Thursday 9 May 2013

Swansea City: Nine months later

In a sensible blog post full of frustration and optimism, ForzaSwansea blogger MATTHEW JACOB is using Swansea City's poor end of season form to reflect on how far the club has come in the last nine months.

I'll hold my hands up and admit that in August I was filled with an overwhelming sense of dread.

Brendan Rodgers and three key players in Scott Sinclair, Joe Allen and Steven Caulker had left Swansea City in yet another summer shake up - a shake up that I was convinced would be one too many given the barriers the club had already overcome in the last five seasons. I truly believed that while we had chosen the right man to lead the team forward in Michael Laudrup, we were in for a tough season.

From that opening day crushing of QPR to our Capital One Cup triumph at Wembley, this season has exceeded all of my expectations and the playing squad have excelled.

Until now it seems.

With European football secured against all the odds we now seem to have not just taken our foot off the gas, but turned off the engine altogether. The last few performances, while not lacking in effort, have been well below par and below what we have come to expect from this group of players that are widely regarded as the best the club has ever had. It really does feel like a few of the players have rolled out the beach towels prematurely and accusations that the season ended at Wembley with that cup win. Is that an unfair assumption? From where I'm standing... maybe a little.

Alan Shearer said, after Newcastle's humiliating defeat at the hands of Sunderland, that supporters can accept defeat, but not a team that doesn't try. I believe that rings true of all football fans. Naturally we all crave the buzz of success whether you support Arsenal or Aldershot, but the very least we as supporters expect is that each man who pulls on club colours should give no less than 100%.

Swansea City is a club led by a footballing legend, in its centenary year, that has managed to overcome the odds to win its first major trophy and with it the opportunity of European football next season, and secure the club's Premier League status, so as supporters should we not be delighted with what the club has achieved? Of course we are, and to suggest otherwise would be ridiculous.

Yet the frustration felt by the fans is understandable - one win in eight games is quite frankly appalling form, and had we not done all the hard work early on in the year we could well be scrapping with the Wigans and Aston Villas to avoid being the final team through the relegation trapdoor, but we're not.

We've got the luxury of looking forward to another summer of Premier League football, the excitement of what talents our recently acquired European status might attract, and two derbies against our 'friends' from up the road. That's what's next for Swansea City.

I don't like losing as much as the next Jack, but surely a little bit of perspective is in order here? After all, were we not nominated as one of the favourites (yet again) to be relegated this season? While clubs like QPR were tipped for a top half finish? I wonder what would Rangers fans give to see their club where Swansea City stands now?

The players continue to come out and say they don't want to let this season fizzle out, that they are determined to fight for every win, and I believe them. Actions speak louder than words though and it's time to stand up and be counted.

The likes of Pablo Hernandez and Ki Seung Yeung could win a few people over with a couple of quality performances in our remaining four fixtures and a top half finish would round off what has been a quite superb campaign. They're not the only two who have been off the boil recently, so let's hope they can all finish with a flourish.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to check for cheap flights to Europe...

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