Friday 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Looking back on the whole year, 2010 brought the Swans a mix of good and bad.

Let's rewind to January. The month we all made, then subsequently broke, our New Year resolutions (come on, I never was going to “give up beer”). Swansea were sitting 4th in the Coca-Cola Championship, despite losing the opening game of the year. Luckily that first one seemed to be a blip (there's that word again) and the Swans went on a nine game unbeaten run. Promotion, via the play-offs, seemed almost certain.

Then things took a stumble. Despite some fancy football, the goals weren't coming and, in turn, neither were the points. Swansea managed to win only three games out of twelve in March and April. This was around the time that Blackpool sensed they may be in with a chance and started to show their true colours (bright orange). I believe their 5-1 hammering of the Swans proved this. The safe position was slipping and only goals could save them! Alas, these goals never came.

Sousa was playing negative football and it began to grate on the fans, who all knew that the formation just wasn't working. Things came to a boil on the last game of the season where the Swans needed two things to happen. Blackpool to lose/draw and Swansea to win. It seemed Blackpool were only too keen to help, drawing 1-1 with Bristol, but Swansea were sitting on their own draw. That one goal they so badly needed never came, despite Sousa finally smarting up and chucking on all available strikers. Well, technically, a goal did come in the form of a last gasp Lee Trundle strike, but the ref rightly awarded handball and blew up for full time, ending the hopes of promotion. It was going to be a long summer of reflection.

It's easy to forget that I am talking about earlier this year! How things changed during the summer. Sousa didn't hang around long enough to reflect on anything, and Britton and Trundle soon left for different reasons. In came Scott Sinclair, Stephen Dobbie (back from newly-promoted Blackpool) and Brendan Rodgers. I won't reflect on the new season much more (check out my mid-season review for that summary).

So here we are at the end of 2010. In walks a fresh-faced 2011. Things to look forward to?

On the 6th February we will see Cardiff at the Liberty for “The South Wales Derby - Part II”. You don't need reminding that Swansea were the rightful victors in November's fixture, and neither do Cardiff - they will be ultra determined to get a win after being embarrassed on their own turf. Swansea will have their own crowd behind them though and, despite the recent dip in overall results, will be gagging to do the double over Cardiff. This must mean something though – if they end up doing the double over the Bluebirds but then fail to get promoted, I can guarantee you those two wins won't mean much.

Then on May 8th we'll have judgement day. The Swans will find out if:
a) they are automatically promoted to the Premier League (cue euphoria and “Closet Jacks” making a reappearance).

b) they join the other four teams in the play-offs, where (if they are able to get there) a Wembley final will see them one game away from the top tier (cue... well, see above)

c) they have missed out on the play-offs (cue good players leaving the club, mass suicide and sacking of Rodgers...)

Let's obviously hope it is point A. Automatic promotion would give the Swans confidence needed to take the first steps with the big boys! Plus they wouldn't have to play three play-off games. Anyway, I'm jumping ahead there...

So plenty to look forward to!

Let me take this opportunity to thank everybody who has read, commented and helped this blog develop over the last few months, it is much appreciated and I wish you all a great 2011 – the year where Swansea will (probably) get to the Premier League!

Happy New Year you Jack bastards!

Sunday 26 December 2010

Swansea City: no longer a blip!

This is the best part of the festive period – after the hectic build up and the big day itself, the week between Christmas and New Year is usually a relaxed affair, with a lot of good sport to occupy your mind, while the beer occupies your belly. Unfortunately, as we have come to expect from following Swansea, today was anything but relaxing!

Firstly, my condolences go to those who travelled to London to watch the 4-0 defeat to QPR – the return trip can’t have been that pleasant.

Annoyingly, in my own state of turkey and beer saturated bliss, I assumed the game kicked off at 3pm. On realising my mistake I quickly tuned in, joining the action to find Alan Tate had just been sent off and the Swans were 1-0 down. Not a good time, though it seems that QPR’s Clint Hill had also been shown red, so at least it was an eye for an eye. Swansea had the opportunity to go even again and maybe take the lead – if only they could put away some of their chances. However, as most who watch weekly will know, this isn’t easy for the Swans.

I guess we can no longer call this a blip? It’s the word that has been posted around recently, but a blip to me is when a team is soaring high, consistently winning by two or three goals, but then lose 3-0 to a poor team. The week after, however, they continue with their good form. That is a blip. It seems that the Swans are passed the ‘blip stage’ and, having only won one game in the last six, have moved into an extended period of unsettlement.

I’m not saying this is the end of promotion dreams because, as this is such an open league, it will only take a few good wins to see Swansea in the top two, but something still isn’t right. Maybe the midfield is the main problem here. Take Sinclair and Dyer out (they are currently the obvious best wing options) and it leaves three spaces for the likes of Pratley, Gower, Orlandi, Agustien and Allen. Which combination is the strongest? It’s hard to choose correctly. In my opinion, it seems the 4-5-1 option may no longer be the best. Or at least it may be wise to try and change it while there is still time in the season for errors. I wouldn’t mind seeing something like this for the next game in a 4-4-2 formation: De Vries; Rangel, Monk, Williams, Taylor; Dyer, Agustien, Allen, Sinclair; Dobbie, Beattie.

Either way, Rodgers needs to secure a permanent striker in the transfer window to allow options. Failing that a central attacking midfielder would also help.

Next game is very soon: Tuesday vs. Barnsley (this time it is at 3pm!), so there is little time for reflection – the management and players alike need to brush themselves off and get a vital home win. If they fail to do this, the risk of a downwards spiral becomes higher by the game.

What is the current strongest side that should be played? Which new formation would you like to see tried out? Or is this still just a 'blip'? Leave a comment below

Sunday 19 December 2010

Swansea City: Halfway(ish) to the Premier League!

Saturday's disappointing game vs. Sheffield United marked the 22nd league fixture of the season, which, now I think about it, isn’t actually the halfway mark... So why am I writing the half season report when it isn’t even half season? Because I’ve got nothing better to do.

To clarify, at time of posting, the Swans sit in 4th place in the nPower Championship with 37 points.

(Let’s categorise my report, as I quickly lose focus and end up talking about something completely different)

First few games
As the season began, with a 2-0 loss to Hull, everyone threw their Swans scarfs to the ground and burnt effigies of new manager Brendan Rodgers. However, when the second game produced a 3-0 victory, followed later that week by a 4-0 win over Preston, those effigies were quickly extinguished and apologies were made as things looked brighter. These high scoring / clean sheet matches were only dreams under Sousa last season. Attacking, goal scoring football; it was a joy to watch. The results stayed the same through the starting weeks, with Swansea clocking some great home wins and quickly moved up the table. However, away form was less impressive and it took five games to finally grab a point on the road. Generally, Swansea had the perfect start to a new season.

