Sunday, 30 August 2015

Cup o' coffee and the Swans (Sunday Catch-up - 30th August 2015)

It's Sunday morning again, and I'm up early for a change!

As it's a Bank Holiday weekend, why not make your coffee a little Irish? Then, when you've sobered up, have a read of my quick round-up of Swansea City news.


Into the Third Round!

A very different looking Swansea City saw out a comfortable 3-0 Capital One Cup win against York City on Tuesday night.

Garry Monk made a host of changes to his team, with players like Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Leon Britton and Franck Tabanou making starts against the League Two side.

And even though York had a few moments of their own, the Premier League Swans made light work of the Minstermen. Nathan Dyer opened the scoring in the second minute, with Matt Grimes and Marvin Emnes adding a second and third in the second half.

A straightforward day at the Liberty Stadium, and Swansea move into the Third Round where they'll face Hull City at the KC Stadium on Tuesday, 22 September.


Swansea City vs Manchester United

Let's get all the 'giants' out of the way now shall we?

I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that it's the perfect time to take on Man United. We're unbeaten in the first three games, we've already seen a good draw against Chelsea, confidence is high, and we're at home - so what's to fear?

Of course United are looking pretty good themselves, sitting in 4th place in the early Premier League table, with wins against Spurs and Villa. Plus their squad looks a little more coherent than last season, with plenty of danger men. Perhaps read a more detailed preview here.

It's a tricky scoreline tricky to call, so I will go for a very acceptable 1-1.


New home of Forza Swansea

While this blog is going nowhere, I can tell you that during the 2015/16 season I will be blogging for Forza Swansea in association with Yahoo Sport.

It just means the content will have an even bigger audience than before, hopefully spurring me to write more than I do now! I will publish more details next week.


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Cup o' coffee and the Swans (Sunday Catch-up - 23rd August 2015)

It's Sunday, I've woken up later than planned. Let's get a quick catch-up out while my filter coffee is being prepared by Jeeves.


Sunderland 1 - 1 Swansea City

We're already three games in to this new season and Swansea are yet to lose, earning a fair point against Sunderland yesterday.

Although this was the first match in which we as fans could be forgiven for getting a little frustrated. Swansea, after all their domination in the opening quarter, lacked that cutting edge in front of goal and could well have taken the win, through the likes of Ayew or Sigurdsson in the second half.

But Bafetimbi Gomis's enjoyable opener on the cusp of half time was enough to secure a precious point. A more in-depth look at the game and some photos here (don't click if you hate the Daily Mail, because that's where you are being sent today!)

But it can only be a positive, drawing away from home to stay sixth in the league with 5 points. Onto United at the Liberty next Sunday!


Britton stays put...

As the transfer window slowly closes, the moment we dreaded all summer is no longer imminent - Leon Britton is staying with Swansea!

The 32-year-old stalwart had toyed with leaving the club over the last few months, looking to go somewhere that could offer him more regular football - MLS in particular. However, after a chat with his pal and manager, Britton has decided to stay with the hope of playing more often.

In his own words:
"I've always said the first place I want to play is here at Swansea. Maybe things will change a bit and I can be involved a bit more, which would be great."
Whether or not we will actually see him on the pitch this season is now the question. But with the quality and depth already in that area of the field, that's not the prime reason Swans fans are so keen to see him stay.

We don't want to lose such a longstanding player, who offers club pride in bucket loads and is a boost to spirits both on and off the field.


...so does Montero (but not Michu)

Thankfully we are all on the same page - me, you, Garry Monk and Huw Jenkins: none of the Swans stars are for sale.

This comes after speculation over the immediate future of Jefferson Montero, who has been linked with Bayern Munich and most recently Man United, after Reds fans - including Rio Ferdinand - voiced their want over social media.

But as Monk said:
"No-one is for sale, we’re looking forward to the season, the players are looking forward to going forward with Swansea and this is the squad I want."

Meanwhile Michu - who we sometimes forget is still on Swansea's books - is now very likely to head off, maybe to Celtic as latest reports suggest. Let's face it, unless he completely returned to the form he displayed in his first season with the club (which seems nearly impossible) he will never get back into the current squad.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Triumphant Return of 'Cup o' coffee and the Swans' (Sunday Catch-up)


UPDATE: I'm really sorry, but for personal reasons I am unable to write a Cup o' Coffee and the Swans update this Sunday (16th August). I will return next week.


Let's make it a decaff coffee - we're all still catching our breath after yesterday's blistering match at Stamford Bridge.

More on the game in a bit, but for now I formally announce my return to Forza Swansea, after a summer of... well, no blogging action.

(*Pause for applause*)

Of course, I am genuinely sorry for the lack of content on this blog over the summer. It's a combination of me focusing on other projects, while being a little lazy at the same time.

