Friday 28 June 2013

Jack to a King: Turning Hafod into Hollywood!

We all love movies about the sporting underdog - Moneyball, The Mighty Ducks, Rocky - and we all like movies about Swansea (mainly just Twin Town I guess?).

But now Hollywood are coming to town to combine the two and share Swansea City's emotional story with the world!

Jack to a King is a collaboration between an array of top movie makers including BAFTA award-winning director Marc Evans, Oscar-winning co-producer James Marsh and Swansea legend Mal Pope, who is an executive producer.

The producers are calling on ForzaSwansea readers to help them out and become part of this exciting project. Whether you live in Mumbles or Mumbai this is your chance to share your Swans stories and see your name on the credits of a major movie.

They are looking for photos, video clips and digital film that you may have taken at Swans matches, in any format, no matter how ancient. They need fan footage from the old days at the Vetch to the Liberty days, up to and including the day that Swansea made it into the Premier League.

But it's not just on-pitch action they're after. Send in photos and videos of:

  • banter and chanting in the crowd 
  • yourself meeting players 
  • you and your mates travelling to Swans games 
  • the open-top bus celebrations 
  • or recordings of old radio shows and phone-ins

Visit the official movie website to send in your pictures and footage, or (if you're in Swansea) drop items off in person at the main receptions of the Evening Post, the Liberty Stadium or Swansea Sound.

I'm sure you'll all agree this is a superb project so let's get behind it!

Monday 24 June 2013

Angel Rangel and The Purple Jigsaw

I'm back from Portugal, full of port and cheese, and ready to share my views on the new Swansea City kit (from what we can make of it) and how it's been revealed!

While I was away I noticed a tweet with an attached photo of the new kit. When I clicked on it I believed my phone was playing up as I could only see Angel Rangel's head. However after reading the accompanying article I realised what was happening.

Via the official website, the club have been releasing the image of the new 2013/14 kit piece-by-piece in an attempt to build interest and create a buzz. The club announced on its website that they will be "revealing a section of both kits each day for the next week" with the full unveiling on Friday morning.

I could see this teaser method working to an extent, maybe over a day or two, but by Friday surely everyone will have figured out what the kit looks like? As one tweeter correctly pointed out, the patch on the arm suggests it is likely to be nothing but a slight variation on the new Stoke City away kit. This is because these days, unfortunately, kit designers tend to create a template and use it for a few clubs. (It's hard to criticise Adidas too much after they delivered the superb centenary kit last season).

I could be very wrong and the final square of the picture could shock us all (maybe a watermark of Alan Tate and the F**k Off Cardiff flag), but chances are it will be pretty much as expected.

Whatever happens this is unlikely to deter the army of Jacks from purchasing the new kit. Regardless of the way it's been revealed it is still likely to be well received and will probably sell out much like it did last year.

It just seems it would've been better to reveal the new kit as one massive firework instead of letting off loads of those little ones which everyone eventually gets bored with.

On the subject of kits - and as I've said before I'm no Gok Wan - I'm not sure about a purple Swans away kit. I'd still prefer a classic black kit, or even red like last year. However the purple move does hint that Infiniti, who use purple as their marketing colour, are more than likely the new sponsors. Whatever happens purple has got to be better than orange!

Monday 17 June 2013

If blog posts were Nathan Dyer...

Probably the shortest blog post you will ever see on ForzaSwansea...

I'm away on holiday until Sunday (June 23) so won't be uploading any posts until I'm back.

See you soon!

Thursday 13 June 2013

Swansea's severed ties with Tutu... and Laudrup?

In this short blog post ForzaSwansea editor CHRIS CARRA takes an unsure look at the issues surrounding the ongoing Michael Laudrup saga (...he comes to no concrete conclusions).

Will he won't he? Will he... won't... he...? Yes I'm talking about Michael Laudrup.

Swans fans tried to shrug off the rumours as the post-season began, but things are now sticking and with the ties between the club and Bayram Tutumlu finally severed, it seems Swansea City's managerial future is once again uncertain.

But despite reports of these problems, Laudrup has come out and said, via the Evening Post: " intention is to stay."

Now, in football, those words don't mean that much. Just look at Brendan Rogers and his "Swansea is where my heart is" poetry and you'll know what I mean, but Laudrup seems a little more straight talking. He's made it clear he would leave the club in a few years, but seemed set on staying for a while.