Cup Matches
The Swans edged their way through a host of uninspiring teams, until drawing Roberto Martinez’s Wigan in the fourth round. Despite an urge from fans to win this game against their old manager, a weakened Swansea side were punished by a 2-0 loss and quickly dumped out of the cup. Rodgers obviously wanted to concentrate on the league, but lost some respect in the process.

As for the FA cup, Swansea are yet to play their first game, which will be against Colchester (another anti-climactic draw) at home on 8th January.

New faces
Naturally the immediate focus in this section will be Scott Sinclair. Much like a hot lemony towel you get at the end of an Indian meal – very refreshing, though goes cold quite quick. He invigorated the side during the first few games, with high entertainment value and goals to match. However he has dipped into “the not really there” category recently, with other teams doing very well to quell his danger and his confidence has dwindled because of it. Overall though he has been a magnificent purchase overall and is still a key man in the fight for promotion.

Marvin Emnes was a fantastic loanee, scoring a great goal on his debut and another against Cardiff. Although he was summoned back to Middlesbrough, he will always be welcomed in Swansea for his part in the South Wales derby victory.

Jermaine Easter, despite outrage from some Swansea ultras, was signed on loan from MK Dons and, as of writing, has only made two appearances in which he looked poor, unable to get any quality time with the ball and not right for the team. I guess time will tell if signing him was the right choice.

The other new face worth mentioning is Kemy Agustien, who, despite looking solid and strong in midfield, hasn’t made as much ground as he would have liked and has ended up as a substitute for the last few games. Would like to see more of him in the second half of this season.

Elsewhere, Frank Nouble came and then went back to West Ham with no impact.

Team Review

Yves Ma-Kalambay joined the Swans pre-season, but will remain a bench warmer while De Vries keeps on performing. Dorus is a key player and has shown, especially in the last few games, why he is the man with the gloves. Injury will be the only thing to challenge his starting spot.
Key Player: De Vries

Swansea are usually prided on their strong defensive line, although there have been a few memorable blips in the past months. If one of the back four are playing bad it seems to reflect on them all. Monk has proved he is a solid captain, though was slightly off form during the middle of the first half of the season. Williams is strong and makes great runs forward, but some lack of concentration from him has gifted the opposition goals. Tate has played a more attacking role this season, but he is under fire for lacking imagination and flair. Elsewhere, Rangel has provided two great goals and Taylor is young but pushing for a starting place, which can only be a good thing.
Key Player: Monk

Generally the midfield are performing as required (if slightly lacking in creation recently). Though a few things to mention:

Nathan Dyer has been a standout player, creating half of Swansea’s chances. He’s fast and awkward to mark, which leads to many crossing opportunities. The only problem with Dyer is his inability to shoot; he sometimes seems afraid to take a shot on goal and will look for the, sometimes wrong, passing option. If he could get more shots on target he would be on the radar for some big name clubs.

Darren Pratley has been severely disappointing. Last season’s hero has scored goals, but he seems to have lost any good form, spending most of his time on the floor or giving away possession. His refusal to re-sign his contract also proved a bad decision with many supporters, peeved at the arrogance.
Key Player: Dyer

The major problem has been finding a striker. With Pintado still injured and Kuqi out on loan to Derby, Swansea were only left with the injury prone Beattie and Dobbie, who have both managed to score, though maybe not as many as they would have liked. Kuqi has returned now, but, despite a great attitude, does not have the speed or technical ability to consistently score.

The January transfer window needs to see a permanent, goal scoring, in-form striker come to the club (we don’t ask for much do we). This will allow competition for the striker spot, as well as options if Rodgers wanted to change formation.
Key Player: Beattie

Final opinion
Things have definitely taken a turn for the worse over the last few weeks, there is no denying. The team have come away with only one win in five games. Maybe pressure has caused this? The pressure is immense. This is the season that the Swans have to get promoted, otherwise they risk many players leaving to have a stab at the Premier League with another club. They only missed out on the playoffs by one point last time, and missing out again this season would create a great depression among players and fans alike. The fans expect promotion, the Swans have to deliver.

All it takes is a few bad games and the Swans will find themselves sitting in the mid-table, depressed and out of ideas. Fear not though: a run of good games (and, more importantly, wins) over Christmas and there is actually no reason why they can’t actually win the Championship come the end of the season!

Let’s do it!

Saturday 11 December 2010

To boo, or not to boo?

Ah the age-old question (not really) that I will look to answer after outlining what went so wrong in last night’s game, vs. Millwall. I find it’s always easier to give my thoughts on a match when it has been a complete shambles and luckily, for blogging sake, last night was just that!

The game saw Swansea slowly fall apart after another fantastic opening goal courtesy of defender Angel Rangel. Soon after the goal though the Swans began to look like a lower league side and seemed unable to cope with being ahead so early on. Nearing the half hour mark a terrible defensive blip led to the Millwall goal. Panicky clearances and a chaotic few seconds in their own box, where many Swans were unable to hack the ball away from the goal mouth, allowed Mkandawire to slam home the equaliser.

The general defending by the whole team was poor in my opinion, with Williams and Tate looking shaky at times and the whole team casually giving the ball away. It seemed hard to get the basics right. Most players appeared to already be figuring out how they’d create a goal scoring opportunity before they actually had the ball. Millwall intercepted endless loose passes, and throw-ins weren’t getting to intended targets.

Going forward and Scott Sinclair, despite a few flourishes and a great off-target shot, was kept quiet and seemed to lack the confidence he needed to make many surging runs. On the other wing, Nathan Dyer showed why he hasn’t yet been signed by a Premiership club – absolutely fantastic pace and mesmerising runs, but the total lack of shooting ability stops him being the all round player that we need. I recall him waltzing past three defenders into a perfect shooting opportunity, but instead of having a go himself he looked for someone (eventually no one) to pass to and the opportunity petered out. If he learns to shoot consistently on target, he could single handedly get us into the Premier League! Elsewhere in attack Beattie was nonexistent.

After halftime, the introduction of controversial signing Jermaine Easter was no help to the Swans attack, barely touching the ball and I don’t recall him shooting once. Darren Pratley was the second sub, though his stint on the bench didn’t help kick his form into gear and once again showed a lethargic display. When Dobbie came on he was as nonexistent as Beattie.

So then, after that, any positives? Well the draw, which Swansea probably didn’t actually deserve in the end, is a point and a good point to walk away with. The Swans are currently sitting third (there is no such thing as joint second) just below Cardiff, which is still a fantastic position to be in. Other positives? De Vries showed how solid he can be at times and stopped a hammering, rightfully claiming the Man of the Match award. Brendan Rodgers also showed he has the intelligence to throw on attacking players when things are getting static.

So back the question: to boo or not to boo?

If you are a diehard fan of a team, no matter how much they hurt and disgust you at times, no matter how much you pay for a ticket, you shouldn’t boo them. It’s like booing yourself. How many times have you argued with rival supporters, trying to get across that YOUR team is the best? What would they think if they saw you on national television booing your own players? How they’d laugh.