But let's face it - there's enough Swans speculation, rumours and filler without me further cluttering up the internet. Yes, I could have covered the good-looking (not in that way) acquisitions of Andre Ayew, Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Franck Tabanou and Eder; the 'will he, won't he' surrounding Leon Britton; or the mild panic because Mark Lawrenson thinks we'll do well this season.

But, with so many other blogs, news sites and social media streams around, I decided to let others do the hard graft, while I sat back with a beer and watched the rain ruin everyone's summer.

However, for this new season, I'm back and will carry on with my Sunday morning catch-ups, and perhaps a few nostalgic articles here and there. On to the match...


Chelsea 2 - 2 Swansea City

What a great season opener for Swansea. Apart from a win, no-one could have asked for better.

It's standard now that the Swans produce something of note in the first game of the season, and they almost surpassed themselves yesterday.

The 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge gave us a chance to see the squad put together the things they were working on over the summer, in the most entertaining way possible.


Gomis was showing plenty of pride and fight

Ayew was exciting - his goal in particular was thanks to a touch of quick thinking and plenty of talent. He'll undoubtedly be a pleasure to watch this year. Gomis had a good game, which peaked in the 55th minute when he both won and scored the penalty, reducing Chelsea to ten men in the process. Overall he looked much sharper and stronger than last season, even if he dragged his heels with a few chances.

Montero was part of every good Swansea move going forward, while Shelvey was up for it all match, scaring Courtois with some nifty attempts direct from his corners! Ashley Williams and his defensive team were solid enough, with the two goals the only blemish on a good game. Overall Fabianski probably came off the worst yesterday, but still produced some fine saves.

I guess the only disappointment was that Swansea didn't go on to win the match. Still, away to the champions, an opening day draw works pretty well... we'll take it!


The Swansea City Miscellany

Finally, I've written another Swansea City book, which is being released at the start of September (i.e. next month). It's called the Swansea City Miscellany, and is a hardback encyclopedia packed with stats, facts, trivia history and stories about the Swans.

It is officially endorsed by the club and the legendary Huw Jenkins has written the foreword. I will make a more detailed announcement on this in the next few days. But for now, you know why my Swans content on the blog was perhaps lacking over the last year!


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

2015/16 Premier League fixtures: "Nice easy start..."

What's this? It's summer and there's a new ForzaSwansea post? You aren't dreaming.

With the release of the Premier League fixtures for the 2015/16 season this morning, I thought it best to write a short post (a very short post) highlighting some of the ties we'll see next year.

Garry Monk's men will be kicking off the season on 8 August against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. What a tough game to open a campaign with! But then again that will be arguably the hardest match out of the way instantly. Plus, like last seasons' opening day victory at Old Trafford, Swansea may just pull off a shock against the champions!

And the Swans won't have to wait too long until facing United at the Liberty Stadium, which also takes place in the first month, on 29 August.

Christmas is looking busy as usual, with a festive trip to the blue side of Manchester on 12 December and a home match against West Brom occupying the Boxing Day spot.

Without going into too much detail (you can do that yourself by checking out the full listings on the BBC website), it's looking like a pretty balanced season.

With relegation worries no longer an issue (touch wood), Premier League safety will be secured early in 2016 and there won't be any cause for concern in the last few weeks. Which is good news, because Swansea's final match is against Man City at the Liberty on 15 May - a great way to end what will hopefully be another record breaking season.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Tate and Britton - Ending An Era

The summer is the season of change when it comes to football.

And watching two players leave Swansea City after over a decade of uninterrupted service is certainly change in its rawest form.

First, Alan Tate. Last week we saw the departure of the Swansea stalwart, who left the club in a move that seemed to be in the pipeline for quite some time.

Disappointing as it was, it came as no shock - Tate never really made the step up to the Premier League, not helped by his broken leg in the first season, and had spent more time out on loan than at Swansea in the past four years. (For more on Alan Tate, check out my tribute to him from October 2014.)

Things were different back in 2011 (Image: Action Images)

The biggest shock of the week came from a brutally honest interview with Leon Britton, in which the talismanic midfielder admitted he too was considering a move elsewhere if Swansea couldn't offer him first team football next season.

Of course, the reason why this grates more on fans is because, unlike Tate, Britton not only made the giant step up to the Premier League, he excelled in it. Remember January 2012, when statistics suggested that he was the best passer in Europe? But you don't even need statistics to see that he was one of the key men for Swansea.

Yes, Britton truly owned the centre of the pitch and was rightly one of the first names on the team sheet for so long.

However the recent 2014/15 season was hugely frustrating for the stalwart, who was forced to watch his talented team mates - Ki Sung Yueng, Jack Cork and Jonjo Shelvey - consistently picked before him, even when he was fully fit.

A few months ago Swans fans had a feeling that something wasn't right. And they were correct. No matter how much he loves the club, you could sense that Britton had probably had enough.

