Sunday 30 December 2012

Swansea City: 2012 Review

2012 - another eventful year for Swansea City.

From securing a second season in the Premier League, to a dramatic managerial change and the addition of some of the best players Swans fans have ever seen at the club.

Here is my brief (as brief as I could make it) snapshot of the club's centenary year, highlighting the best bits and worst bits that have made 2012 so memorable.

Though I've checked and re-checked, I would appreciate a comment below if you spot a glaring omission or silly inaccuracy... it happens to the best of us.

Happy New Year!

January 2012

Swansea started 2012 well under Brendan Rodgers (remember him?). The team kicked-off with a 2-0 away win against Aston Villa, before the outstanding 3-2 victory over Arsenal, where the Swans came from behind to beat them - the first big scalp of the debut Premier League season.

Then, despite thoroughly deserving it, Swansea were unable to take all three points away from the first home game against Chelsea. Swansea drew in the worst possible way with an injury time equaliser from Bosingwa (deflected off Neil Taylor), which made the 1-1 scoreline feel like a 4-0 defeat.

Meanwhile, David Cotterill left the club after his contract was cancelled by mutual consent. Swans fans across the globe shrugged their shoulders.

The Swans were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Bolton in January.


An international break saw relatively little Swansea City action this month. The highlight was a 2-1 away win at West Brom (and that's scraping the barrel!), with a low point being the 3-2 home loss to Norwich.

Also in February, Brendan Rodgers signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract that was set to keep him with the club until July 2015. We all know how that turned out.


A good month for Swansea City - three wins in a row, comprising three clean-sheets and six goals.

However the one goal everyone will remember from March is Luke Moore's header which secured a superb three points against eventual Premier League champions Manchester City. The only thing that could top the euphoria of Moore's goal was the close up of Sian Massey as she flagged Micah Richards offside to deny him an equaliser in the dying minutes of the game. Brilliant!

However, the winning streak stopped at the end of the month with a 2-0 home defeat to Everton. Typical.


A poor run for the Swans, with three back-to-back losses against Spurs, Newcastle and QPR; conceding eight goals and scoring just one.

The last game of the month saw Swans fans welcome back Dorus de Vries to the Liberty Stadium, who started the game for Wolves. Brendan Rodgers' new 3-4-3 formation looked to be working wonders with Swansea heading into the break 4-1 up. No-one is quite sure what happened next as we witnessed Wolves score three in the second half, turning a without-doubt win into an unsure draw. Entertaining, but annoying.


What can we say about May... one thing is for sure: Brendan Rodgers played a big part!

Firstly we said goodbye to Swansea City's first Premier League season with a 1-0 win against Liverpool in front of an Elvis-themed Jack Army - the wishes of Brendan Rodgers. This was a superb end to a superb season. It was also Brendan Rodgers' last game as Swansea City manager.

Swansea ended their debut Premier League season in 11th place - outstanding considering the odds against them.

However, the joy soon turned to shock as two weeks later Brendan Rodgers silently left the club for Liverpool. Twitter broke down with Swans fans unsure of what to do next. It was truly the end of an era. A very bitter end at that.

My blog post on the issue was well received and worth checking out again to relive the heartbreak.


If May was a month of heartbreak, June was a month of uncertainty. We all brushed ourselves off and began the search for a new manager.

After many names - Poyet, Zola, Bergkamp, Holloway... even Monk - were thrown around, one seemed to stick: Michael Laudrup. Soon the rumours became reality and Swansea City were in possession of their new manager. Some (including myself) were unsure, but most fans were euphoric with the high-profile Dane. Either way he had the full support of Swans fans everywhere.

June was also the month Adidas unveiled Swansea City's centenary kit, to the joy of many who felt the previous year's had been a little bland. This truly was a kit to celebrate the club's history.

Elsewhere, injury-riddled Ferrie Bodde was released by the club in June.


New prices for a home Premier League ticket were revealed by the club to the disgust of many fans - £45 seemed to be blatantly taking advantage. The ever-confusing revisions of the Jack Army membership scheme didn't help the club's case either.

In July Gylfi Sigurdsson left Swansea and signed for Spurs, joining Steven Caulker who returned home after a successful loan spell with the club.

Michael Laudrup brought some real talent on board, signing Michu from Rayo Vallecano (for around £2m), Chico Flores from Genoa (around £2million), while Jonathan de Guzman joined the club on a season-long loan from Villarreal. 

Swansea City began playing again, with the traditional Port Talbot derby (Swans won 5-0), before a more glamorous trip to the good ol' USA to play friendlies against Colorado Rapids Ventura, County Fusion and San Jose Earthquakes.


Swansea were heavily tipped to be heading straight back to the Championship by most bookies and FourFourTwo predicted Swans to be rock-bottom come May.

However, FourFourTwo looked to immediately eat their words as Michael Laudrup began his reign with two amazing Premier League wins and eight goals (five of which coming from the opener against QPR)! The winning continued with the first Capital One Cup match - a 3-1 win against Barnsley.

Elsewhere, Swansea made two record breaking signings this month - Ki Sung-Yeung from Celtic for a fee of around £6m and Pablo Hernandez from Valencia for £5.55m.
In August we also said goodbye to Joe Allen, who followed Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool for £15m, and Scott Sinclair, who left to sit on the bench at Man City for a fee which would amount to around £8m. In retrospect, this was great business! 

Other players leaving the club were fringe players Andrea Orlandi and Stephen Dobbie, who both went to Brighton.


September was much more sobering, and the defeats came heavily. Swansea failed to win any Premier League matches; losing three and drawing against Sunderland. However the Capital One Cup progress continued with a 3-2 victory against Crawley Town.

Swansea also signed Itay Shechter on a season-long loan from Kaiserslautern in September, while Dwight Tiendalli was signed on a free-transfer until the end of the season after being released by FC Twente. Tiendalli was set to replace Neil Taylor who fractured his ankle this month, in Swansea's 2-2 draw with Sunderland.

This was also the month that the club celebrated 100 years of football, since the first professional game against Cardiff ( in 1912.

Elsewhere, claimed the title of Best Sports Blog in Wales at the 2012 Wales Blog Awards. I was thrilled and very proud (I still am).


Swansea were unable to take a deserved point against Man City at the Etihad, but more worrying was the sight of Michel Vorm being stretchered off. Step forward Gerhard Tremmel.

The club also came up against Brendan Rodgers for the first time since he left, in the Capital One Cup on Halloween - Swansea travelled to Liverpool and beat them 3-1. We all cheered. 


Alan Tate did the unthinkable and left Swansea City on loan until January to Leeds United.

Brendan Rodgers and Joe Allen re-visited the Liberty Stadium for the first time since May, and took a point back to Liverpool following the 0-0 draw. 

No points were dropped this month, with three draws - including another 1-1 home draw with Chelsea - and two wins against Newcastle and West Brom. Gerhard Tremmel certainly proved himself in Vorm's absence and contributed greatly to the good month.


A month packed with football for Swansea City - seven games in all.

December began with two late Michu goals, which gave Swansea a 2-0 away victory to Arsenal - a wonderful feat which would set them up well for the... that's right, the 3-4 loss at home to Norwich.

The Swans then progressed to a semi-final clash with Chelsea in January after beating Middlesbrough 1-0 at home.

Back to the Premier League and, after a lacklustre performance and a 1-0 loss away to Spurs, the Swans came back to claim an incredible point against current leaders Man United at the Liberty Stadium. The exciting 1-1 game almost ended in tragedy as Robin van Persie was close to being killed by a ball to the face (as exaggerated by Sir Alex Ferguson...). Needless to say, van Persie survived and culprit Ashley Williams wasn't arrested for attempted murder.

Swansea ended the year with an edgy 2-1 away win against Fulham, using a team with seven changes. The club begin 2013 in 10th place in the table. Take that FourFourTwo.

An exciting end to a year full of drama. Phew.

ForzaSwansea Team of 2012

Rangel, Williams, Caulker, Taylor
Britton, Sigurdsson, Michu
Routledge, Graham, Dyer

Subs: Tremmel, Davies, Chico, Allen, Hernandez

Agree? Disagree? Leave your Swansea team of 2012 below!

