language announcement said that:

“Chiangmai football club would like to announce that the club have parted ways with head coach Jun Fukuda. Assistant head coach, Jakkapan Pornsai , will fill in as the club interim head coach.

Chiangmai football club appreciate Jun Fukuda’s hard work and dedication for the club throughout his time and would like to wish him all the best in the future.”

In Thai the announcement added that “Despite this, the club still has the same policy which is to create pride for Chiang Mai people as the slogan The Pride Of Chiangmai and move back to the top league.”

Pride? We get knocked out of the FA Cup by an amateur team of policemen and then fire our coach after the first league defeat of the season. There is nothing there to be proud of.

And we then appoint as interim head coach the assistant coach – who was in charge of the farce in Chumphon.

Do not be surprised if he is given the job on a full time basis. This may well be no more than convenient cost cutting.

Fukuda-san came to Chiang Mai at the start of the 2022-2023 season. He made all the right noises about challenging for promotion. But in reality, with Bangkok Glass still as owners his hands were tied.

He was unlucky to lose Stenio Jnr after the seventh game of the season; Then mid season BGPU required that Chiang Mai FC return four players including the strikers Stenio Junior and Patrik Gustavsson.

Chiang Mai eventually finished 11th.

What was clear is that Fukuda brought discipline to training and planning; a professionalism that reflected both his work ethic and his love of football. He worked not just with the team but to improve individual players.

Of course there were concerns last year about team selection; about an overly cautious style of playl about the time taken to make changes. But how much say did the coach have in day-to day decision making? We could never have been promoted so a mid table finish was all that was available – even if that could not be publicly stated.

Last night the coach was criticised for making three 90th minutes changes; but the reality was the players on the pitch were more likely to equalize than the players that came on and we besieged the NakhonSi goal for the last ten minutes after they took the lead.

In March the club announced the change in ownership from BGPU to local businessman and grandson of the former owner, Yosmaetha Jantaraviroj. CMFC would again be locally owned.

For 2023-2024 a new contract was announced for Fukuda and a number of high profile signings were made to build a squad that could make an immediate return to T1.

Chiang Mai started the season in style – scoring nineteen goals in five home games while not conceding a single goal in three away games.

Yesterday’s game could easily have gone the other way, It was far from being a loss that warranted dismissal.

At the end of the game Fukuda was taken by the owner to sit in the away team dugout. There were still fans in the stadium and some players and families on the pitch.

I feel bad – I started singing – ‘you will be sacked in the morning.’ I was not serious – but it did look like that sort of conversation. But why there? Some meetings should be held in private. They should also be held with a witness/HR present of only for legal protection – clearly not an issue in Thailand.

Was his sacking pre-meditated – or was it decided in the last ten minutes of the game when we were 2-3 down? Does the owner have a plan? Or was this about reducing costs?

The players had no idea that Fukuda’s job was at risk. They were told after last night’s game. Charyl Chappuis’ message was to the point:

“Thank you so much coach. I wish you all the best in the future. I am thankful for everything you did for us. Great coach and even better human being.”

Other than the above statement the club has said nothing more. Fukuda, as he would, has also maintained a dignified silence.

At the beginning of the season the owner met with supporters groups – it looked like the beginning of a well meant consultative process. That appears to have lasted for less than three months.

The relationship between the coach (coaches) and the players is key to the success of a football club. Owners trying to get into the middle of that relationship do their club no favours and owners taking decisions that they fail to explain lose the trust of their players and staff.

I cannot help but feel that this thoroughly decent, intelligent man has been treated very shabbily indeed.

This could be a difficult time for CMFC. A great deal of goodwill has been thrown away.