On a national scale, I support Italy and would defend them with my life. However, during the 2010 World Cup they shamefully bowed out of the tournament after two lacklustre draws and a loss. I shouted, I threw things at the TV, I held back a tear, but, had I been in South Africa, I wouldn’t have booed them. They are basically an extension of me, and that is what the Swans should be to those fans who booed last night (fair enough, the few at the front who gave the team a standing ovation could probably have held back so much praise). At the end of the day, Swansea City are in the best position they’ve been in nearly 30 years, and that’s nothing to boo about!

So next home game is a festive 28th December fixture against Barnsley. I’ll be summing up Swansea’s mid season performance in a blog soon, so stay tuned for that!

Wednesday 1 December 2010

How to make a Swans fan!

This Saturday the Swans will be in Ipswich, playing Ipswich and I will be in London, drinking beer.

As I will not be in Swansea, I had already resigned to the fact that I would have to check the Swans score on my phone, as listening to Swansea Sound or BBC Wales is out of the question unless you are in Wales (even digitally it isn’t allowed for some reason...). However, imagine my delight when I found out that this game will be shown live on Sky Sports! I can find a nice pub with a large TV screen and watch the game from start to finish! Perfect. Or is it...

Currently I face another problem. The reason I am in London is to visit a friend. Unfortunately, this friend openly frowns upon football. He actually hates it. So how do I convince him to watch it with me? The last football match I persuaded him to watch was during the World Cup - England vs Algeria. Okay I knew it wouldn’t be as good as a match like, say, Spain vs. Brazil, but there were bound to be either lots of goals from England, or a big exciting upset from Algeria! Unfortunately, however, as we took our seats in front of the pub TV, we were treated to the most boring game known to man. Nil-nil. He smiled smugly. He knew he was right. I knew he was right. Football was shit.

So how do I now convince him to watch the Swans? This isn’t the World Cup! This is just a Championship match! I think he may have even heard me moan last season about how boring some of the matches were (take your pick from any of the Swans’ nil-nil’s under Sousa). This is where the idea of collating an entertainment value from real football fans came to me.

I would set last year’s Swansea City Entertainment Value at about a 4.5. The aforementioned nil-nil hair pullers contribute to this low score (it would have been a 4 actually, but Shefki Kuqi’s open-goal miss (vs. Barnsley) adds a ‘.5’ to the season as it really was entertaining (if excruciatingly painful to all Swans fans watching)! This year, however, I would personally set the entertainment value at a 7.5. It seems that many fans agree with me (thanks to all the Tweeters who helped collate this data)! Scott Sinclair’s first few games added a good 2 points, but the overall performance of the team has been superb for the majority of the season (alright, there have been a few woeful moments, but generally very entertaining).

So this Saturday I will be watching the Ipswich game in a London pub. I will run through this entertainment data with my friend (he likes data) and will convince him that many Swans fans cannot be wrong! He will enjoy and he will be singing and he will be cheering. So, please, Mr Rodgers; don’t give him any ammo to hate football with (England sorted that out). Keep making them play as they have been playing, and give us some goals. Who knows you may end up with a new recruit to the Jack Army (it is a big ask)!

I will post a blog after the match with a roundup of what happened and maybe my football-hating mate can give us his own Swansea City Entertainment Value rating!

To entertain you all until then though, I present you with Shefki Kuqi’s entertaining (yet painfully annoying) goal miss from last season. Don’t close your eyes!

Saturday 27 November 2010

From hot to cold: What have I missed?

This time last week I was sipping an ice-cold beer by the pool under the American sun. Now though, as I place my laptop in front of the fan heater and sip a steaming coffee, I forget about my holiday and concentrate on the Swans. It’s been a while since the last blog, so let’s make up for it!

Before I give my thoughts on last night’s shocker against Portsmouth I ask myself: What did I miss while I was away? Well, technically, I didn’t actually miss anything. As this is the age of WIFI, iPhones and Twitter, most of the Swans news was easily accessible but, for arguments sake, what would I have missed if none of these were to hand?

Swans vs. Doncaster
It was nice to read that Swansea had some luck through Rangel’s last gasp goal and came away with a much needed point. It’s usually the other way around (well, certainly last season) where Swansea would score the goal and some odd referee would decide to play an unnecessary 5 minutes injury time where the opposition would then score and three points became 1. So, well done Rangel and thank you to the 93rd minute; a minute who rarely delivers.

Pratley refuses to sign a new contract
With Pratley’s current contract expiring in the summer, Rodgers has basically issued the sensible ultimatum: re-sign or be sold. While some fans may not want to see the likes of Pratley, Rangel or De Vries leaving Swansea, it’s better for them to go for a good price than for free. I’d hate to see De Vries go, and the same goes for Rangel – both performing well – though Darren Pratley seems to be annoying fans at the moment. He isn’t the rock that he was last season and has crumbed slightly, maybe in the shadow of great performances by Gower and Sinclair. Time for him to go? If he finds his form again, it will be worth keeping him as he is a great player. If he stays as uninspiring as he currently is, Swansea would be better off without him.

Rodgers signs Easter on a month loan
With rumours of Swansea looking to sign, amongst others, Daniel Sturridge and Carlos Vela, fans rejoiced! “We can win the championship, get promoted and win the Premier League if we start signing players like these!” Then came the announcement that Jermaine Easter had been signed on loan...

A known Cardiff fan coming from League One MK Dons (and currently a little bit injured) seems a bit of a non-starter in attempts to add depth to the strike force. I hope I’m wrong, because Brendan Rodgers has proved me very wrong in the past, but it’s like being promised a PS3 for Christmas, only to unwrap a second-hand GameCube. Cue bursting into tears, kicking the cat, and then drinking the rest of the day away (I love Christmas...)

So onto last night’s game. I didn’t brave the trip to the Liberty, mainly due to travelling home all day, so decided to listen on the radio from the warmth of my house. From the first minute it appeared that I had made a mistake – the Swans were going to hammer Portsmouth 5-0 and I was going to miss it! Suddenly (well around the time Portsmouth had their first goal disallowed), the momentum changed and Swansea began to slowly fall apart. Not even a Brendan Rodgers triple substitution helped as Pompey got behind the ball and shut out the game. All credit to the boys in black (unnecessary third kit), they deserved their three points.

So what happened to Swansea? Did they buckle under the pressure of the largest crowd (17,000+) this season? The underlying strain of being in the top three? The expectation of always having to win at home? Or maybe it was just an off day? If it was pressure that got to them, they’ll need to learn to cope as the Premier League will create more pressure than they’ve ever known. If it was an off day, fair enough – everyone’s allowed an off day. But one a season is more than enough. The way things have been going, off days may be more of a regular occurrence.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Instant Blog! Swansea 0 - 1 Bristol City

A blip is a good way to describe what happened in tonight’s game. On an icy cold night in the Liberty Stadium (a night that I really should have worn a hat), Swansea began the game as usual. But just 6 minutes in, Bristol snuck a goal and things went downhill from there.