Sunday 23 December 2012

Swansea City 1 - 1 Man United: A Winter Warmer

"Glory, glory Swansea City!"

Okay, not quite 'glory' in the traditional sense, but a victory of sorts for Swansea, who have now taken points from all the "big" teams in the Premier League. A 1-1 draw against Man United see the Swans celebrate the festive period 11th in the table.

I'll keep this short as you'll all want to be over-indulging in festive cocktails and/or mince pies.

Swansea started very brightly today and we saw some impressive fluid football from the men in white in the first ten minutes. However the confidence seemed to vanish as soon as Patrice Evra scored from his head on 15 minutes. A soft goal, and another conceded from a set piece. Leon Britton was ultimately to blame as he moved from his position on the far post, but it shouldn't have reached him in the first place. Swansea do need to improve on set-piece defence, but we'll leave that for now.

Thankfully heads only dropped for about ten minutes, when we saw a wonderful pass from Routledge through to de Guzman in a great onside position, whose rebounded shot fell for Michu (who else) to tap in. A deserved equaliser and a goal that sees Michu crowned the current top goal scorer in the Premier League with 13 goals.

The second half is where it all kicked off. Really good, exciting, frantic football. United seemed a lot more likely to nick the second goal, with a few slaps of the cross bar and forcing a few good saves, but Swansea held on well and created a few chances themselves.

We saw a not-so-seasonal scuffle between Ashley Williams and Robin van Persie, after Williams kicked the ball against the head of a floored van Persie (accidental or not is still undecided, depending on who you support). I can sympathise with van Persie mainly because... well, it must have hurt. But that's football. Alex Ferguson claimed afterwards that the incident could have killed Van Persie - that's a little extreme. No, that's very extreme. I've had many balls to the face (not a euphemism) when playing football and I've never died. It was not attempted murder - relax Ashley, no jail for you.

Thankfully no-one was killed and the fight added some extra heat to a cold afternoon in South Wales.

Agustien won man of the match - well done Kemy, you deserved it. Dwight Tiendalli also made himself known today - a definite competitor for a first-team spot even when Rangel/Taylor come back from injury. He made a good go of attacking and placed some great balls into the box (even if they weren't met by anyone).

It was nice to see Michel Vorm back in action. It may be difficult for Gerhard Tremmel to accept, as he has been superb in Vorm's absence, but Vorm showed why he is first choice on a couple of occasions today.

For Swansea to claim a point again the most recognised team in the world is another testament of how far the team have come, and another thing to tick off the list of success.

Today's festive frenzy of football was the perfect build up to Christmas and a point was a justified gift to the team and the fans.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday 20 December 2012

Swansea City: Capital One Cup, Man United and Villa (David, not Aston)!

It's been an eventful week for Swansea City, so let's sum it up in a best bits blog!

Swansea City vs Chelsea - Capital One Cup semi-final

After Chelsea eventually bettered (and battered) Leeds 5-1 in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night, they seemed destined to be Swansea's semi-final opponents.

From what I can see, reaction from Swans fans is mixed. Some would have preferred to play Aston Villa or Bradford, while some are happy to get Chelsea out of the way first.

I agree that it may be less daunting for the Swans to play Chelsea over two legs. As long as Swansea keep themselves in it during the first leg at Stamford Bridge, they will have a brilliant advantage with the home crowd for the second game.

Then it is just the case of brushing Bradford or Aston Villa aside in another Wembley final! Or, as one tweeter wrote this week -  said: "We'll probably beat Chelsea and then lose to Bradford in the final!! #TheSwanseaWay"

The first leg at Stamford Bridge kicks-off at 7:45pm on Wednesday, January 9th.

Welcome to Swansea, David Villa?

In my last post I said Swansea needed a new striker, but I didn't expect Barcelona's David Villa to be the first (or anywhere) on the list. However it seems to be quite a solid rumour at the moment and, with odds being slashed from 40/1 to 8/11 on Wednesday, everyone has gone mental!

We all know that bookies slash odds all the time and it comes to nothing. They panic and lower odds when they notice a big surge of bets on one particular outcome. Or perhaps they know something that we don't. Either way it is very interesting and enjoyable to hear these rumours.

Would he really give up the beauty of Barcelona for the sobering sight of Hafod? I guess if the money is right and regular football is on offer, he may consider it.

This is where it becomes unrealistic though - can Swansea City afford Villa's wages? At probably £100,000+ a week it's unlikely, unless he fancies a severe pay cut.

However it's certainly one for Huw Jenkins to mull over - we know Villa is a more accomplished goal scorer than, say, Shefki Kuqi was. He would be the goalscorer the club are in need of to take the strain off Michu. With Villa leading the way, Swansea could actually set their sights on a top four finish!

Either way, at least now these crazy rumours have some element of believability to them, which is always good news for Swans fans.

Swansea City vs Man United

With so much going on, it's easy to forget the fact that Man United will visit the Liberty on Sunday for just the second time. Last time round Swansea were on the verge of sharing a point with United, but a Michel Vorm mistake gave Chicharito his first goal in Wales.

This time Man United will pose the same threat. Sitting comfortably at the top of the Premier League table, Man United don't seem to have wowed much this year, but are capable of winning game after game, as everyone expects of them.

It's safe to say United are favourites for Sunday's festive football, but Swansea always have a chance to take something at the Liberty Stadium, regardless of who they play.

The unfortunate factor for Swansea are the injuries - Taylor is still out, while Vorm and Rangel are fighting to be fit ahead of the game. Meanwhile, Michu says he's willing to get hurt again against Man United. I like the commitment but hopefully Ferdinand doesn't see this as an excuse to break his leg.

Whatever happens, we will need a better, more enthusiastic performance than the game against Spurs. Swansea shouldn't give Man United the respect the deserve. If they are up for it on Sunday, I will go for a 1-1 draw!

Sunday 16 December 2012

Swansea City 0 - 1 Spurs: I came back for this?!

Today I make my triumphant return to blogging!

Now, this may sound selfish - but I'm sure other sportswriters will agree - it is sometimes easier to blog when your team are doing poorly than when things are all rosy. So today was a good time to rejoin the blogosphere with a dull performance from Swansea City.

It's not a massive surprise. The Swans were without several key players - Angel Rangel and Pablo Hernandez have both been superb recently, but both were injured today and that cut some of Swansea's power going forward. Add Michel Vorm and Neil Taylor's lengthy injuries and Swans were lacking in defence.

However, despite the defensive injuries, it wasn't really the defence that was the problem against Spurs. The back four did well to absorb the consistent pressure of Spurs attack, while Gerhard Tremmel made some good saves. Ashley Williams played very well and deserved his man of the match award, while Chico Flores was as fiery as ever.
It was the midfield lacking today. Ki Sung Yueng looked tired and elsewhere for much of the game, while de Guzman was also poor. Even Leon Britton was off at times. Casual passes and poor touches cost Swansea any momentum going forward and getting the ball up from defence to midfield was a struggle. Dyer and Routledge both produced little to get excited about either.

Kemy Agustien came on, shortly followed by Luke Moore, shortly followed by the goal for Spurs. We can't blame Moore for the goal though. Then came a bit of attacking force for Swansea, but Spurs stopped much of it with little hassle. Finally, we had an annoying end where Michu was accidentally taken out by Hugo Lloris, and then everything kicked off. And then it was game over.

The stats say it all really: Swansea had no shots on target, while their possession was just 39% for the whole game. Spurs had 24 shots in total, compared to Swansea's four.

Not a festive result for Swansea, but White Hart Lane is a tough place to go, Spurs are a top side and Swansea were understrength.

The Swans remain in 10th then, which - let's be honest - is better than any of us would have predicted at the start of the season. They'll take on Man United on the 23rd at the Liberty Stadium where anything other than a loss will set us all up for a good Christmas!

Finally, before you all leave for other websites for a more in-depth analysis, I'm asking the question 'what does Laudrup need to focus on in the transfer window'?

