Football League World
·26 September 2023
Football League World
·26 September 2023
John Eustace’s Birmingham City were left to lick their wounds over the summer when Tahiti Chong sought the St Andrews’ exit door.
After displaying promising signs on loan from Manchester United during the 2021/22 campaign, Chong’s tenure in the West Midlands was made a permanent one for £1.5m the following season and he really found his stride.
Weighing in with four goals and five assists from 38 appearances all the while playing in a number of different positions across the final third, the Dutchman emerged as star turn for Blues and as one of the more exciting young players in the second-tier of English football.
It wasn’t enough to guide them any higher than 14th, though, thus making them vulnerable to potential vultures in the transfer market despite Chong agreeing a four-year deal less than 12 months ago at the time.
That netted Blues a healthy £2.5m profit after just a year, and they haven’t been hindered all that much by his departure either.
As things stand, Eustace’s men sit 10th in the Championship table after eight matches, claiming three wins and three draws apiece while falling to defeat only twice.
Instead, though, we’ve decided to take a look at the player in question and see just how he’s started life at Kenilworth Road…
At the time of writing, Chong has turned out for his new employers on four occasions.
His debut was a real baptism of fire as he started from the very first whistle and lasted 88 minutes in their harrowing 4-1 opening day defeat away to Brighton and Hove Albion.
Chong subsequently started against Chelsea, West Ham United and Fulham, taking his Hatters appearance tally up to four.
He was rested during their 3-2 advancement over Gillingham in the EFL Cup, though, and was interestingly dropped as they claimed their first Premier League point in an encouraging 1-1 home draw to Wolves on Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately for Chong, it’s fair to say that he’s yet to pull up any trees in Hertfordshire.
But in all fairness, he's no different to the majority of his teammates, who’ve all encountered natural teething problems in making the step-up - and it was bound to be expected given how many of them have come from the Championship.
He hasn’t racked up any goals or assists just yet, though given he’s been deployed in a more unorthodox central midfield role by experimental manager Ron Edwards, that doesn’t appear his responsibility in the team.
That said, Chong did catch the eye in Luton’s 3-0 hammering at Chelsea and broke up play in the middle of the park by winning nine duels and making five recoveries, whereas he helped his under-the-cosh side to slow the game down through being fouled four times.
With his Stamford Bridge showing in mind, you may well feel that there’s more to come of Chong at Luton in due course.
This question is more difficult to answer as Chong typically tends to be a reserved figure in the online world; he doesn’t own an X account and posts on his official Instagram page are few and far between.
There’s not too much to work with, but the ex-Red Devils prospect did recently feature in a light-hearted football challenge video on Luton’s official YouTube channel.
Partaking in the ‘Boot Pong Challenge’, Chong paired up with Marvelous Nakamba against Ryan Giles and Jacob Brown as the Hatters players were put through their paces, with the objective to get as many footballs in the bins set out as possible in a set time after performing keep-ups.
Chong, a player very much renowned for his flair and trickery, ended up on the winning side, as the losers were made to discard their boots as part of an environmental cause from sponsors Utilita - and the video was even titled as "The Tahith Chong Show"!
During the video, supporters also saw a side to Chong that they may not have previously seen, with the midfielder coming off as a very vocal and humorous character.