Army United 'rest' coach Gary Stevens after three consecutive TPL defeats

Gary Stevens has been dismissed as head coach of Army United despite having recently guided the Thai Premier League (TPL) club to their best ever start to a league campaign.

The former Spurs and England defender, who played in the 1986 World Cup, announced to his Twitter followers that he had been told to "take a holiday", adding that "football is crazy the world over". Most would agree that Thai football is indeed among the craziest environments for the beautiful game.

Just over a month ago, Stevens' stock was high. Army United were top of the table after five games. But three consecutive losses in the TPL, including two defeats in four days last week, resulted in what most see as a knee jerk decision.

It seems somewhat harsh, especially given Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to high-flying Bangkok Glass was decided by a freak bounce after Army had played half of the game with 10 men and missed two penalties. Stevens leaves with the Gentlemen in seventh place in the league, two places above their final position last season.

Stevens was appointed Army United coach in August last year following the dismissal of Matt Elliott, who had lasted only half a season. He then took the team to ninth place in the TPL.

Bad luck struck before the 2015 campaign kicked off when last season's star man Raphael Botti suffered a kidney problem that ruled the Brazilian playmaker out of the first half of the TPL season.

Another of last year's top performers, the Slovak defender Zdenko Kapralik, was also missing for the first few games of the year through injury.

Despite this double blow, Stevens' side won four of their first five league games, including an impressive 3-1 victory over Ratchaburi.

It has been a stop-start campaign, interrupted by an extended international break and the Thai New Year. Perhaps the three-week break between match day five and match day six had an impact as this preceded the first defeat of the season, a 3-1 home loss to Osotspa.

Army came back from this with a 5-1 hammering of Sukhothai in the League Cup but then lost 4-3 to Nakhon Ratchasima before the defeat at the hands of the Glass Rabbits proved the final straw.

Despite the disappointment of losing his job, Stevens still found time to make a heart-warming gesture. Army United fans' Facebook page reported that a fan had travelled 9500 kilometres to Thailand to see his hero on the touchline against BEC Tero this weekend. In response, Stevens asked for the fan's contact details in order to set up a meeting.

Without Stevens in charge, Army United won 2-0 on Saturday at BEC Tero Sasana on Saturday. A penalty save by Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny was in the middle of goals from Mongkol and Anuwat.