I'd say a real effort to seal a capable goal scorer is needed. This is not to disparage Danny Graham, Luke Moore or Itay Shechter, as they all try to put in a shift when on the pitch, sometimes scoring, but not often. Recently the goal scoring duties seem to have fallen to Michu. This isn't a bad thing, but giving someone else the pressure to score goals would allow Michu to roam where he likes, which is when he scores his goals.

It's similar to a time a few season's ago, where Scott Sinclair was relied on for everything. If he fell injured, or dipped in form, the whole team would suffer. Let's hope that doesn't happen with Michu, but if he is out for any reason Swansea need another capable scorer to smash them in. All budget should go there because every other area is pretty much oozing with talent.

Please use the comments section of this post to add your desired (and realistic) striker for the January transfer window!

Sunday 25 November 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "Ashley Williams: My Premier League Diary"

I was a big fan of Adrian Mole and his nerdy, awkward diaries when I was growing up (as a nerdy, awkward teenager myself I could sympathise greatly with Mole). So, as an adult, I was pleased to see Ashley Williams' new book was written in my favourite format.

It's not often that football fans will have the chance to catch a day-to-day glimpse of what football is like behind the scenes (unless you can stomach watching Being: Liverpool) and even rarer that you will see such a detailed view of the inner workings of Swansea City FC.

In the new book, Williams - in conjunction with Swansea sports writer David Brayley - takes us through all the highs and lows of life in the Premier League. We see honest humour in the form of dressing-room banter and pre-season antics, alongside great sadness when Williams opens up about his grief over the loss of Gary Speed in November.

It's also nice to read that footballers - despite the millions in the bank and copious adoring fans - are, in fact, real people, with everyday worries and problems.

After a foreword from his mate Rio Ferdinand, Williams begins the book in July 2011 where he reminisces about that day at Wembley (and the reason why Nathan Dyer was nowhere to be seen immediately after lifting the trophy). He then takes us up the Alps for the club's pre-season trip before the Premier League kicks off, where he describes (occasionally in excessive detail) the tests each game posed and the jubilation/disappointment of winning/losing games.

As you may know from reading an excerpt published in the Evening Post last week, Williams highlights clashes with Luis Suarez, among others, as the season goes on. He ends the book in May this year, with his joy at Swansea securing an 11th place finish and the uncertainty that came with Brendan Rodgers securing a job at Liverpool.

It's a hefty purchase at £14.95, but certainly worth it for a genuinely interesting, entertaining and insightful read from one of Swansea's most consistent players over the past few years. Check it out!

Available now in book shops and online from Amazon.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Blogger out - back in a few weeks!

Just a quick note from me to say that I will be relatively quiet on the blog over the next few weeks.

Currently a mixture of work and exam revision is taking up a lot of my time and I'd rather leave the blog alone for a few weeks instead of churning out some half-hearted attempt at something that nobody wants to read and I don't want to write!

Naturally, if something BIG happens (Alan Tate joins Cardiff, the Liberty Stadium burns down, etc), expect a reactionary post, but for now I suggest checking out the links page on this blog for a host of other brilliant Swansea City blogs during my short absence.

If you're new here why not check out some of my past posts - there are two years worth to dig into!

See you soon,


Monday 5 November 2012

A letter from Zimbabwe!

As most of you will know, I always try to put emphasis on bringing Swansea City fans from around the world together - and it's a much easier task now the Swans are cruising in the Premier League.

Despite often speaking to fans from America, Australia, Korea and much of Europe, I was surprised when I was forwarded a handwritten letter, sent from a Swans fan in Zimbabwe (that's Africa for those who failed geography).

The 16-year-old fan, Chimanga Maponga, writes the letter to reach out to Swans fans, asking them to get in touch with him and send him a little team news and share some stories about the most exciting team in the Premier League!

If you have a spare five minutes, why not get in touch with him? Send him an old match programme from a match or a photo of the vetch.

Go on - help out a Swansea fan who can't just pop on the bendy bus to the Liberty; I'm sure he would love to hear from you!

His address - and a scan of the letter - is below. Cheers!

Chimanga Maponga
HSE No. 922
Shumba Street,

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Ok? Ok? Ok? - OK!

You may think I've gone mental, or my blog been hacked into, but no - the title is just a light-hearted jab at Brendan Rodgers (whose time on Being: Liverpool has exposed him as a religious user of the word 'ok').

It seems like just yesterday we all felt the jolt of panic when we sensed unrest in the Swansea City camp - Brendan Rodgers being linked with Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers being confirmed with Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers leaving for Liverpool. Then came the cliche-riddled letter to the Evening Post. Then he was gone.

We soon wiped away the tears. Some of us turned angry, others remained unsure whether or not he was the new Martinez. However, he soon confirmed his place on the Swans fans hate list after looking to poach players like Ashley Williams and Michel Vorm, and then succeeding in taking Joe Allen.

Tomorrow, for the first time, Swansea City come up against Brendan Rodgers in the Capital One Cup.

We probably won't see the usual cup match tradition, where most Swansea fringe players will be aired out - we would hope for (and I'm sure Laudrup will deliver) pretty much a first team squad, with a few exceptions.

With the Man City game taking one of Swansea City's most valuable players in Michel Vorm, Gerhard Tremmel will really need to rise to this occasion. He has look flaky in the past and even struggled against Barnsley, but Laudrup has confidence in him. Still, I guess he is a better option than David Cornell.

Elsewhere Angel Rangel is suspended, but it's not the end of the world as I'm sure Rangel needed a bit of a rest. Dwight Tiendalli or Jazz Richards may well get an airing out, while Alan Tate or Garry Monk may make an appearance somewhere in defence at some point.

Maybe we'll see Luke Moore start up front or on a wing, though Danny Graham and Nathan Dyer have both been bench-warming recently, so I'd be surprised if they don't start.

Of course, this is a cup match - if Swansea lose it's not the end of the world. Ultimately the Premier League is still priority, but it goes without saying a win would be more than just a win.

Rodgers has the advantage of it being in Anfield and has the 'bigger' players advantage - we know what Steven Gerrard, Louis Suarez and, of course, Joe Allen can do on a good day. However, it's likely they will be rested - which is good news for the Swans.

I'm not sure how the travelling Jacks will respond to Rodgers... okay, they won't be applauding him. We all know what Rodgers did for the team, but it wasn't just his doing, as some of the lazier media outlets like to insist. We have plenty to thank the Irishman for, but enough to be bitter about too.

While the Swans fans at the game will surely vent plenty of anger, it will hopefully be our (well, Michael Laudrup and the team's) football that will do the talking.

(Meanwhile, this is an interesting article I found on the origin of the word Ok). Ok?

Thursday 25 October 2012

Swansea City vs Man City: Out for blood

There is no doubt that this weekend Man City - an already brutal opponent - will be considerably riled up when they take on Swansea City, after crashing out of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Swansea - as well all love to recall - beat Man City 1-0 last season. However the eventual Champions did beat the Swans emphatically in the first game - one we like to remember less.

Add the recoil from the Champions League loss and the 1-0 defeat at the Liberty Stadium to the stories of Roberto Mancini wanting revenge after Laudrup's Barcelona beat the Sampdoria side captained by the Italian in the 1992 European Cup final, and Man City have 'out for blood' written all over them.

Yes, this week things will be very tough at the roaring Etihad Stadium, where the home fans will demand a victory.

Looking at the team and we are pretty lucky with no real injury worries apart from Neil Taylor. Michael Laudrup has tinkered with the team in recent games and - though he's a shrewd manager - I still don't think he is actually sure of his best starting eleven. And I guess he's not the only one...

I'm not sure what set up he will go for, but one certainty is Michel Vorm in goals. An easy one, that. We should also see the recently clumsy Ashley Williams, with his refreshed contract, alongside Chico Flores in the centre of defence, and Angel Rangel and Ben Davies outside them.

