Moving on from the bottom four, its time to look at the quartet of teams who managed to squeeze into the safer spots in the upper end of the bottom half. None of the predictions proved exact but these were generally within an acceptable margin of error, some very close. Here comes team 9 through 12.
Sukhothai proved a hard nut to crack for most of their opponents during 2019, starting with eight games unbeaten and drawing more than half their games over the course of the season. With 37 goals conceded, a defensive record only the top 4 in the league managed to beat, there should have been enough stability to avoid a relegation battle. But Sukhothai only managed to equal that tally at the other end, it seems relying completely on one player to sort out the goals isn’t a completely reliable strategy, even if that player is John Baggio, The Magnificent Malagasy. Sukhothai actually found themselves in the predicted 14th spot going into the three finishing rounds and didn’t manage to climb out of it until the very last day of the season after an uncharacteristic gung-ho 4-2 win away at Korat.
I had based my prediction of an upper half finish for newly promoted PTT Rayong largely on my lingering belief in Jay Emmanuel-Thomas from he first introduced himself with some promising performances at Arsenal, and the presence of the ultimate “love to have him on your team, hate him playing for anyone else” player Victor Cardozo. Let’s just say some trust was misplaced, and some thoughts were annoyingly correct in this instance. After a couple of initial defeats, the newcomers found their footing and had a rather impressive first, and as it would prove last, season in T1. Relegation was never really on the cards, but the club still announced it would quit the league and, allegedly, focus on its youth operations. Very sad given it was one of the very nice, and newly constructed, purpose build football stadium in a seaside town. Luckily, Rayong will still have a team in the elite level of Thai footie in 2020 as Rayong FC was promoted from T2.
The last of the new boys, not only managing to stay up but doing so with some margin. Made some very successful signing, with T1 top scorer Lonsana Doumbouya as the standout, and could well have finished even higher up, had it not been for a poor run of form that brought only 3p from the last 6 rounds.
Came nowhere near to repeating the top 6 finish of 2018, but tackled the loss of the best attacking duo in T1 that year, Jonatan Reis and Lonsana Doumbouya, very well, outperforming the predicted 12th place by 3 whole spots. A rocky season, including a good start, mediocre middle, and very strong finish proved the southernmost club in the league is being run very shrewdly and in the T1 to stay.