Tiger On Tour: Settle Down

Last updated : 23 January 2009 By Andy Beill
I began Saturday arriving in Surat Thani at 5am by bus from Bangkok, then waiting 2 hours to begin an excruciating high-speed catamaran ride to the Thai island of Kho Pha Ngan. I ended it watching Chelsea beat Stoke. I find it hard to wish Chelsea to win games but have had to this season as the alternative is one of City's rivals picking up points.

The half-hour wait after that finished was tiring, now almost without sleep for 24 hours. As always seems to happen when I go to bars to watch the match, the channel was turned on after City's line-up was shown, and as usual with Phil Brown continuing to juggle his team it took a while to name the 11 players. For starters it was the first I'd learnt of Kilbane's signing. The other puzzle was the four right-sided players in the team: A bold decision to play Ryan France in central midfield, presumably after a good performance in the cup (not televised here), and a surprise seeing Sam Ricketts at centre back. I wondered for a while if it was really him or a lookalike genuine centre back we signed along with Kilbane. Then in the second half an interesting proposition named Manucho entered the field. I later found out it was as much of a mystery to those back in Hull where King was as to me out of the loop in Thailand.

I enjoyed the match itself and thought it was a good City performance. We were up against it at the start of the second half but found Arsenal having one of those spells where their ruthless streak was missing, and after frustrating them I could sense Cousin's goal coming. As it was we were punished by referee decisions rather than by Arsenal (the penalty and the offside both looking clearcut over here).

The weather was baking hot on Kho Pha Ngan and I spent most of my time in the pool. I think the island is enjoyed more by those who like drinking buckets (literally) of spirits on its average beaches.

On Wednesday I got the ferry (making very clear of that when I bought the ticket) to Koh Tao. Surrounded by tropical islands, blue sea, bright sunshine and the clear sky I listened to... an hour of Terry Dolan, downloaded from the KCFM website onto my iPod. The two worlds couldn't be further apart. It was an interesting interview though, Dolan more or less describing his spell in charge as a scout to sign saleable players rather than a manager with any regard for coaching or tactics. Results and performances sounded insignificant.

Later I listened to another KCFM podcast, featuring Warren Joyce. It was apparent how important a settled line-up where each individual has clearly a defined role suited to him is to a successful team like the Great Escape side (and by means of comparison, not being able to have that the following season wrongly led to Joyce's departure). What we'd give for a solid back four with the understanding of Whitney-Greaves-Whittle-Edwards right now.

While the makeshift team can take pride from their performance against Arsenal, how long will it be until we see a settled side? I hope that once this transfer window closes Phil Brown has a happy, balanced squad he can work with and find his best team.

Andy (Tiger on Tour)