As we make our way down the team sheet, things become less certain. The combination in the middle will probably be Leon Britton, Michu and Ki Sung Yueng - who has kindly asked the travelling Jacks to make lots of noise - though Jonathan de Guzman is equally likely to start instead of any one of those. On the wings, little Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and new-boy Pablo Hernandez have all made use of themselves recently and have all had time on and off the bench - either of those three could start.

Luke Moore scored the winner last year against Man City and - though I've never been his biggest fan - he hasn't looked bad recently. However it's quite unlikely he will start upfront. We will probably see Danny Graham start again, although Michu looked dangerous last week. Either way, the striker will have a tough time against a world-class goalkeeper and a pretty solid defence.
For the opposition, we are likely to see the appearance of ex-Swan, Scott Sinclair. This will be strange and I'm not sure of the reception he will get with the away support. It's pretty likely he will feature, as some of the bigger Man City players played mid-week against Ajax. I don't think he deserves boos or applause. You make up your own mind.

As usual, my knowledge of the opposition is just what I read on other websites and - ultimately - made up. So, instead of cut-and-pasting some drivel, I asked Ric Turner, a writer from Man City fan site Blue Moon, to share his thoughts with us. Take it away Ric!

It's probably a bad time for Swansea to visit The Etihad as City have started to rediscover their form after a relatively sluggish start to the season, taking nine points from the last three games.

The midweek game in Amsterdam may take its toll, but Mancini is likely to rotate the squad which could mean rare starts for the likes of Sinclair and Nastasic.

Last season Swansea gave a good account of themselves on the opening day of the season, and the 4-0 scoreline flattered City somewhat.

Under Laudrup you've made a fairly promising start to this campaign, and he's made some astute signings in Michu and Hernandez, but I think City will have too much for you at home. Our record at Eastlands is exceptional, and we haven't lost a league game at home for almost two years.

Likely team: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Barry, Garcia, Yaya Toure, Sinclair, Tevez, Balotelli

Prediction: Swansea play fairly open football, which could be to their detriment against a side as strong as City. 2-0 to City.

Swansea to win the game is around 12/1. As you may guess, I'm not particularly optimistic. However, we know the ball is round and anything could happen - we saw it last year - so I have put a few pound on Swansea grabbing the shock win again... just in case.

The less optimistic, but more realistic bet - and my prediction for the game - is 3-1 to Man City (at about 9/1). Ric's prediction of 2-0 to Man City is around 6/1. Both worth a pound in my eyes.

Thursday 18 October 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "Proud to be a Swan: The History of Swansea City 1912-2012"‏

As Premier League football stopped for a week, I took my own international break. A long flight to America gave me the perfect opportunity to catch up on some reading (and drinking from tiny cans of aeroplane beer). But what book was I to read to pass the time?

Since Swansea City have gone global, I've received quite a few emails from new Swans fans around the world. One question that crops up time and again is 'what are the best books to read about Swansea's history?'

Usually - pushed for time - I will just say 'check the official Swansea City history page'. I usually feel a little guilty for not being able to recommend something specific. So I decided to check out a history book - one that can bring anyone up to speed on our exciting football club.


Looking towards new releases I picked up a copy of "Proud to be a Swan: The History of Swansea City 1912-2012"‏ (y Lolfa), by a man who is both a historian and (most importantly) a Swans fan - Geraint H. Jenkins.

The book appealed to me because it seemed to offer the chance to learn everything about Swansea City from the very beginning, without having to dive into the library for prolonged periods (something the author clearly did).

It reads more like a novel than a history book, which is appropriate considering the almost fictional history Swansea City have written themselves. Much of the waffle sometimes associated with history books is cut out - what's left is a highly readable journey through Swansea's history.

Over the 186 pages, we read about the events leading up to the formation of the club and the first glory days of the mid-20s, where Joe Bradshaw reigned over players like Joe Sykes and Jack Fowler. Those were the days where the Vetch was bursting with fans shouting 'hurrah', while the players won the club's first trophies with attractive, passing football similar to the Swansea City of today.

We hear all about the various highs of the club, including trophies won, superstars developed and promotions secured. Of course, with the highs come the lows, and these are also all well documented - from the wartime years and wavering support to relegation scraps, and even a gruesome death.

Thankfully the book is very up-to-date, with the inclusion of our most recent manager upset and the recruitment of Michael Laudrup. Basically, if it happened in the past 100 years, it's likely to be in the book.

Add two high quality photo sections and a foreword by Swansea genius Huw Jenkins and you have a very readable history book.

So, as Swansea City step into the next 100 years of being South Wales' favourite football team, it's safe to say 'Proud to be a Swan' has punctuated the last century superbly.

You can buy the book here!

Thursday 4 October 2012

Swansea City and the first 'not-must-win-but-must-not-lose' of the season!

It's pretty early in the season to describe any game as 'must win', but we've discussed not-must-win-but-must-not-lose games in the past and I believe Saturday's match against Reading falls into this category.

Last time Swansea met Reading!

We're all aware of the current blip in Swansea's second Premier League season. After such a brilliant first two games, the three losses in a row probably hit us harder than if the Swans had just won one, lost one, one won, lost one, and so on.

It will be vital to pick up at least a point against Reading - not just to finish this lame period of despair, but to also take something away from Reading; a team likely to be battling Swansea towards the end of the season.

Also, let's face it - Reading are a team Swansea should be beating, especially at home. We did it at Wembley last year so who is to say we can't do it again on home soil in the big boy league!?

Michael Laudrup has said it will be one of the four biggest fixtures of the season. While it may not be a Liverpool clash or Man City at home, the Swans boss is right and it's good he knows this. It would be disconcerting for him to come out and say "Reading is just another game - play like you have been boys".

Reading are without a victory in their season so far, so while this will be a winnable game for Swansea it is certainly not going to be a walk over.

Before you say 'negative bastard' and click the little red cross at the top of your browser, I will say it is always reassuring to see that Swansea can lose three games in a row and still be 11th in the Premier League table! A win could well put the club back in 8th in the table, which is nicer to focus on instead of what fate looms if they suffer another loss. 

So onto the squad and, apart from Neil Taylor and Kemy Agustien, Swansea are basically back to full strength after the period of red cards and injuries. This means there are no excuses about being sparse in certain areas - the quality of play is the only thing in question.

It was Chico Flores' fault that Peter Crouch was unmarked for the first goal conceded at Stoke, but we'll blame that on rust thanks to his three game absence. He has no excuses this week. His fellow centre back Ashley Williams also needs his game head on after some recent poor form.

Angel Rangel has come out of the last few games one of the only players who seems to have done - or tried to do - his job properly. Ben Davies on the other wing isn't the most confident, but has done a decent job recently - however, I would still like to see Dwight Tiendalli start this week.

In midfield Leon Britton will play his 400th game for the Swans if he plays on Saturday. When I say if it will almost certainly be when he plays. He must partner up with Ki Sung Yueng, who - like Rangel - seemed to do a good job when others were losing it. Michu is the final man in the middle three and, though less effective recently, deserves the chance to start because we all know what he can do.

The final third has been a problem for Swansea in the last three games. I know it's technically all been a problem - especially with seven goals conceded - but Danny Graham and co just haven't been compensating with goals for Swansea. Graham seems isolated at times while Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge - who should both start on Saturday - just haven't had the confidence that they did against QPR and West Ham.

Onto Reading and... well I don't know much about Reading. I tried to get a Reading blogger on board but none were interested. To sum up - a poor start leaves them in 19th place with just two points. If you are desperate to find out about the opposition, I suggest reading the BBC preview whenever it is released...

I actually feel Swansea will turn things around this week. I almost had my 2-1 to Stoke prediction correct and feel I will be bang on with a 2-1 to Swansea prediction this week (at around 7/1). Bet on this at your peril.

Whatever happens Swansea cannot afford another loss, and certainly cannot afford another bad performance. I doubt it will change much but it will do nothing for the confidence of the side going into the international break.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Swansea vs. Stoke: not that different?

The 'top of the league' chants have stopped, the Michu goal-machine is broken and the fawned-over passing stats have recently been less impressive.

