The Local Game: Time for Polking’s second chance?

April 18, 2023 - 07:56
Retread coaches often get a bad name and sometimes it’s justified.
Mano Polking during a training session with the Thai national team. Photo:

Peter Cowan

Retread coaches often get a bad name and sometimes it’s justified.

Hiring Roy Hodgson or Dean Smith for the 800th time is unlikely to inspire much excitement among fans, but there’s one coach I’d love to see make a return to the V.League 1.

Alexandre “Mano” Polking, the current Thailand national team coach, has been linked with a return to Vietnamese football in recent days.

Such rumours have swirled around the German-Brazilian tactician ever since he left HCM City FC in September 2021, but this one seems to have more heft.

According to, Polking has even received a formal job offer from an unnamed V.League 1 club, which sounds like things have progressed beyond mere flirting to an actual proposal.

Polking had a torrid time at HCM City FC and suffered the lowest win percentage of his career at 33.33 per cent in the southern metropolis, but I think he deserves a second crack at Vietnamese football.

While Polking struggled to get a largely untalented City side playing the brand of football he’s known for, his Thai national side have played some scintillating stuff since he took over in 2021.

Beyond that, they’ve scooped up two AFF Championships, showing that playing aesthetically pleasing football doesn’t preclude a team from lifting silverware.

Even if Thailand had fallen short in those two finals though, I’d still be calling for Polking to return to Viet Nam.

So few coaches in the V.League dare to have their teams playing expansive football and sadly most rely on the physical talents of their foreign forwards to put the ball in the back of the net.

How refreshing would it be for Polking to return and be given the backing from a club to show his brand of football can work in Viet Nam?

Of course there are a few roadblocks to such a move.

Most obviously, it’s fair to wonder if Polking would even want to leave the Thailand job to return to the wacky world of Vietnamese club football. He may well have had his fill of that.

Additionally, the lack of quality playing surfaces in Viet Nam hampered Polking’s side last time around, and they haven’t exactly improved.

All that being said, it’s the fact that he failed last time around that has me convinced he could well make a return.

The 10 months or so Polking spent in HCM City were the least successful of his career and I have a sneaking suspicion he may want to return to right that wrong. VNS