A usually solid defence seemed less so than usual, with Tate letting defenders get by him too easily, and Monk and Williams arguing over various defensive positions. At one point in the second half Campbell-Ryce (Bristol) ended up with the ball deep in the Swans half. Williams and Monk both pointed at the attacker but neither moved, until the 14,000 Swans fans in unison screamed “someone get him!”, leaving Rangel to eventually clean up the mess. A poor night for usually the best defence in the league.

Defensive issues aside, the midfield was no better. Pratley was rightly subbed at halftime – perhaps missing the Cardiff game made him rusty as opposed to rested, because he looked unsettled and unable to get his first touch right or to keep possession. Agustien looked strong initially, but towards the end of his game was tackled much to easily and sent numerous long balls up field with no accuracy, resulting in, again, a loss of possession. The appearance of Gower and Allen certainly sparked the Swansea attacking game, but still made no real dent in the Bristol defence.

So, to the attack. Sinclair was decent, with a couple of good runs creating a few of Swansea’s chances. Emnes didn’t show his quality and took too many bad touches, a poor final game (...for now?) in a Swansea shirt. Dyer, however, was fantastic, showing unequalled pace and great control. Had all the team played like Dyer we would have won, no doubt. Annoyingly, before the game, I bumped into Nathan Dyer in the car park, where I asked him if the Swans would win. He said yes. Now, I feel like my question jinxed it. Sorry everyone – my bad!

Positives? Nathan Dyer, but otherwise not that much tonight. But worry not – it is only a blip. Luckily with Cardiff only picking up a point tonight, Swansea’s position in the table has not changed (still 3rd, above Derby and below Cardiff). However, it could have been so much better as a win would have taken us within a point of the Bluebirds.

Roll on Sunday, where every player will be looking to redeem themselves against Middlesbrough! Right, I’m off to eat a Cherry Bakewell and defrost in front of my fan heater!

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Savage, Swansea and Sundays!

I’m not going to give a match report for the Swans’ victory over Cardiff on Sunday because:

1) It would be a really late report after two days,
2) 99.9% of you reading this will have watched the match either in the stadium or on the BBC, so you know exactly what happened.

While I mention the BBC, can I ask why they felt the need to let Robbie Savage commentate? He sounded like he’d won some sort of competition to ‘have a go at commentating’! Chipping in with Cardiff bias comments and, at times, unnecessary points of view didn’t make the experience any more enjoyable. I’d have preferred silence. As a football commentator myself (I commentate for Swans matches for a hospital radio station), I know it’s not always that easy to come up with something insightful. However, I also know that if I have nothing worth saying, it’s best to just shut up. On Sunday I can safely say I would have done a better job!

The match itself, as usual, didn’t fully live up to the hype, mainly because Swansea were the only team actually playing! For a top of the league club, Cardiff looked very mediocre and only half-up for the match. Michael Chopra, usually a decent player, looked amateur and dirty after the series of leg-breaking tackles he committed. Swansea on the other hand did everything as they have been doing over the past few months, which was playing good football. They kept possession and, despite Dave Jones’ opinions, used it to create chances and eventually score the goal that sealed the derby victory. Alan Tate, Nathan Dyer, Ashley Williams and Joe Allen all put in solid performances with the rest of the Swans all above par. Swansea talked up the importance of the derby before hand and put in a performance to match.

It’ll be a shame to see Emnes go back after his wonder goal. He has one more game for the Swans, and then he leaves. I’m not too sure of the terms of his loan, but I wouldn’t want him playing against us on Sunday when Middlesbrough travel to the Liberty! Hopefully (at the risk of sounding selfish) things won’t work out for him up North and he’ll rejoin us during one of the next few transfer windows!

My final note is regarding the bout of Sunday games. Firstly, there are no Saturday home games until January, which is crazy! Just because Wales are playing a series of test matches (come on, just call them ‘friendlies’...) on Saturdays in November, the usual football schedule is thrown into disarray. I know many people like rugby, and I know many Swans fans will want to watch the rugby as well as the footy, but why does the rugby have to take priority? Football is played week-in week-out and should have first say. People of Wales should be wanting to see the Swans charge towards the Premier League! If any WRU members are reading – move the rugby to Sunday! Saturday is for FOOTBALL!

So, onto the Bristol City and Middlesbrough games on Wednesday and Sunday (arrgh) respectively where six points will be up for grabs and probably in the bag for the high flying Swans!

Monday 1 November 2010

The South Wales Derby!

In the match against Crystal Palace, where Swansea didn't sparkle, yet still managed to walk away with the best away win in almost three years, I feel reassured. What will happen in a game when they don’t just sparkle, but fully explode?

Well, a great time for this explosion would be on Sunday – Swansea vs. Cardiff. The derby. Up there with the worlds’ most famous sporting rivalries: Wales vs. England, Italy vs. Brazil, Liverpool vs. Everton and Shenzhen Xiangxue Eisiti vs. Guangzhou Pharmaceutical F.C. (yes, that’s an actual derby, though maybe not as celebrated as the others).

The South Wales Derby promises to be a fine spectacle as usual. With many Jacks travelling to Cardiff, the atmosphere should be electric and will create one hell of an arena for the players to battle on. Firstly, let’s hope for a trouble free day (the bubble should sort out most of it, we hope). Now, down to the match itself.

It’s worth mentioning the obvious exclusion of Darren Pratley and Jay Bothroyd for Swansea and Cardiff respectively. The question has already been asked: should Pratley have been subbed before he got the yellow card during the Palace match? Why didn’t Rodgers take him off? I believe, in these circumstances, the onus is on the player to avoid putting themselves in the position where they will be penalised. Pratley knew he was on a warning, and with less than ten minutes to go, should have kept off the ref’s radar. The booking is in the past now, but the Cardiff game is yet to come, so who will fill in?

Thankfully Kemy Agustien is back training, so he will slot nicely into the Pratley-shaped hole (this may well be a long term solution after more speculation today over Newcastle and Wigan after Pratley, but that’s another story). Agustien combined will Allen and Orlandi, should keep the midfield ticking over nicely. Cardiff will be suffering just as much, if not more, with the loss of their goal machine, Jay Bothroyd after a similar one-match suspension, where he received a yellow card against Norwich on Saturday.

Upfront, Swansea have more fire power than last year – Sinclair the obvious target man, but we will have Emnes ready for action (still a Swan until he’s back in Middlesbrough), who we know is goal capable. With Dobbie and Beattie also available, as well as Dyer on his wing, Swansea have many attacking options so goals shouldn’t be a problem (please don’t quote me on this though!).

Despite losing Bothroyd, Michael Chopra is back in the Cardiff squad. Chopra is very dangerous when on form, so Ashley Williams and co. will still have a lot to deal with, but it’s nothing they haven’t dealt with efficiently before. I haven’t mentioned Bellamy yet, who will provide a massive challenge to the Swans back four too. However, he is just another test that the Swans defence will relish, especially as its all practice for the Premier League next year.