Yes, after the unbelievable start - picking up six points in two games - Swansea City have settled into a more believable Premier League season, earning just one point in the last three and looking like a poor Championship team in the process.

It should be pointless me saying 'let's not panic' because people shouldn't be panicking. However, Swans fans are understandably uneasy with the way things are going. The team need to sharpen up a little and play a bit of... well, football.

Still, it's early in the season and there is now a chance for the team to redeem themselves against Stoke on Saturday. Stoke are 13th in the table - two places below Swansea after a poor start for them - on four points with four draws.

Most media outlets will be billing this as a 'clash of styles' and last season it was very true. Stoke are a big physical side who - clichéd as it may be, but quite true - love to play a long ball to a tall front man. Last season Swansea were bullied off the ball and succumbed to strong set-pieces. But this season things already seem different. Swansea are looking to play a longer pass at times and - with the likes of Michu, Chico Flores and Sung-Yueng - are looking a tougher side, able to cope with what Stoke can throw at them physically.

Who should start in the middle on Saturday is a question worth asking. The side certainly missed Leon Britton against Everton so he needs to be the first name on the team sheet in my eyes. Michu, despite a poor spell recently, is certainly on there too. The fiery ying to Britton's calmer yang. Completing the trio should be Ki Sung-Yeung who was one of the only players against Everton to have a decent game. This relatively untested group should work well.

Nathan Dyer's silly sending off meant he missed one game (as it was two yellow cards, not a straight red), so he will be back this week after missing the Crawley game. I'd assume Wayne Routledge will join him on the other side as Pablo Hernandez looked a little useless against Everton.

Swansea's defensive worries remain worrying, though we're relieved to see Chico Flores back from his three-match ban. He'll certainly bolster the back four considerably, in place of Alan Tate who looked unable to cope against Everton. Elsewhere I think I'd prefer to see Dwight Tiendalli start at left back instead of Ben Davies for a change. Tiendalli had a good game at Crawley by all accounts and a Premier League start is deserved.

Would it be a stupid move to change Ashley Williams for Garry Monk? Probably. Either way, Williams needs a good shake after some of his worst ever performances in a Swans shirt recently.

With a defence lacking in confidence, goals are likely to be conceded - there's no escaping that. However the attacking players need to balance this out with goals of their own.

Stoke, as we've mentioned, have also started poorly and will be desperate for all three points after not winning in their last 11 Premier League matches. Stoke are without banned Andy Wilkinson, while former Swans player Mamady Sidibe is also out with an injury. They still have power, skill and, of course, height in players like Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam, though have a talented short-arse in Michael Owen likely to cause some trouble.

I feel it'll be a fiery game, with goals from both sides. However I have a funny feeling Swansea will feel the pressure away from home, especially at the Britannia - well known for its great home atmosphere. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm going for 2-1 to Stoke (at around 7/1). However with Stoke's recent record of score draws, 1-1 is a bet worth covering at around 5/1.

I'm sure none of us would complain with a point. None of us would complain with a loss if Swansea played with a little more purpose and direction than against Everton!

Saturday 22 September 2012

Swansea 0 – 3 Everton: Another one to forget!

If you are here, you're a glutton for punishment. Seriously, it's a lovely sunny Saturday evening - why aren't you drinking away the memories of the early kick-off in one of Swansea's many beer gardens?

Right... the match. Everyone has off days. Unfortunately the Swans players had all their off days at the same time!

It's really hard to write about Swansea City when it seemed like it wasn't actually Swansea playing. The players were wearing the kit, but otherwise it could have been Tranmere Rovers knocking it around.

Let's face it - the Swans were useless for much of the game. The usual smooth pass-and-move-forward game was replaced with a bumpy pass-and-lose-it-in-bad-areas style. Every first touch looked to bounce into the distance and careless passes were intercepted with ease.

Fair enough to Everton, who deserved the win and deserved to sit at the top of the table (albeit briefly). They have some very talented players. However, despite their clear abilities this season, I can only say 'Swansea made it easy for you'.

Lovely day at the Liberty (apart from the game).

What went wrong? It certainly wasn't the strongest Swansea team on the pitch. When Alan Tate and Ben Davies start, you know things will have a degree of shakiness about them. Elsewhere, Nathan Dyer and Leon Britton were two key players - maybe the most vital so far this season - who were left on the bench. They would have set a different tone to the game had they started. Don't get me wrong, before the match I was excited to see Hernandez and Sung-Yueng make the starting line-up, but in reality they made little impact.

Defensively the Swans seemed all over the place. Tate - though we love him - messed up a few times. Davies was decent in some places, but showed his naivety in other areas, and allowed Pienaar to slip past him and create the second goal, five minutes before half time. Essentially game over.

Once again we have Michel Vorm to thank for it not being 7-0, though even his distribution was a little poor today.

Nathan Dyer really looked to change things when he came on, however his feisty attitude led to two yellows - one for mouthing-off and the other for a bad tackle on Leighton Baines. However it was not just Dyer; discipline was surprisingly bad from Swansea, with a whopping (never used that word on the blog before) five yellow cards.

I didn't see much of Ki Sung-Yueng in the first half, though he replaced Tate in the back when Leon Britton came on and made some use of himself. For me, Britton was the most effective and it showed how much Swansea missed him from the starting line up. Angel Rangel also had a decent game going forward.

The referee? Well, from a Swansea perspective he was terrible, and gave Everton one-too-many decisions. But I'm not going to blame it all on him.

Two poor performances and two deserved losses for Swansea now. There's not much more to say about this game. Looking on the bright side, Swansea are still in a fine position (ninth in the table as I write this), but we can't rely on those brilliant first few games to see us through the rest of the season!

Next week the away trip to Stoke is likely to be an equally difficult game, but then we have two potential wins against Wigan and Reading - a few points from those will be vital.

Before all that Premier League action, the Swans will play Crawley Town in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. A chance for the team to get a good win and a little confidence after a few games to forget.

Friday 21 September 2012

Forza Swansea - Best Sports Blog in Wales 2012!

I did what I promised and flew the flag (...scarf) at the Wales Blog Awards in Cardiff!

Forza Swansea is now officially the Best Sports Blog in Wales! Naturally we had all assumed it was the best for some time, but it's nice to have it confirmed. (Seriously though, I didn't expect to win so I am very happy and proud by this.)

Sporting Wales Editor Hamish Stuart and Political Editor of ITV Wales Adrian Masters present me with my award

If you were at the Wales Blog Awards ceremony on Thursday night, you may have noticed I was announced as the winner. You may have also noticed I walked onto the stage wearing my Swans scarf and had a lovely photo taken.

However, my acceptance speech was a mass of nervous babble where I think I made a joke about Cardiff fans... What I actually meant to say on stage was something poignant and a few "thank you's". So, after a little time to reflect, here is the acceptance speech I wanted to give...

"Thank you very much for this award - I am thrilled. I have to thank a few people. Firstly, my readers, friends and family who always offer their support, feedback and comments on my blog posts. If I didn't have the readers I wouldn't have the blog! I'd also like to mention the other blogs shortlisted for Best Sports Blog, which were Girl on the River and Dodgy Knees and Dirty Balls. These guys thoroughly deserved their runners-up certificates and I hope one of them wins next year. Finally, I'd like to thank Swansea City FC - the most exciting football club in Britain, who always give me so much ammo to write with. From Brendan Rodgers leaving to that day in Wembley, there is always something to say on Swansea City!"

So once again, a big thank you to everyone who has read the blog over the past two years and those who have sent me nice congratulatory messages and Tweets!

I'll be back shortly for more Swans news and reviews!

Saturday 15 September 2012

Swansea City 0 - 2 Aston Villa: There's always one...

A poor performance and a deserved loss. It was bound to happen at some point, although we hoped it would be slightly later on in the year. If it helps, I almost got my match prediction right...

After a bright opening quarter, Swansea conceded the first goal when a shot from Matthew Lowton sailed past Vorm, via a deflection from Alan Tate. Otherwise the first half was very promising, with three great chances from the Swans. On 45 minutes it was still anyone's game.

