Sacked twice in 12 months, but I want to stay in Thailand's Premier League

At the fans' open day ahead of the 2015 Thai Premier League (TPL) season, we welcomed the Prime Minister of Thailand. Before he departed, in perfect English, he announced that he expected my club, Army United FC, to finish in the top three.

A few weeks earlier, I had woken up on New Year's Day 2015 with a smile on my face in the knowledge that I had a year's contract as head coach of the middle tier TPL club.

I was quietly confident we would have a good season, but I had been doing my best to manage expectations after coming in ninth in 2014. I had taken over a few months earlier.

The first target was to establish the team as a top-half side and then drive toward the top six. Based on my knowledge of the league from the previous season, this was achievable -- but the top three was not.

There were certain players whom I needed to attract to the club, not least a top TPL-standard goalkeeper and a consistent goal scorer. I knew what I wanted and who was out there, and I tried to get the deals done.

I sensed the powers-that-be at Army United didn't want a foreigner as a keeper because, like all clubs in Thailand, they prefer the majority of their five imports to be goal scorers, creative midfielders and wingers.

I had to win the battle and eventually did. So it was a welcome for Singapore international keeper Hassan Sunny and forward Melvin de Leeuw from Holland via Scotland.

I also targeted two or three quality Thai players to provide more depth. With a reasonable share of good fortune, I thought we would have a successful season.

The first five games produced 13 points out of a possible 15 -- Army United's best start to a TPL season and a better return than I could have imagined. You take whatever bonus comes your way because you know some games will not give you the points you deserve.

Hitting the top of the table with four wins and a draw from our first five games led people to start to talk about our winning the league, but I knew we had no realistic chance.

After three subsequent defeats, we were stuck at 13 points. But after eight games, we were in a healthy, seventh position and around the total I expected at that point of the campaign.

However, I knew the next two matches were certainly winnable and 19 points from 10 games would be just ahead of my preseason target.

What I didn't expect was to be put on "gardening leave" and then sacked -- as the team won the two games under my Thai assistant, who had been put in temporary charge.

On May 13, I was officially fired "due to the recent bad pitch performance of three defeats in the row," according to the official letter sent to me. We were fourth in the league, with the TPL's second-most goals, we had lost only three of our first 10 games, and we were playing at a faster tempo than any other team in Thailand.

My reputation was intact with the vast majority of people within the game and fans alike. Most were wondering why I had been sacked. It certainly didn't make sense to me.

In these situations, you have to continue to believe in yourself, analyse your performances and be honest about your achievements. I concluded that I had done a good job in developing the team and individual players.

The two men I had brought in justified their contracts. Hassan had performed very well in goal, and Melvin was scoring.

I decided to stay in Thailand with a view to securing a head-coaching role at another TPL club. There was a five-week break in the season, and I felt an option or two might present itself.

When struggling Port FC approached me, I was delighted. The club has a great fan base and a traditional stadium close to the pitch -- with no running track, unlike so many of the atmosphere-free arenas in Thailand.

I knew some of the club's history within Thai football, along with the problems the team had faced since the end of the 2014.

The new owners were about to appoint me their third coach of the season, after only 10 games. They assured me the playing squad would be overhauled in the transfer window. I would be judged only on results in the second leg, when the additional players were able to join the team.

I certainly expected to secure more than just one win in my seven league games, which took us to the halfway point of the season. The points' tally simply didn't reflect the performances; 10 points would have been a more just outcome.

We created lots of chances, but nobody could score. If you don't tuck one away, you can bet a defensive mistake will see you concede. We lost 1-0 on five occasions.

When Port FC brought in a new team manager who was better known as a coach, I was suspicious. I've been in and around professional football clubs for more than 42 years, and my sixth sense wasn't required on this occasion.

I wasn't to be afforded the luxury of selecting from the 10 new signings the club made in preparation for the second leg of the season. I was advised, by a text message to my mobile phone, that a board meeting was to be held to discuss my future.

It was no surprise when I was subsequently advised, by the same method, that my services were no longer required.

It is important to make clear all the terms and conditions in both my contracts -- at Army United and Port FC -- were met. I believe I will be made to feel welcome whenever I visit either club in the future. I was happy I developed a great relationship with both sets of fans.

Unlike Army United, who refused to allow me to meet the players and staff to say goodbye, the owners of Port FC encouraged a final meeting. That allowed me to bring a sense of closure to a short yet intense coaching chapter.

A generation ago as a player, I spent about a dozen years at Brighton and Tottenham, my first two English clubs. Football has changed a lot since then. In Bangkok, it has been less than a dozen months for my first two Thai clubs.

Even so, my intention is to continue to live in Bangkok for the immediate future.

Despite everything I've gone through, I still feel my future is bright as I aim to secure myself another head-coaching position in Thailand or elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

The first 207 days of 2015 were certainly interesting. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year -- and beyond -- will bring.