Now for the ones who will be looking towards the highest region of the table with dreamy eyes, and should be positive about what the 2020 season may bring, but who I still predict will fall short of the big boys at the top. Teams 5-8:
5. PT Prachuap
Now an established T1-side, following a fantastic debut season but struggling somewhat for large parts of the second one after losing their two foreign attacking aces to league rivals and failing to find proper replacements. This window, the club has been very active, possibly building the best ASEAN contingent in the country, bringing in a very solid AFC player in former Buriram and Ratchaburi midfielder Yoo Jun-soo and making the one of the most surprising move of them all in signing William Henrique from reigning champions Chiangrai. If the Brazilian striker Bruno Mazenga, who was heavily linked with Buriram in the fall, turns out to produce what his record suggest he’s capable of, all the pieces are there to be the team truly challenging to break into the top four. Just like Trat, the geographical location of the southernmost team in T1 also brings a logistical advantage that makes for a particularly prominent home advantage.
Player to watch: William Henrique
6. Ratchaburi Mitr Pohl
Climbed a fair bit in the table from 2018 to finish in the top half in 2019 and nearly even bringing home some silverware but losing the FA Cup-final after some questionable VAR involvement. The managerial madness that is the Ratburi status quo has started early this year, with supposed head coach, the would be first female to hold that position in T1 Nuengruthai Srathongvian, nowhere to be found during pre-season, but at least there’s enough consistency in the squad, that’s pretty much intact with all three foreign attackers, including the star performer Steeven Langil, still at the club, while both dept and quality has been added to try and improve even further this year.
Player to watch: Steeven Langil
7. Muangthong United
Muangthong has dropped numerous important pieces of their puzzle, allegedly due to some financial strain at their main backers, SCG, including but not limited to: Hebery Fernandes, Bruno Gallo and Teersail Dangda. Gambling on replacements like Willian Popp and Sardor Mirzaev, it’s up to manager Alexandre Gama, who already saved the club from an embarrassing relegation battle in his first half season in charge, to do what he does best, create a collective of players who will do anything to get something from every game. But there’s little that speaks in favour of this season being about more than rebuilding to come back stronger in the future.
Player to watch: Sardor Mirzaev
8. Chonburi FC
A very poor start to 2019 prompted Chonburi to act by a change in leadership that saw them leave the relegation zone comfortably behind. To build on this, the club has resorted to short term planning by bringing in a collection of ageing high profile T1 players. However, the likes of Teerathep Winothai and Dragan Boskovic may well have just enough dry powder left for one last hoorah and be the leaders that the younger talents at the club need and what they have is enough to aim for a mid-table finish.
Player to watch: Dragan Boskovic