Now, I'm not sure what was said in the dressing room at half-time, but it didn't help.
In the second half Swansea tried to play their usual game, but simply made too many mistakes - losing the ball through loose passes and allowing Villa to dispossess them too easily. Clearing the box also proved to be a rare difficulty today, and allowed the home side to pile on pressure.

The players all tried (or looked like they were trying), but it just didn't work out for them. Michu was as feisty as usual - picking up a yellow card - but looked clumsy at times and wasn't as effective. Jonathan de Guzman didn't offer as much support up front as last time. Pablo Hernandez looked more effective than Routledge when he came on - I wish he had come on sooner. Luke Moore came on late, but made something of himself and had the most shots out of any other Swans player (four, with one on target).

Alan Tate, who needed a good game, had a decent one. He never strikes me with pure confidence, but he made a block, a few successful clearances and won most of his aerial battles.

For me Nathan Dyer was the man-of-the-match (for Swansea at least), with plenty of tireless running. He seemed to take a more central role at times, which allowed him a few shots (including a rocket in the first half). He worked hard and tried to win the team a penalty (which - correctly by the referee - wasn't given), and caused havoc as always.

A blunder, a boob, a fault - call it what you will, but Ashley Williams certainly made the biggest mistake of the day. A casual header back to Vorm allowed Christian Benteke to take it away and knock it in. Williams made a similar error earlier in the game, but saved himself. No such luck the second time. Despite a generally superb start of the season for Swansea, Williams has struggled and made more mistakes than usual. Still, he's a vital name on the team sheet and concerned us all when he began limping around in the second half. Needless to say, Swansea do not need any more defensive injuries!

Apart from creating a few good chances in the first half, there are not many positives to take away from this game. Such a shame there was no end product to some of the exciting counter-attacking. Still, after four games, Swansea are in fifth place in the Premier League! That makes it all better.

Elsewhere, all credit to Aston Villa who didn't do anything amazing, but strung together some attractive passes and really capitalised on every one of Swansea's mistakes. This result surely kick-starts their season.

All in all, it really was one to forget today! Onto next Saturday, where the team can redeem themselves against Everton back on home soil.

Friday 14 September 2012

Swansea City vs. Aston Villa: Defensive woes...

The clearest, biggest, fattest issue that must be addressed before we discuss the upcoming game against Aston Villa is Swansea City's defence. Or lack of it...

We all winced when we saw Neil Taylor stretchered off against Sunderland. The wince turned into a violent shudder when we heard he would be out all season with a fractured ankle. One vital player down. In the same game, another defender ruled himself out of the next three games - the ever-feisty Chico Flores. He'll be serving the first of his three-match ban for his stupidly high tackle on Louis Saha. That's another key man gone.

Then we had a moment of good news/bad news. The good news was we all remembered Kyle Bartley had been signed for situations just like this! Brilliant - an ex-Arsenal/Rangers defender, eager to make his mark on the team! The bad news... yeah, you guessed it - he's injured. Ruled out for three months with a thigh injury picked up in training. Typical.
Don't fret (or stop your current fretting) - Swansea do have a few options. There are those full of potential, like Jazz Richards and Ben Davies, but Swansea do need someone with experience to fall back on. Thankfully, the club have signed former Holland under-21 international Dwight Tiendalli on a season long contract (a good-value free-transfer). He'll replace Taylor on the left. I've not seen anything of Tiendalli, so whether he will be as strong going forward (or at the back for that matter) will need to be seen.

Now... this is it for Alan Tate.

Really, this is his big chance to make an impact in the Premier League. Tate had a frustrating time last season with injuries and defensive competition, but he now has three full Premier League games to show that he can cope with the power and pace of the best attackers in the country. He will slot into the centre-back role next to Williams. Come on Alan - this is your moment.

Elsewhere, the Swansea starting XI (that's '11' for those who didn't do Latin in school) still isn't as predictable as last season. In a good way I guess, as there is a little choice among the rest of the squad.

We should see the same effective trio start in the middle: Britton, Michu and de Guzman. Originally I had a feeling Sung-Yueng would start this one, but he is likely to begin on the bench after fitness concerns. He played 90 minutes for South Korea in their World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday - we don't want to risk another injury now, do we?

Nathan Dyer, overlooked for the England squad once again, will appear on the wing. While his exclusion from the England squad seems ridiculous to everyone except Roy Hodgson, at least every time he pulls on a Swans shirt he will feel like he has something to prove, and that can't be a bad thing for Swansea City.

Joining Dyer on the wing will probably see the début appearance for Pablo Hernandez. This may be a little harsh on Wayne Routledge who has been nothing short of superb in the opening games, capped off by a superb goal against Sunderland two weeks ago. It would be good to see what Hernandez can do though, so I wouldn't say no to Routledge sitting this one out.

Now, onto Aston Villa. It's not been a convincing start for Paul Lambert's men - one point from three games sees them just one place above the relegation zone in this early stage. Without a win in 13 Premier League games, Villa will be gagging for three points.

Not sure about you, but I have a feeling Villa may nick it. For the first three matches I was optimistic but I just have this looming feeling of a loss on the cards for the Swans.

As you know, now and again I like to link up with an opposition blogger to share thoughts ahead of the game. This week we have Stuart Young from, who knows Villa inside out and has given us some brief thoughts:

There is a new positive vibe around Villa Park following the appointment of Paul Lambert. Too many people in the media were quick to jump on the Villa faithful last season for them not getting behind Alex McLeish. In reality, the vast majority did give him a chance, but his negative style of football soon turned us.
Anyway: this is a new Aston Villa. We wont make out that we will return to the heights we found ourselves under Martin O'Neill this season but we hope for slow and steady improvement to get back into that position.
Lambert, didn’t hang around, and brought in seven new faces during the summer - some will make an instant impact, while others will take time. I fully expect the new manager to stick with the same side that managed a score-draw with Newcastle. So we should line up something like this:
Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj 
Holman, El-Ahmadi, Ireland, Bannan 
Weimann, Bent
I wouldn't be surprised to see both Gabby Agbonlahor and new signing Christian Bentake come off the bench and make some kind of impact.
It wont be an easy game for us, but I believe we must get a win and really kick start our season. 

Thankfully Swansea's first three games have produced seven points, so a slip up won't be taken too badly. This doesn't mean Swansea can afford to lose this match - there will be plenty of time to lose matches against bigger teams. Aston Villa, once a top six club, are now struggling at the wrong end of the table and Swans need to kick them when they're down so to speak.
As I mention, I'm not as confident as usual for Swansea to get a result, despite the amazing start. I will say Aston Villa to win 2-1 (odds around 7/1). Another bet I've been happy to cover recently is Michu to score two or more, this week at around 18/1 - worth a pound or three with his record!

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Global Jack Army: Catching up with Swans fans from around the World!

We can't all be lucky enough to live in Swansea. (I'm serious).

Yes, despite the beauty of Indonesia, the endless sun of Florida and the high quality living in Austria, the residents of these countries are missing one thing: the Liberty Stadium. As you know, when you don't have the Liberty Stadium, you don't have the Swans.

This may not matter to some, but since Swansea City have gone global after joining, and staying in, the Premier League, the club has picked up a mass of new fans along the way. But who are these fans? Why did they pick the Swans as their adopted team instead of Man City, Arsenal or... Cardiff?

I have been very fortunate to speak to a great group of Swansea City fans who live in faraway places (yes, further than Glynneath) and ask them why they chose to follow Swansea City, what it's like supporting a team many people haven't heard of before and how do they keep up-to-date with the most exciting club in the Premier League!

In this article we have Jacks from South Korea, India, Australia, USA, Indonesia and more, all giving us a taste of what it's like to be a Swans fan abroad, from brand new supporters to exiled Jacks!

(NB: While these are the genuine answers given to me by the fans, some have been edited slightly for clarity).

RJ Kim, 25 
Seoul, South Korea

When did you start following Swansea City? 
Since Ki Sung-Yueng was transferred from Celtic.