Naturally he is going to be more loyal to his agent of 25 years than a Welsh football club, but he would know he has a lot left to achieve in Swansea.

But what if he does go? Let's take a step back. As Swansea fans we are probably looking at the Dane through glossy eyes - and who can blame us. He took the club to their highest finish since 1982 and won the Capital One Cup in great style. And he's a cool character who we all love to be associated with.

On the "flip-side" as I'm sure the cool kids say, is it the end of the world?

While I've just outlined what a sterling job he has done, the board would look to bring in a manager with a similar philosophy which would suit the players already at the club.

And he wasn't perfect - some could say his epic first half of the season was cancelled out by the concerning second half. I mean, it wasn't cancelled out, but the performances after the Wembley trip left a lot to be desired.

I've started this blog post with no conclusion in mind, so sorry if you were looking for answers - they will be hard to come by and, in this situation, only time will tell. He will either go in the next week or he'll stay for another season.

Stay tuned because we'll bring you all the gossip and speculation (and maybe even a few concrete facts) throughout this interesting summer.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Swansea City's not-so-merry-managerial-go-round!

THE unrest that shrouds Swansea City over the summer is now almost a tradition. In this article ForzaSwansea blogger ALEC JOHNSON takes a look at the current situation and outlines potential Laudrup replacements, should the worst happen.

It’s summer and that means another media assault on Swansea City. Let’s have a look at the facts surrounding the uncertainty within our club.

It is impossible to criticise Huw Jenkins and his team - they have collectively transformed the fortunes of the Swans, risking so much yet remaining private in their ambitions with the beautiful line "it is our duty to the people of the city". You’ve got to love this.

However we do need a summer of love not this perennial challenge of departures and mayhem.

Firstly, I find it strange that the people responsible for player recruitment at the club take holidays the second the season ends. During my days as a football agent I found that May is the second busiest month of the year and requires constant attention. Taking a holiday in late July seems like a sensible option as we always seem to be playing catch up, even though we do it very well.

The statement from Huw Jenkins last week was again very polished and honest, in the face of the media he gets better and better and deserves huge credit. However as a leader of people, running a business with revenues exceeding £70m, surely there is a feeling that relationships should be stronger internally. Successive managers have run for the exit at the first option with Wigan and Leicester hardly being the greatest attractions - deeper relationships create stronger bonds.

Laudrup is also known to be a quiet and infrequent communicator and this had led to recent comments being taken out of context. It is a statement of fact, not opinion, that we need to spend £200m to improve on our position. That is a fact and impossible to disagree with. What Laudrup wasn’t saying was "I need £200m or I’m off" which is the warped interpretation from certain sections of the media. His frustration lies in the pace of the activity to date with a provisional list of five players close to being closed off yet only Canas signing, not the budget.

It’s a risky game delaying closures at this level as little Swansea City cannot compete with three quarters of the clubs in the premier league. Our ‘home bargains’ happy shopper approach - which has served us well - can only go so far under the radar, the key to its success being getting business done early.

In spite of all of this, I do believe that Laudrup will stay for one more season. But, let’s consider plan B as there is deep level of uncertainty from within the club, not just the media onslaught.

Zola is a serious contender and fits the profile but had a rough ride at West Ham - can he cut it at the highest level? I believe so. Would he come here? He’d be mad not to as I cannot see another Premier League club giving him the opportunity anytime soon.

I had the privilege of speaking with Gus Poyet weeks after he was unsuccessful in his previous application at Swansea. His words: "I called my wife and said that I had found a perfect job for this stage in my career and that the Swansea chairman will be easy to work with, only to find out the next day that Sousa had the job". He was genuinely gutted. The reason then and the probable reason in future is that Poyet's family refuse to move outside London and this doesn’t go down well at Swansea. Nor should it.

I have always admired Roberto Di Matteo, a Champions League winner just twelve months ago and now scrapping around for media work. It is considered that a level of personal baggage is attached to this fella and I cannot see any legs in this.

So what about Morten Wieghorst? The second he arrived I tweeted that this is a ready-made replacement for the big man. The feeling is that he is a top class coach and is being groomed for a top job.

Anybody else? Certainly not in this country - previous contenders like Dean Saunders and Paul Tisdale have seen their stock plummet. The only other contender within profile is Eddie Howe, back at Bournemouth and doing magic for a second spell. Surely this is a step too big, too soon but his moment will come.