So, some early predictions? If Swansea play like they have in the past weeks, I feel a sneaky 2-1 win could well be on the cards. However, Cardiff are top of the table, performing very well and also have the home advantage, which makes me think a draw is more likely. I’m going to go for 1-1, which, despite the passion to win the derby match, is a result I think most Swans fans would take.

My money may be on the draw, but its money I’d rather lose to see Swansea claim the bragging rights!

Thursday 28 October 2010

Don't be a Closet Jack!

Since my blog traffic stats had to be deleted and reinstalled, I felt the only way to get my traffic tracker whirring again was to announce a new blog post! So here it is!

A few things have happened since I last posted. Frank Nouble has returned to West Ham after a not very memorable performance with the Swans, Gorka Pintado is back playing for the reserves (is he really going to feature again in the first team?) and the Swans ended their Carling Cup campaign, after being beaten by Martinez’s Wigan, 2-0 on Tuesday night in front of a massive truckload of travelling supporters. And it’s these travelling supporters I want to talk about.

These men (women and children) who braved the endless motorway journey to Wigan, just to see a second string side, returned home very disappointed. I can safely say that half of the 4000+ Swans fans wouldn’t have travelled so far if they knew such a weak team was going to be played. But do these long, away game trips show you are a good supporter?

Not really, no. You are not obliged to make that kind of trip. You don’t even have to buy a season ticket. I think that by making the effort to go and watch Swansea at home a good few times a year, checking the scores and reports online when you can’t get to the game and generally keeping up to date with the club is the way to show you are a true fan. So by travelling to these away games it just shows that you are not a good, but a great supporter.

I say all this because the Cardiff game is just around the corner and, with it, the true “fans” begin to show themselves again. The ‘Closet Jacks’ as I call them. “Fans” that don’t know Dyer from De Vries, but will watch the Cardiff game in the safety of the pub just to shout derogatory slurs at our neighbours. These “fans” who are unaware that Trundle has left the club are the people who will buy bulk tickets to the Cardiff home game, just to chant ‘scum, scum’ and so on, leaving no tickets for those who watch the Swans most weeks but can’t afford a season ticket!

When (and it will happen) Swansea achieve promotion and play their football in the Premier League, these Closet Jacks will show up more and more, but not because they are becoming bigger fans of Swansea, but rather just to see Man Utd down here. To watch the Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool games. This, of course, will only be to see Rooney, Gerrard and Drogba in Swansea. They won’t be there for the game against West Brom, Wolves or other smaller Premier sides. Why bother go to the game unless you can see a star? These people irritate me. I have a friend who is a Closet Jack. In fact, the only time I will receive contact from him is to watch the Cardiff game on TV in the pub. I don’t think he’s been to the Liberty. I don’t think he knows half of the players, what points Swansea are on and the last handful of results.

While annoying, these aren’t necessarily bad people. However, when you only watch two games a year on TV (both vs. Cardiff), you are not a true supporter. Being a Swans fan shouldn’t be about hating Cardiff. It should be about loving Swansea! It may be great to see Swansea win against Cardiff, but don’t be the loudest one, shouting ‘you scum bastards’ then forgetting about the Swans until the next Cardiff game. It’s much like the Six Nations (rugby) tournament. Every rugby “fan” in Wales will pull on a battered old Welsh rugby jersey and scream “Wales, Wales, Wales”, “as long as we beat the English” and such, which is all very well, but rugby is played throughout the year, not just at the Six Nations and not just against the English. Where are these Closet fans when Wales play Canada in a Friendly on a rainy Cardiff night?

I’m only a relatively new Swans fan (within the last three years – read my bio and you’ll understand), so I am in the position to salute all you who are there week in, week out. Well done to those of you who travelled up to Wigan, and those of you who travel to occasional away games, and those of you who have a season ticket, and those of you who go to most Swansea home games and check the scores online if you can’t – you are true Swans fans, and put Closet Jacks (like my friend) to shame.

Long blog over!

Thursday 21 October 2010

Penalties, handbags and Sven

Will someone please show this video to David Cotterill?

Third time lucky? Only joking, but I think your next penalty needs to find the back of the net or it may be time to pass the duty to someone else.

Penalties aside, Tuesday evening might have been a cold one in the stands, but on the pitch the heat was high, with 7 yellow cards and quite a few ‘handbag’ moments throughout. It made for fine watching if you were a neutral. However, as a Swans fan it might have been a different story with QPR really dominating in the first half, until the Swans got back on track after the break. Although we were unlucky not to score the penalty, we were very lucky not to concede a few in the first half. In the end both teams walked away with a point, which, against a top of the table side, is a good point to have.

Onto Saturday, where Swansea entertain Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Leicester. I think every Swans fan was hoping that Sousa would still be with the Foxes on Saturday so we could have shown him what he walked away from, but it was not to be. So, instead of embarrassing Paulo Sousa, Swansea will have to put in a decent performance for a Leicester side with more hunger for points (they’re on a role, unbeaten for the last three games – a nice change)!

Onto some things that must happen on Saturday:

1) Swansea need to score
Okay, it’s not vital, but the last two games at the Liberty have seen 0 – 0 draws. Combining these with the 1 – 0 victory at Reading sees Swansea scoring only one goal for the last three games. I know we were spoilt for goals at the start of the season, but give us one (or two, or three) to cheer at on Saturday!

2) Garry Monk must sharpen up
The last two home games have been his worst for a while. Giving possession away to the opposition thanks to sluggish movement and generally looking out of puff. He will need to show he still has what it takes to make the Swans back four, as there are others pressing for his position.

3) Nouble has to do something (I’d rather Kuqi back at the moment)
If Nouble wants to go back to London with everyone talking about him like he so wishes, he needs to make sure he gives them something to talk about. Static movement and slow vision won’t get anyone chatting.

So, The Liberty welcomes Sven’s men for a nice Saturday kick about, before travelling to Wigan for the long-awaited Carling Cup clash on Tuesday. Forza Swansea!

Monday 18 October 2010

Marvellous Marvin?

With news surfacing that Brendan Rodgers has made another signing for Swansea City in the last couple of hours, a few Swans fans tilt their heads and ask “why another winger?” Well, being short on blogging material thanks to the international break, I have looked into Marvin Emnes and here’s what’s emerged:

22 years old
Born in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Made 3 appearances for Netherlands under-21 side

That’s the essentials out of the way. Down to the other facts.

He doesn’t seem immensely goal capable for a winger (this may be an unfair remark as I am probably subconsciously comparing him with Scott Sinclair); only scoring 9 goals in 56 appearances for Sparta Rotterdam and only 1 goal in the 31 appearances for Middlesbrough (guess who he scored that against? That’s right; Swansea City), but Rodgers has made it clear his why he has signed the Dutchman (thanks to this article for the following quote):

“We've got a few young players in the squad who are not going to last every minute of every game'

'And I just feel we lack pace on both wings when Scott (Sinclair) or Nathan (Dyer) aren't playing. Marvin has a lot of pace and can go people in one on one situations.”