What made you choose the Swans?
Because Swansea show remarkable growth in EPL 2012-13 and their style of play is very attractive.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
Since Ki's signing, Korean football fans have looked at Swansea with interest and now they like Swansea. Countless Koreans cheers for the Swans.

Who is your current favourite player?
Miguel Michu. He scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season already. I was very impressed with it.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
I check SCFC and their fan's Twitter frequently. When it's a game day, I watch games on television or live streaming. Sometimes, I use a live text message service from a Korean sports website.

Give me an interesting fact about your country! 
Google 'Gangnam Style' now! This is a song of PSY which is very popular in Korea. Gangnam Style has been a big issue across the border. Above all, its music video is very funny. Watch it!

Joarezka Adriargo, 25 
Surabaya, Indonesia

When did you start following Swansea City? 
Since last season, when Brendan Rodgers was in charge.

What made you choose the Swans?
The way they play is totally different from other EPL teams. It's tiki-taka from the Welsh they said. Then I started to browse and watch the games, regularly whether on TV or streaming, and started to follow them.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
Not that much. But everyone starts to open their eyes widely now. They start wondering - curious, just like I was before.

Who is your current favourite player?
Monk and Tate.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
We had a fan base, unfortunately they're not as active as before. So I decided to follow some Swansea news such as you [I'm honoured! - Chris] to keep me updated.

Give me an interesting fact about your country! 
Indonesia is a beautiful country with friendly people. Surabaya has a local football club named Persebaya and the supporters are called Bonek (Bondo Nekat / Modal Berani; it means 'with just bravery') and we are the most fanatic here. Also, in Surabaya you will find a lot of good food! Semanggi is one of them.

Leo Howell, 26
Lakeland - Florida, USA

When did you start following Swansea City?
Just before their rise to the Premier League over a year ago.

What made you choose the Swans?
My family is of Welsh descent, and I have been looking to follow an EPL team for a while. I only began to like football later on in life, and had a tough time picking a team. Once Swansea were promoted, I had a team to follow and support (it's tough to follow any non-top flight teams over here due to media coverage).

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
Not at all. I am the only Swansea supporter I know of in the States. [Almost - we actually have a West Coast representative just below!]

Who is your current favourite player?
Neil Taylor, hope he gets well soon!

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
Most of the information I get is from Twitter, following Swansea blogs and news accounts. I watch the games on TV when they're shown, or online when they're not shown on television. I wish I had access to more of the Sky Sports online features, as they seem to show plenty of football.

Give me an interesting fact about your city!
There's nothing too special about Lakeland, except that it is only an hour away from Disney World, Florida.

Jacob Cristobal, 28
Seattle - Washington, USA

When did you start following Swansea City? 
I am a newbie Swansea supporter. Decided a couple months ago they would be the team to support in the Premier League.

What made you choose the Swans?
I was intrigued by Swansea last year. I was always more interested at the clubs that get promoted into the top flight than the mainstays that were in it year in and year out. Maybe it's because of the underdog mentality that comes with the new kids on the block, and I just don't want to see them be one and done. Also, the way Swansea moved the ball in the now famous "Swanselona" style was really something to see and I loved seeing that the big bright lights of the Premier League did not scare them in their first run.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
I honestly don't know. I am sure if they keep up this hot start and continue to roam in the top ten and beyond, people are going to be very aware of what Laudrup and gang are doing. Among the circle of folks I chat with about the beautiful game, there is a general consensus that Swansea City this year could be a serious dark horse. I know a couple people want to see them finish in the top ten and more or less become a new mainstay/gradual power in the Premier League.

Who is your current favourite player?
The easy answer here is Michu. Since week one I've coined the trend (at least I want it to trend) #MICHUMANIA, but just as important to their hot start is Nathan Dyer. It's a toss-up between those two. #MICHUMANIA and #DYERMITE - still in the process of developing Twitter nicknames for the rest of the squad. Oh here's another one #ROWDYRODDYROUTLEDGE.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
Being more or less on the other end of the world, I resort to stream sites. Of course the challenge is the difference in time, which in most cases means having to be awake at 7am. Then there's the special moments of matches at 4am like the West Ham match, complete with one bloodshot eye. There is that badge of honour of waking up early to watch these games and it makes the journey of following the Swans all the better. And if their matches are shown here on ESPN or another sports channel, you can bet I will watch it as well as record it for replay later.

Give me an interesting fact about your city! 
It seems that every so often there's some magazine or poll listing "the best cities to live in/work/most educated people..." and Seattle always seems to rank somewhere in those listings. It's nice, but also kind of annoying because people keep moving here. WE ARE FULL AND SEATTLE IS NOTHING LIKE WHAT YOU SEE IN GREY'S ANATOMY! AND STOP ASKING WHERE FRAISER CRANE LIVES!

[Jacob is also the editor of a great football website and podcast,]

Akshay Mhaskar, 31
Mumbai, India

When did you start following Swansea City?
I've been tracking them since 2005.

What made you choose the Swans?
Since I'm from India, geographically I have no allegiance with any English team. However I am a Man United fan. But my Aunt and Uncle who live in UK, moved to Swansea from Carmarthen in 2004. My Uncle, being an Arsenal fan, used to have banter with me over email all the time. So when he started to go to the Swans games, my interest started growing. Now they've become British citizens so I have family in Swansea and a valid reason to go Swan.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
Umm... not really. In a cricket frenzy country, Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal have been dominant and now, according to worldwide glory hunter trend, Chelsea and anti-Man United fans have sprung up like mushrooms. But since last season, as Swansea games started to reach football fans live, the Swans have quickly become one of the teams to love. Much of that credit goes to English 'Tic Tac Toe', derived from Catalan Tiki Taka. I've been playing my part by making more and more of my friends watch and follow Swansea.

Who is your current favourite player?
I like Ashley Williams and Leon Britton from the current squad but I've been following Michu for a few seasons - he's a top draw wild card.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
ESPN and Star Sports in India show most of the Premier League games live. But if a Swans game is not live then I follow them on a streaming website.

Give me an interesting fact about your country!
Mumbai is the most vibrant city in the continent in terms of mixture of cultures, arts, sports and of course it is famous for the Bollywood. The city is completely sports crazy and it is a mad house.

[Akshay is also a football writer, with a dedicated Swans section on his blog The Bottom Three]

Aussie Jack, 43 (real name withheld)
Sydney, Australia

When did you start following Swansea City? 
In 1977, my Dad took me to see the Swans, Harry Griffiths was manager and the team contained the likes of: Curt, Robbie, Charlo and Wyndham. When we played Spurs in the League Cup I had probably the best view in the house when Tommy Smith gave Ossie Ardiles a welcome to English football. I am not sure but I think Smith wasn't booked for the challenge. Refs were scared of him as well as players. Today he would have gone; it made Chico's violation look rather petty!

What made you choose the Swans?
We actually lived in a Valley between Swansea and Cardiff which was and is a Cardiff stronghold, but I wasn't going to follow them a******s - even at that young tender age I had principles.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
No not really. There is a great market here, it is the fastest growing sport and they follow any team with Aussies. Everton got a lot of mentions when Cahill was in the team. If the Swans gave Kewell a season (this is an example not a suggestion), then the Swans would be big over here. Everton cashed in with a pre-season tour over here two years ago - I'm waiting for the Swans to do the same.

Who is your current favourite player?
Chris Rock, sorry Nathan Dyer - I keep getting them mixed up. Probably one of the most skilful and understated players in the Premier League. I was a big fan of Wayne Routledge last year and I'm glad that he's been given a chance this year.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
Smartphones and apps are brilliant at keeping me up-to-date especially because of the time difference. Evening matches in the UK, I am travelling into the City so I can keep up with scores and I usually get the breaking headlines when most people in the UK are asleep. I watched every game live last year on Foxtel, I didn't miss a minute, but because of the time difference of GMT and daylight saving over here, matches start at 2am. So for nine months I'm like a zombie on Sunday, and if we lose a grumpy zombie.

Give me an interesting fact about your city!
The only difference between one Australian city and the next is the size of the Great White Sharks; apart from that they're all the bloody same! Sydney had one of the biggest gay parades in the world - that is totally unconnected to why I live here.

