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 By Paul Murphy

Ex-England defender Gary Stevens sees Thai coaching gig fall through

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Jason Dasey and PJ Roberts evaluate Australia's World Cup group and assess whether they or any other Asian teams can progress.
 

Former Tottenham Hotspur and England defender Gary Stevens' proposed move to Thai League (T1) club Ubon UMT United has fallen through after a failure to agree terms, with former Premier League striker Mixu Paatelainen taking over as head coach instead.

Ubon announced that they had appointed Stevens in December, following the departure of Scott Cooper from the club.

However, Stevens confirmed that the deal had never been finalised, paving the way for ex-Finland boss Paatelainen to come to Thailand.

"Unfortunately Ubon UMT and I were unable to agree a contract," Stevens told ESPN FC. "I have wished the President of Ubon UMT and the club a successful 2018, I hope they have a good season."

Stevens had previously managed T1 clubs Army United and Port FC in 2014 and 2015, but will be looking for another club following the collapse of this move.

Gary Stevens in Malaysia
Ex-England defender Gary Stevens is best known as a member of a successful Tottenham side from the 1980s.

Paatelainen, meanwhile, mostly recently managed Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership, but left the club after less than a year following their relegation in 2016.

While at United, the 50-year-old signed former Liverpool striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle on a short-term deal. The pair will be reunited in Thailand, with the Frenchman now playing for newly promoted Chainat FC.

Paatelainen spent four years as head coach of his home country Finland, having previously managed two other Scottish Premiership clubs in Kilmarnock and Hibs.

And in 2013, Paatelainen's Finland side travelled to Thailand for the annual King's Cup tournament. They defeated the hosts 3-1, with former Chelsea striker Mikel Forssell netting a double, before losing the final 3-0 to Sweden.

As a player, Pattalainen made his name with Dundee United and Aberdeen before moving to Bolton Wanderers.

New Ubon UMT coach Mixu Paatelainen played in the Premier League for Bolton Wanderers.

He spent three seasons at Bolton, including one year in the Premier League, before a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

After just one season at Wolves, he headed back to Scotland with Hibs where he had two spells, sandwiched by a short stint with RC Strasbourg in France.

He continued playing until the age or 38, finishing at Cowdenbeath in Scotland's fourth tier, the club at which he took his first steps in management.

Paatelainen will certainly hope to fare better in Thailand than his successor at Kilmarnock did in 2015. Kenny Shiels was sacked by BEC Tero Sasana after 11 games without a league victory.

Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK

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