Fair enough. From a couple of clips that I’ve seen of him, I would agree he is speedy. And from the below clip that I’ve fished from the dregs of YouTube, you can see him scoring a magnificent solo(ish) goal for Sparta Rotterdam!

Some of the Swans fans now un-tilt their heads and say “ah right, I understand”, but a few may still be confused as to why it’s only a month loan period. Rumour has it that Emnes was a signing that Rodgers wanted to make before the start of the season, but for one reason or another it never happened. This is good news as we now see it isn’t just an impulse buy like that overpriced lip balm I bought from Boots the other day. This is just the first opportunity Rodgers has properly had.

But surely a month isn’t long enough? Well, if we’re going by calendar months it should be: we have a whopping 8 games in the next 33 days or so, which, providing he plays at least 6 of them, should be enough exposure for the fans and Brendan Rodgers to make the decision. Pursuading Middlesbrough to let him go permenantly shouldn’t be too difficult – he’s only made 31 appearances for them since 2008.

But Emnes? I hadn’t heard of him before today. Is he really worth having?

Well, I’d never heard of Scott Sinclair until he joined the Swans, and that worked out pretty well! Will this be another Rodgers miracle signing? Hopefully we’ll find out tomorrow.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Internationals over, let's have some Swansea!

Doesn’t it seem like aaagggeeesss since the Derby match? Despite the obvious advantages of the International break (outlined in last week’s blog), I eagerly await the action from the Premier League, Serie A and, for Swans fans everywhere, Championship action kicking-off again this Saturday!

The Swans will be away to Reading this week, the place where Brendan Rodgers did a Paulo Sousa (i.e. winning only 1 in 11 matches before mutually leaving... okay, so not exactly a Sousa then). Rodgers will be keen to get a good away result for this fixture, not only for the satisfaction of the “I-told-you-it-wasn’t-my-fault-we-didn’t-win-many-but-you-wouldn’t-listen” moment to the Reading board at the end of the match, but also as Swansea need to build on their away success of the Watford game (another Rodgers hunting ground)

A win would be a great prize to both teams, with the victor (providing Burnley lose or draw against Sheffield Utd) launching into the top 6; a place that was home to the Swans for most of last season. Though both teams are on the same points (16), Reading are a place above them thanks to goal difference. With Sinclair and Pratley hopefully back from injury, there’s no reason why the Swans can’t grab at least one point away from home. The stigma of no away result has vanished, so the only thing players can blame for not getting any points is themselves. So here's to hoping nobody gets blamed because Swansea win!

After Reading, we entertain QPR at the Liberty on Tuesday, before (finally) a Saturday home game against Leicester on the 23rd. Interesting fact alert: From now until Christmas, there are only three Saturday home games - Leicester, Portsmouth and Millwall. Interesting fact over.

If you read last week’s blog, I found a new team with an obscurely great name in the Highland League. With no international breaks up there, my new favourite team 'Keith’, won 3 – 2 against Formartine Utd last Saturday. Well done Keith. Well done.


Monday 4 October 2010

Derby, Sousa and Internationals

Saturday, v Derby
Saturday was the first time this season that the Swans let anyone walk (or drive) away from the Liberty with a point. 0-0 against Derby and, in all fairness, not a bad game (unlike last year where the 0-0’s were tedious). Swansea were clearly missing Sinclair (as well as Pratley and Cotterill); despite what Monk says in this article, it does seem to be all about one person at the moment.

Actually, with regards to that article, Monk states “I thought we defended pretty well, to be fair”... Personally I think Monk had his worst game all season, with every ball he touched going out of play, and some very lazy passing and movement giving Derby ample opportunities on goal. Luckily the work rate of Williams, Rangel and Tate made up for Monk’s off-day, so the defending was ‘average’ in my view. Then again they didn’t concede a goal. Okay Monk, have it your way – “pretty well” it is...

Paulo Sousa has been swiftly removed from Leicester, a removal that was expected by all. Maybe not so soon. Is nine games really enough time to judge a man? I suppose it probably is, considering what he did for them while he was there (nothing). I didn’t really have anything against the guy during his time at Swansea. He took the Swans to their highest league place in 27ish (is that right?) years, which is good going. He seemed to lose his touch at the end, so him buggering off was a blessing in disguise. We wouldn’t have had Rodgers, or Sinclair, if he’d stayed, or entertaining football for that matter. Or goals. Or... I could go on. I can’t really see him getting another job in the Championship or higher, and he probably thinks he is above the lower leagues, so I reckon he will head out of Britain. Good luck Sousa, you old fox!

No Championship or Premiership action this weekend. I know a few fans are annoyed about the international breaks, but ultimately they have to happen! Wouldn’t you feel empty come 2012 if there was no European Cup! You can’t wait four years for the World Cup without a Euro in between! Just think – that’s a month of extra football at the end of the 2011/2012 season. Losing a couple of weekends at the Liberty throughout the season is an investment towards more footy in June 2012! Imagine the look on your girlfriend’s / wife’s / mate-who-hates-sport’s face when you tell them that the season is over but there's still three weeks of football left to play! I love that look. If you need some live football this Saturday though, the Scot-Ads Highland Football League fixture of ‘Formartine United v Keith’ kicks off at 3pm Saturday!

I never knew there was a team called Keith. That is fantastic.

More odd thoughts on the Swans (and maybe ‘Keith’) in a few days!

Friday 1 October 2010

The Swans and FIFA 11

FIFA. A man’s best mate on a long winter night, short winter night, long winter day, short summer evening, long… you get the picture. Perfect game for every occasion. The sworn enemy to wives and girlfriends worldwide. Love it or hate it, FIFA 11 was finally released today! If you are slightly mental / up at that time, you could’ve headed into town to pick up your copy at midnight. Me? I’m a definite enthusiast, but too lazy for a midnight shop. Instead I headed out first thing this morning, grabbed it and went home to fire up the PS3. After playing a few games, I’m ready to share a couple of thoughts.

My first game was Italy v Germany, where I drew 0 – 0 against the Germans, before rightly losing on penalties. Then, my international career looking bleak, I headed to the npower Championship and took the reins at Swansea. I found it was too early to start a career mode; I wanted to get a feel for the new game without being too concerned over long term careers of players / injuries and so on. Instead I cracked on with some random exhibition matches. Firstly, I am pleased to say I didn’t lose a game… admittedly I didn’t win a game either (0-0 v Cardiff, 0-0 v Chelsea, 0-0 v Real Madrid, followed by a 1-1 draw v England, with none other than Sinclair netting my only goal). I’m not a goal scoring machine as you can tell…

The squads have been updated completely (apart from the loans – Kuqi is in the Swans squad and Nouble is still with West Ham). Real life injuries are overlooked, meaning Pintado, Beattie and Bodde are all fit and available to play. No sign of Makabu-Makalambay, but he was a late signing in all fairness; if he performs well for the Swans in real life, I’ll sign him to my FIFA team!