So, assuming the rottweiler named Bayram Tutumlu [Laudrup's agent] doesn’t get his way none of this will be necessary. Many will say that none of this should have happened if a few people had handled a few matters very differently.

Feel free to vent your feelings on this situation below or tweet @71_alec for a discussion!

Friday 7 June 2013

Swansea City: Kitted Out

IT'S almost time for one of the summer's best moments - the launch of the new Swansea City kit! What will we be wearing next season? Who will we be wearing next season? In this blog post JULES PRICE takes a look at rumours surrounding the new kit and sponsor.

Now that the dust has began to settle on another successful season in the Premier League, attention now turns to the behind-the-scenes work at Swansea City.

While much has been and will be written about the potential new signings, players leaving and the ongoing saga of the relationship between Michael Laudrup and the Board of Directors, I’m equally intrigued by the design of the 2013/14 shirts and club sponsor.

The Swans and current shirt sponsor 32Red came to an amicable agreement to terminate the arrangement early. No doubt the Swans would have compensated the online gambling company, but they (32Red) surely had the agreement of the century!

Just consider the amount the company had paid to the Swans while the club was in the Championship, but of course had since been given global coverage on an unseen level at the Liberty Stadium. Thus, the Swans sought a new partnership that would reflect the level of exposure the club could promise any new suitor as they enter the Europa League

Rumours have circulated it could be Infiniti who are currently a club partner, while the Swansea City Wikipedia page states Nexon as the new sponsor. But Leigh Dineen confirmed to me that the new sponsor isn't a current club partner.

I have heard rumours of Samsung and Black & Decker. The latter seems a little strange to me. The Korean company Samsung would be a potential fit as Swansea’s midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng is worshipped in the country, but they already sponsor Chelsea. What about LG? They previously sponsored Fulham and are always looking to ‘troll’ Samsung.

It does seem the Swans were hoping to tie the shirt sponsor into a stadium naming rights exercise at the same time. This will not be the case. Not for the foreseeable future anyway. The extra naming rights fund would have been used to finance some of the stadium expansion that should have started this month with the creation of a fourth tier in the West Stand. This is not going ahead and the better use of spare communal space in the West Stand will house the media.

Of course, the club shop is being expanded into a ‘superstore’ that will accommodate a record-breaking amount of stock. 55,000 shirts will be available this year. A staggering amount! The lead-time for the club to order the shirt design is nine months from Adidas, and thus they are currently being printed with the new sponsor’s name at the time of writing this article. I believe the shirts should be available during the first two weeks of July.

Finally, I have heard rumours of the Swans considering a second superstore in Cwmdu industrial estate. I haven’t been able to substantiate this, so if you have heard this rumour too I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Swansea City spending: Now is the time!

THERE are big question marks over Laudrup's future because of his urge to spend, spend, spend. In this carefully considered blog post, MATTHEW JACOB outlines why now is probably the best time for Swansea City to back the Dane and move forward.

As is customary at this time of year, the transfer merry-go-round creaks into life bringing with it speculation, intrigue and controversy. It's why we love football isn't it? And we have good reason to be excited by what the summer might bring.

By all accounts Michael Laudrup is planning a busy few months, yet following our final day showing against Fulham I left the Liberty Stadium in melancholy fashion. Yes, it's been a superb year no doubt, and yes I stayed for the well-deserved lap of honour, but having created so many chances during the game and failing to convert a single one, it left a sour taste.

It should have sent a message to everyone at the club that, despite all the success, the squad will require investment to remain competitive in a league where almost every team will be looking to strengthen, namely the sides who had a relegation scare this season, and especially the top six.

So, with Premier League status assured, and European football on offer in SA1 next year, has there ever been a better time for Huw Jenkins and the board to invest some of our hard earned money and bring in the players Laudrup requests to take us to the next level?

There's an argument that Swansea have been in this position before, following the first rise to the top flight. Spending on the squad and bigger contracts inevitably led to the financial meltdown that has defined that fall from grace. Results and poor form played their part but those financial difficulties began a slide that ultimately led to the club being sold for a £1 and being one result away from potential oblivion.

Swansea City came through and Huw Jenkins has always maintained that the club will never ever spend beyond its means again and of course I support that mantra wholeheartedly. For the board, and the fans, the welfare of the club takes precedent above everything, and rightly so.

Despite the need for careful consideration, my feeling is that the board have been presented with a unique opportunity to move Swansea City forward and secure the future of this club not just financially, but professionally in the top flight by acquiring the right players to take us forward. We may never compete for the title (never say never!) and I can't imagine we'll ever have the financial muscle the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea enjoy, yet can we not be ambitious?

