Newin was up. Newin was down. And football-y and politically speaking, Newin Chidchob will never be out.
The playmaker from Buri Ram has endured a below-par season this year, with his ambition to see Buriram United (BU) repeat its Thai Premier League championship ultimately beyond his reach. The magic has faded for an unknown reason. One of them probably is a lack of drive among BU players after the hugely successful season last year when the club made history by sweeping all Thai football trophies.
This year it is totally different. He kicks the air in frustration on the sidelines, gets angry at his players and argues with the referee. BU's most terrible moment was probably on Oct 7 when it let Army United come back from three goals down to get a draw and snatch a point from his team.
The Thunder Castle still has a chance to keep the Toyota League Cup and Thaicom Foundation FA Cup in his northeastern home. But the most desirable trophy is nothing but to be the league leader.
''We are in this situation because we've had a wrong strategy,'' he admitted to his hometown fellows.
Like the football team, his Bhumjaithai Party is not in a good shape either. After switching to the opposition bench in parliament, the party looks confused and has lost direction. That is beyond expectations given its role back when it was part of the previous coalition government captained by Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Mr Newin says he has washed his hands of politics despite his five-year political ban being over and now enjoys a new lease of life.
''I no longer have any ambitions to assume any political positions,'' he said on his 54th birthday on Oct 4. ''I am very happy today. I spend 70% of my time with football and the other 30% with my motorbike.''
A promise to his hometown folk is: ''Next year I definitely will bring the Thai Premier League championship back to you.''
Despite showing no interest in politics and cabinet posts, it would be unwise to believe he has left for good the party he has moulded from the onset. Mr Newin is not Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who left the New Aspiration Party (NAP) behind to join Thaksin Shinawatra before the multi-billionaire turned fugitive six years ago. The NAP still exists in Thai politics but it is not the same anymore. The party is virtually out of the picture after its heyday when Gen Chavalit led it into a core position in a coalition government.
Bhumjaithai have a new captain in Anuthin Charnvirakul, who takes over the leadership torch from his father, Chavarat. But the party still needs a strategist like Mr Newin to pull it out of a slump.
Do not forget that the Buri Ram politician was behind the success of Thaksin. He was Thaksin's right-hand man before being forced to defect to the Democrat camp to form a government.
Mr Newin cannot stand seeing the party he set up with Mr Anuthin become a mediocre group in parliament. He always plays a role behind the scenes for Bhumjaithai and local politics in Buri Ram and neighbouring provinces where his name remains popular and his political influence is formidable for opponents.
Getting Bhumjaithai back on its feet is not going to be easy, but he knows very well that nothing stays forever in politics. Just take a look at what happened to Thaksin. Who could imagine that he would have ended up the way he has and yet still come back onto the scene through his nominee.
Bringing glory back to his football team next season is not only Mr Newin's top priority. He will try again to make the Thunder Castle roar. That is much easier than the other job of helping his friend, Mr Anuthin, to revitalise Bhumjaithai and make it a party not to be overlooked.
Mr Newin has promised his football fans to put BU on top of the league again next season. He did not make any promise to help Bhumjaithai. But no doubt, he certainly will do that on the sidelines of the political turf.
Saritdet Marukatat is Digital Media News Editor, Bangkok Post
About the author
- Writer: Saritdet Marukatat
Position: Opinion-Editorial Pages Editor