Obviously a lot of money has gone into rendering the big names (Rooney, Kaka, Chiellini) as accurate as possible. Most of the players in the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, all look and move basically identical to real life. However when we jump to the Swans squad, up-close the players look bugger all like their real life counterparts. From a distance though you can easily tell who’s who. Even though the facial detail isn’t accurate, the smaller details seem to have been picked up and included: Scott Sinclair’s yellow boots and strapped wrists, Dyer and his bright red boots (does he actually wear these anymore?) and the bullish running that is (was?) Kuqi. The body types have had, like advertised, a complete revamp. You wouldn’t confuse Williams with Dyer if they stood next to each other in real life and this has been mimicked in the game.

Game play is immaculate, with EA totally revamping passing style and control. As I’ve said, this isn’t a full review as I haven’t had time to play until my fingers bleed (yet), but I’ve already noticed subtle changes, such as controlling the ball and the way the ball bounces off the keepers – much more realistic this time around. Passes won’t always go to who you want; it all depends on the power and angle you hit the ball – which makes the game less ‘ping-pongy’ and therefore harder to score (well, that’s my excuse anyway)!

Other features within the game have been created. For example, before playing an exhibition match, you’re able to select which referee you want. They differ in the strictness over cards and fouls, which can totally change a game (as you know if you’ve seen some of the refs down the Liberty over the last year). During the game, stats appear at the top of the screen: passing, possession, shots which make for a more realistic experience. At the end of the game, you can select different highlights to watch – the computer will pick up any good shots, saves or misses and files them for your convenience. If you missed a sitter during the match, it will be waiting for you at the end! Another feature I’m yet to try is the option to set your own personalised themes for when your team walks out onto the pitch and scores a goal. I just need to find an MP3 of the souped-up theme from Gladiator and that’ll be the Swans entrance sorted!

So there we go. A little summary of what I’ve experienced so far. To be honest, I’ve barely scratched the surface, but am sure I will over the next few months. Look out for a more in-depth review later in the year. If I can still type through the blood.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Ambulance please... I've been watching the Swans!

I was half ready to type a “what the hell happened?!” blog after last night’s game. Only based on the second half, of course, as the first half seemed close to perfection! Sinclair really showing what an amazing addition he is to the squad with a great performance and goal to match, along with fellow forward Dobbie getting the second. The first half euphoria seemed to be flowing into the second half, with Nouble bagging his first goal for the travelling Jacks. 3 – 0! Away from home! Who are we? Who are... oh wait... it's all turning a bit mental.

The Swans weren’t used to being that far ahead in an away league match. They were almost scared of losing it, scared of what would be said if they returned home from another away game with no points. But that seemed unlikely? Winning 3 – 0, you aren’t going to give away that sort of lead! Well, on a night that produced 40 goals across the Championship, a night where Preston came from 4 – 2 behind to win 4 – 6 at Leeds, it seemed that Watford could well turn things around.

Suddenly Swansea were on the back foot with De Vries forced to make some fine saves and Tate making goal saving clearances from the line with his chest! Watford wanted a goal. And a goal they got, in the 76th minute courtesy of Troy Deeney. A few nervous laughs as Swans fans shrugged off a possible comeback from Watford. There was only 15 minutes left. No chance.

However, conceding that goal shook the remaining confidence and from then on it was defend, defend, defend, giving Watford a new enthusiasm for a late comeback. This led to another Watford goal and, with 5 minutes left, Swansea looked like a different team, struggling to contend with the unexpected might of the home attack.

If you had a heart condition it was probably best to leave the stadium around this point, or turn off the commentary, as things got crazier. Attack, attack, attack from Watford. The home crowd cheered as another goal went in. It was 3 – 3! Watford deserved the draw! But no! The offside flag had been raised. It didn’t count! We could all breathe again and put the defibrillators away as the game finally ended!

Very close in the end. I mean, a draw wouldn’t have been a bad result. Actually, it would have been a good result if Watford had taken the first goal and Swans battled back for the draw and came away with a point. But when you go 3 goals up, a win is the only thing good enough, and Swansea were close to letting that slip. Luckily they didn’t and claimed the 3 points, taking them to a respectable 8th in the table with 15 points (remember 2nd place Cardiff only have 17 points, showing that this is still a very open league... apart from bloody QPR who seem to be destined for the Premiere once again).

So Derby at the Liberty on Saturday, and hopefully a simpler win! Things are never easy with the Swans.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Swans unable to produce in Nottingham (Forest 3 - 1 Swans)

Hmm. The pundits and the bookies (...okay, and myself) got it all wrong. The draw specialists changed into a winning machine up at The City Ground today, prolonging Swansea’s poor away form and snatching three points that would have seen the Swans sitting higher in the table. Oh well. The biggest defeat under Brendan Rodgers does have a positive. It shows how lucky we are to have Scott Sinclair, as he really was missed today. Positives over!

It seems that the Swans’ strengths really lie in the midfield and this showed with the amount of homework Forest did. They totally snuffed out any fire that Pratley tried to start and, by rendering him useless, they ruled the midfield. Gower and Cotterill struggled to contain their men, which quickly led to constant attack and goals (the first courtesy of a penalty given away by DeVries). Despite a consolation goal by substitute Van der Gun, Swansea had no chance of coming back. It ended 3 – 1.

It was a shame that Dobbie was injured during the warm up and therefore unable to play as we needed him – again Nouble failed to really impress. At 19 (oh yeah, happy birthday for yesterday Nouble) he is fast and eager, but hasn’t managed to get into the Championship mindset yet. He needs another game maybe, but then he will have to perform or the rumours of a permanent signing after the loan period will come to nothing. Even with one little injury to Dobbie, it shows how much Swansea are in need of a permanent striker who can consistently produce. In related news, Kuqi scored for Derby today. He is a good guy to have on the bench – a bench that was missing striking force today. Lucky Derby.

All credit to Forest though. They fought well for the victory; allowing Swansea no room to manoeuvre and running back to defence every time they lost it up front. Their win takes them within a point of Swansea and two places below (Swans currently at 9th and Forest at 11th in the table).

So those were my thoughts on today’s match. I’m sure you will have some similar and some different opinions. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think of Swansea’s inability to produce away results and the lack of striking numbers.

Roll on Tuesday, where another away game (v Watford) looms. An away game that we need to win (... a draw would be acceptable) to get back on track for Championship glory!

Friday 24 September 2010

A different story...

We all remember what happened last season against Nottingham Forest. 1 – 0 to Forest, both home and away. It was the same old story.