But we have to applaud his decision if he does decide to go. In his own words:

'I am not someone who will be happy to play every couple of months or whatever and then pick up my money.' 

Many players would be content to fester away on the bench; enjoying a large payday come the end of the month for doing absolutely nothing.

The right kind of footballer, Britton wants to play on a regular basis and if that means ending nearly 13 years at the club he loves, then we have to accept that.



If he does go - possibly to another Premier League side, the Championship or even America - we can always hope he'll return to Swansea as a coach later down the line. The other option, which hasn't been discussed much (at least not in public) is to loan him out. That way he technically never has to leave!

But whatever happens, even if this is the end of his playing career with Swansea, I'm sure that we haven't seen the last of Leon Britton.


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Swansea City's 2014/15 season is over... What do we do now?!

What do we do now?

The 2014/15 Premier League season is finished, meaning there is no Swansea City action for a few months. And to rub salt into our footballing wounds, there are no summer competitions like the World Cup to give us our fix.

But in reality the football season never finishes. There's a fine line over when the post-season ends and the pre-season begins and - thankfully for football fans - both tend to overlap. (I love the below cartoon from the New York Times which captures the essence of the summer perfectly):


Although the next time the Swans kick a ball may seem ages away, the club will start their pre-season tour in July, which is essentially just a month from now.

Unfortunately, as reported on the club's website earlier this week, the original plan to play a mini tournament in Dallas, Texas has been cancelled. A great shame. Rest assured Swansea will definitely be arranging an alternative, but we're still waiting to hear what exactly.

For those of you yearning for a little live football action closer to home, there's always the SwansAid 'Sellebrity Soccer' match, which features a line-up of local and national celebrities such as Kevin Johns, Lee Trundle, Shane Williams and Dean Gaffney, along with an array of others (many of who are from soaps and shows I don't watch, like X Factor - I therefore don't know who they are. However, you probably do and can check out the full list here.)

The fun match will take place this Sunday, May 31st at the Liberty Stadium at 3pm. Proceeds go towards SwansAid - the club's charity, which helps local sport, health and educational projects and causes. Watch Lee Trundle and Kev Johns train for the match on the video below:




Finally, while I will temporarily stop the semi-regular Sunday morning catch-ups, I will bring some news of transfers, as well as a couple of nostalgia posts through the summer, although - as you know by now - for a great dose of Swans history you just have to check out Swansea City's Greatest Games!

Good luck keeping entertained in the post-/pre-season.

Chris

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Cup o' coffee and the Swans (Sunday Catch-up - 17th May 2015)

There are not many Sunday's remaining this season and as you read this Swansea are hours away from kicking off their penultimate game of their 2014/15 campaign against last season's Premier League champions (...unless you got up too late and have missed the match, in which case Swansea won 6-0!)

Either way, grab your cleanest cup, fill it with the strongest coffee and read about what's been happening this week at Swansea City.


Swansea City vs Manchester City

While there's one fixture left after this, today is the final home game of the season. And what a way to end, with the chance to cause the second big upset in a week against second place Manchester City.

I had a good feeling about the Arsenal game and was right - Swansea defended like hell and came away with a well earned three points, taking full advantage of the new goal line technology.

At home against the big spenders who are more clinical it may be a tougher ask, but a draw is surely not out of the question. My prediction for today is 1-1.

Guess who's back...

The biggest talking point will probably be if a) we see Wilfried Bony take the field, and b) if he scores. He's said in a recent interview that he wants to score against his old club - let's hope that doesn't happen (although I have put a few pound on Bony to score last... just in case he grabs the winner).


Goodbye Gerhard?

It looks like the popular, but certainly not Premier League-confident Gerhard Tremmel will be leaving the club in a few weeks as his contract runs out.

Thanks Gerhard.

There's little chance he'll stay as the Swans have apparently lined up the 25-year-old Swedish international Kristoffer Nordfeldt as a replacement.

Whatever happens we'll always remember the huge part Tremmel played in the Capital One Cup success of 2013 - undoubtedly his greatest period with the club.


Lawro eats his words

It seems Mark Lawrenson finally admits he was wrong about Swansea. This week he was reported as saying that the Swans had 'stuck a pie in his face' after constantly predicting failure for the club.

His predictions, like many pundits, were based around the departure of Wilfried Bony in January, with Lawrenson expecting Swansea to 'sink like a stone'. But, in his own words...

"[Swansea] have done the opposite and have gone higher than probably even they thought possible, with a top-six finish within their reach. That is very different to their position in the league table based on my predictions. By some distance they are the team who I have been the most wrong about, so I am sure their fans will be pleased rather than annoyed that I am going to tip them to lose again on Sunday"


Ten years since the Vetch

Last Monday (11th May) marked a decade since the Vetch closed its gates for the last time, following the FAW Premier Cup win against Wrexham in 2005. Just in case you didn't know.


Have a look at this Swans website for some great nostalgic photos of the Vetch!