Daniel James Edwards, 27
Vienna, Austria

When did you start following Swansea City? 
Many, many years ago.

What made you choose the Swans?
They were my local team before I moved to Austria.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
At first, no. When I wore my Swansea shirts people would ask what team they were and which country they came from. Now they are familiar with the team, but not familiar enough to name players. An article was written about them in one of the local football magazines a few months back. They had a four-page spread about the passionate fans and how the club have risen over the years.

Who is your current favourite player?
Toss up between Dyer and Britton. I first saw Dyer the season he came in from Southampton. He looked so good then, and you could see the potential he had. Britton because he's small but fights for the ball like a rottweiler. His influence in play making is something that makes him rise above the rest in his position, especially for his height: small boy, big heart.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
When they were in the Championship it was hard. I could only rely on text/radio commentaries. I rely mainly on sites such as the official Swansea website, Vital Swansea, Twitter, Facebook and Sky Sports. Now that their games are regularly televised, I watch every one.

Give me an interesting fact about your country!
It has the third highest quality of living in Europe. Also, Swansea came to train in an Austrian camp before their maiden season in the Premier League.

Natalie Jenkins, 20
Paris, France

When did you start following Swansea City? 
My dad is Welsh and has been a Swansea supporter since he was a kid, so I began to follow them through him, pretty much as soon as I could walk.

What made you choose the Swans?
As mentioned above, it was kind of a family thing. We're from the area so I guess it just made sense... regardless of where they stood on a league table.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
They've definitely been getting a lot more attention since their move to the Premier League. As of late I've been wearing my jersey out and about and people actually recognize it!

Who is your current favourite player?
Michel Vorm!

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
It's definitely a combination of watching on television and online. I've actually found that Twitter has been the best medium because it's literally an up-to-the-second live commentary.

Give me an interesting fact about your city!
Someone told me this a while ago and I found out later that it's completely true: modern night-time photos of the Eiffel Tower are actually under copyright and aren't legally publishable without the permission of the Tower's operating company (this hasn't stopped me!)


There you go! What a fantastic collection of Swans fans! If you're from another country and support the Swans, get in touch with me and I'll do another of these articles - looking for Jacks from the likes of Russia, Ukraine, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil... anywhere!

Remember you can now follow us on Facebook for updates, photos and chat.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Flying the Swansea City flag at the Wales Blog Awards!

Hi. This is Chris (...Chris Carra) (...the writer of (...yes, that one).

This is a rare non-Swans announcement! ForzaSwansea has been short-listed for Best Sports Blog at the Wales Blog Awards 2012.

It's the third year of the Wales Blog Awards and, on September 20th, a panel of (lovely) expert judges from across Wales will decide if I am worthy of holding the title of Best Sports Blog 2012.

However, you (even lovelier) readers can help me out!

If you've enjoyed reading the blog over the past two years, you can cast a vote for Forza Swansea in the People's Choice Award category. Just click the link below and then click 'Forza Swansea'. It's that simple!

Click HERE to vote (...or here - it's exactly the same link).

While it would be a great personal victory, I am the only blog flying the flag for Swansea City FC at the 2012 awards. Also, the blog celebrates its second birthday on September 19th, so an award would be one hell of a birthday present!

Meanwhile, look out for the new blog post coming on Wednesday - a post featuring Swans fans from across the globe!

Friday 31 August 2012

Swansea City round-up at the end of silly season!

As we head towards the closing of the transfer window, most of us will be religiously checking Twitter, NewsNow and Sky Sports simultaneously, even though the rumour-mill is in overdrive and 80% of what we read will turn out to be nothing of any truth!

Example of the general bollocks we have to put up with!

I don't think there will be much more action for Swansea City in the next few hours. In reality, we've already been spoilt quite a bit this summer and anything we get now will surely be surplus.

So, overlooking the rumours, lets look at the confirmed (or 'most probable') comings and goings of South Wales' favourite football team!

Going, going... still going... probably going... GONE.

The first big mention goes to one of the most significant names Swansea have moulded over the past two seasons: Scott Sinclair. That first season was a dream for him and fans alike, punctuated by the hat-trick in the play-off final. However, since that mental day in London, Sinclair never looked happy at the club.

His departure to Man City is actually fine for Swansea - £8million (or £6.2million plus add-ons) for the winger is, yet again, superb business from Huw Jenkins. But I can't help feel that for Sinclair it's a stupid move. A youngster who spent most of his early career moving from one club to another, until he found his feet at Swansea, where he was the first name on the team sheet during that final Championship season.

Now he's off to Man City - clearly a club oozing with world-class talent and with no obvious need for him. Man City is a club where Sinclair will be lucky to make the bench for most games. So, why is he moving? Money? A whiny girlfriend? Probably a mixture of both. One thing I can guarantee: it's not to further his career. Good luck Sinclair. See you when you're loaned out to QPR a year down the line.

Elsewhere, we've recently said our goodbyes to Andrea Orlandi (to Brighton for an undisclosed fee). While it's refreshing to see a player like Orlandi leave with no long, drawn out negotiations, it seemed a little abrupt as there was some sentimental value with Orlandi.

He had been with the club for about five years, across four different managers. However, he's not done much in the grand scheme of things for Swansea City. I feel he had much more potential than some in midfield and showed sparks of brilliance at times (including his diving header which produced one of the fastest Premier League goal's ever!). Realistically though, he's not achieved that potential and is rightly gone.

Fede Bessone has left to Swindon to vast cries of “I didn't even realise he was still part of the squad!?”. Rodgers dived for ex-Swan Bessone in the 2011 summer transfer window as cover for injured Alan Tate. He wasn't used that much apart from one or two games and a substantial amount of bench-warming. He took wages, played a little for the reserves and ultimately did nothing much for the club. Best wishes Bessone, but please don't return a third time!

The ongoing debate of 'is Stephen Dobbie good enough for the Premier League?' has been solved: he's joining Orlandi at Brighton on a three-year contract. One of those players who never made the step-up to the current level. He'll do well at Brighton, I have no doubts about it!

Others likely to leave, but with no confirmations yet are Leroy Lita, who is rumoured to be loaned out to Crystal Palace, while Garry Monk is set to go to Bristol City on loan (though this is to be delayed for a few weeks after a back injury). Meanwhile, Curtis Obeng is likely to head to Fleetwood Town - again, on loan.

Welcome to Swansea City!

I'm not going to re-mention the likes of Michu, de Guzman and Chico Flores as there is plenty written on them and we've already seen them in action two or three times so far this season. All three are superb signings - let's leave it at that.

A player we will talk about is one of the biggest names of the summer and one who has finally signed - Pablo Hernandez. After much speculation and uncertainty, he's come from Valencia for £5.5million on a three-year deal, linking up again with Laudrup, who managed Hernandez during his time at Getafe. What a good replacement for Sinclair, especially with money left over from his sale!

Maybe having Hernandez is a little rough on Wayne Routledge who has been surprisingly brilliant over the first two games, but wing is one area where Swansea are pretty bare and needed beefing up. Anyway, I'm sure we'll see plenty of rotation and plenty of Routledge as the year goes on - we all know Dyer can tire himself out!

Record signing Ki Sung-Yueng has now played one game for the Swans after coming from Celtic for £5.5million, bringing with him big support from Korea. He'll probably immediately replace Jonathan de Guzman in the centre for now. There's a decent article on another Swans blog, summing up Sung-Yueng, including some words from a Celtic supporter, which is worth checking out.

Elsewhere, Kyle Bartley from Arsenal for around £1million on a three-year deal helps beef up the defence, and Itay Shechter on a season-long loan from Kaiserslautern gives some much needed competition to Danny Graham.

All things considered, I'm sure you'll agree that this has probably been the best summer transfer movement for Swansea in a good while!

As we head into autumn (that's right, all that rain and thunder was actually summer in disguise), Swansea are really looking a solid team, almost unstoppable.

Check out my Swansea vs. Sunderland preview, posted earlier!