At home the Swans were happily plodding towards another 0 – 0 draw (they were certainly the ‘draw specialists’ last season), until SUDDENLY Forest score and throw the Swans into disarray, resulting in a loss, instead of the one point that Sousa was hoping for. After the match Sousa said "We deserved much more, we created a lot of panic but we became anxious after they scored." And I think that’s how many fans will remember last season; creating too many unfinished chances.

When Swansea travelled to The City Ground, the same thing happened: 0 – 0, until a last gasp goal from Luke Chambers ended hopes of retribution and another handful of points slipped away. Too many unfinished chances.

Fast forward to this season and The Swans are all too aware that to have any hope of getting automatic promotion, home wins are not enough – they need away points, be it wins or draws. And I can see it happening against Forest tomorrow. I know a few pundits have tipped either the same score as last season (Forest win) or a 0 – 0 draw... 0 – 0? Those days have surely gone up to Leicester with Sousa? Haven’t they? Brendan Rodgers isn’t Sousa! He has shorter hair and a different accent for a start, but also has an attacking mind and a refreshed arsenal at hand, featuring Sinclair, Dobbie and new-boy Nouble, who are all capable of scoring.

So, with this in mind, I’m predicting... a 1 – 0 victory to the Swans. Okay, I may be completely off (I am ‘The man who knew too little’ after all), but I think with Sinclair on fire and Nouble looking to impress, I can’t see them not scoring. Nottingham Forest are struggling to get consistent wins, but, saying that, have not been beaten at home since last year. And they are the draw specialists this season. Hmm... maybe a 1 – 1 draw then? Okay, scrap my first prediction, I’m going for 1 – 1.

Swansea are the highest placed team in the Championship who have yet to draw or win away. That says a lot for the Liberty Stadium, and maybe their away confidence, but also says that this season is definitely not the same old story. Which is fine by me.

Forza Swansea!

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Some thoughts on the new Swans iPhone app

After seeing a couple of adverts for the new Official Swans iPhone app, I decided to ‘pop into the app store’ and download it. It’s been out for a week or two now, but I wanted to have a proper play around before sharing my thoughts.

Firstly, the adverts are a little misleading. I went to the app store and searched for “Swansea City”, which produced results, but no sign of the “official app”. After a few more searches returned negative, I revisited the advert where I discovered that the app is actually called ‘FL Football’ (from The Football League), and you then have to select Swansea as your home team. I visited the app store for the fifth time that day and successfully downloaded it. Annoyingly I accidentally selected Stevenage as my home team and had to reinstall the app again, but was finally ready to see if my downloading ordeal had been worth it.

As with many iPhone apps these days, it’s free to download and use most features, with the option of upgrading for £4.99. Now, I’m just giving my thoughts on the free version, as I have no real interest in the bonus features, which, from what I can tell, are: advert free viewing (I don’t really notice the ads), the ability to view Match Highlights on your phone (I watch these for free on the internet / MOTD), a score predictor (probably quite fun, but I place a few bets myself, so don’t feel the need for this) and mapping to stadiums if you are travelling away (probably quite a useful feature).

The home screen is simply set out; basically a menu with: ‘Today’s Match’, Latest News headlines, Latest results, Next Fixtures and a couple of extras, like a shop and an npower link. It’s set in the Swansea colours (for all the diehard fans out there, who would accept nothing less)! The menu screen is great for viewing at a glance for instant info, but you can click these titbits for more details. Design, therefore, is well done and smooth.
The main feature, which I’ve downloaded many other apps for, and never been completely satisfied, is the Live Text Commentary feature. Now, I was in the Liberty for the Scunthorpe match and decided to test it compared to the live action; checking how accurate and quick the response was. I was a little disappointed. The time between things happening on the grass in front of me, to it being updated on the app was sometimes 4 or 5 minutes! I also found no ‘refresh’ button, which meant I had to press ‘back’ then re-enter the commentary section for new commentary! I feel the Sky Sports app is better in this respect.

Otherwise, it’s a nice little app and certainly worth downloading for free. I would be interested in seeing another official app though, made exclusively for the Swans, but until then this will do nicely.

Monday 20 September 2010

Something Swansea to smile at!

There is usually little reason to smile if your team has gone 8-0 down. Little reason at all. Unless, of course, you were in the crowd for the 1990 Anfield fixture between Swansea and Liverpool, where a Swans fan called "Ciro" managed to invade the pitch, score a (pretty good in all fairness) goal, and evade several seething stewards, all to a soundtrack of triumphant cheers from the travelling Jacks!

I'm not sure which is my favourite part, but you've gotta love the crowd cheering when a) Ciro scores, and b) when four stewards fall in the process of capturing him!

I just had to post it. If I ever find "Ciro" I will buy him a pint and a new Swansea City scarf, for making my day a little brighter! (This is a serious offer! Point me in his direction and I'll buy you a pint too!)

Sunday 19 September 2010

Swans (eventually) brush aside Scunthorpe at Fortress Liberty!

The game against Scunthorpe reminded me of a 2p slot machine: keep putting your pennies in and eventually you’ll get a return. There was nothing instant about the Swans’ win yesterday. It took 82 minutes of hard 2p action to see an outcome. But persistence paid off when Sinclair slotted in the first, ending the frustration of the home crowd. New boy Frank Nouble looked incredible in the first five minutes and then quickly faded into the background, making little impact until he was correctly subbed for Dobbie, who proved this by netting Swansea’s second.
Several unusual mistakes from the slightly-too-casual Swans’ back four could have led to conceding unnecessary goals, but luckily Scunthorpe’s strikers were as off target as the referees decision-making skills, who let too many 50/50 decisions go the way of The Iron (or “The Neon Bees” as I now refer to them, thanks to their garish away strip). The game ended 2 – 0; a win that Swansea’s performance in the second half certainly justified and an 8th consecutive home win (spanning last season), which takes them to 6th in the table.
Despite the substantial amount of defensive errors during the game, Alan Tate won the Man of the Match award, which I still would have given to Sinclair, if only for the way he woke up in the second half. After his sleeping start, Sinclair looked very dangerous. Sharp and skilful; a near perfect winger for the Swans. I’m sure Nouble will quickly settle and produce better results too (rumours are spreading that he will sign on a 2 year contract after the initial 3 month loan is up, replacing Kuqi). With Dobbie and Beattie (whenever he may return) key parts of the squad, as well as goal capable Pratley and Cotterill, the strike force is looking a lot healthier than last season. A more exciting Swansea to watch.
I did feel a little sad as I packed up my kit and left the stadium.  I caught a glimpse of Gorka Pintado. He looked very glum indeed. Glum because he wasn’t being hounded for autographs? Or glum because he knows that, even when fit, he'll struggle to fit into the new, goal scoring Swansea? As he walked towards me, I felt inclined to ask for an autograph to put him out of his misery, but a little boy beat also took sympathy and beat me too it.
So well done Swansea City. The 2nd October (v Derby) is the next opportunity for another home victory to add to the collection. An ever growing collection!