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!