With the pull of a footballing legend in Michael Laudrup, the style and quality of the players already here and European football into the bargain, all the ingredients are here for an exciting future. I believe there are a number of real quality players who would be quite willing to come to south Wales for a crack at the 'best' league in the world.

To bring in real quality there comes a cost - it is unavoidable, and what the board and Laudrup do in the next 11 or so weeks before the football season kicks off once more will go a long way to showing us what kind of ambition the board have. Will they choose to back the Great Dane in the transfer market as they allegedly promised to do? Or will they choose to keep a tight hand on the purse strings and hope Laudrup can find another Michu or Chico to push us forward? My hope is that he can spend some money on a couple of his preferred transfer targets AND uncover another gem. It's a lot to ask though

So we may be presented with the choice - move forward or stand still?

I took to Twitter to gauge fan feelings on this and got a fairly mixed response. There were those who want to see us back Laudrup to the hilt, partly because he has earned that backing, partly because they want to see the squad improved, and partly to keep the Dane with us! There were those who urged caution, that we should invest in youth with the hope of building a team for the future from within, and there were those who felt we were only in need of 'one, maybe two' players.

Me personally? I want to see investment in the squad before other plans (such as expanding the stadium) are considered. I'm not suggesting at the expense of the clubs financial stability, but now is our time, and Laudrup deserves the opportunity to build the squad as he sees fit.

Swansea City have worked hard to build a reputation based on style, and for that reputation to be retained along with the club's top flight status we must not neglect substance and strength. They must go hand in hand, and with a gruelling season ahead, I feel we must act quickly to ensure we push on.
Enjoy the summer (if you can)!

Sunday 2 June 2013

A Swan in Seattle: First season triumph!

With the football over, it's our pleasure here at ForzaSwansea to keep you entertained over the summer with some passionate blog posts, like this one from American Swansea City fan JACOB CRISTOBAL. He sums up his first season following the club perfectly!

So, the 2012-13 Premier League season is over. Fergie went out on a high, the hierarchy among the London clubs stayed the same and QPR learned what happened when they embark on a poor man’s Man City spending spree.

But none of that mattered much to me as I was following the journey of Swansea City as they ventured through their second year in the Premier League! What did this American - probably barely qualified to have an opinion on football - learn?

First and foremost, the chatter I saw on my Twitter feed on Saturday mornings was of two things: first, everyone who flashed the crest of the Swans wanted them to pick up three points. That’s a given with any supporter of any club. Jubilation when it happened, frustration when it was anything else.

The second thing was that, much like last season, everyone was just happy to be there. No one has taken the journey for granted, especially since this May the club marked the ten year anniversary of that match against Hull City - of course everyone reading this knows what happened there.

Where the first year in the Prem was all about making sure they didn’t fall flat on their face and avoid being a “one and done,” the second year was showing everyone the first year was not a fluke.

Like everyone else, I fell in love with Michu so there’s not much else to say there that someone else hasn’t. What I wanted to happen and glad it did was that in following the club I got to know the rest of the squad - those that have been there throughout the journey and the fresh blood that Michael Laudrup brought with him.

Without a doubt, my other favourite player on the squad is Ben Davies. Talk about stepping up in a monumental way. I still think he should’ve been nominated for PFA Young Player of the Year over Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck and if Davies carries himself into the next season, he best be on the shortlist or there’s something fundamentally wrong in the voting system.

I just have to say that it’s been a lot of fun following this club, outside of my local Seattle Sounders FC. It wasn’t easy waking up at the crack of dawn every Saturday morning to fire up the computer to tune in, but man was it fun demolishing QPR on opening day, Davies silencing a winger like Nani, Rangel’s humanitarian side and - of course - winning at Wembley.

I think that last one is the highlight that no one in their wildest imagination saw coming this season. I know all I wanted was a finish in the top ten. We got that. Now they’re looking at the summer transfer window for purposes of having enough bodies for the Europa? Wow.
Then again, European competition, top ten finishes, and building a reputation as possibly the next hot/big thing most likely is the culmination of what chairman Huw Jenkins has in mind. Just like the fans I’ve gotten to know across social media and through this outlet, those that run the club are not taking any of this for granted. They’re doing what they can to tell everyone that they are very legit and are here to stay. We all know that the modern game is wide open to the “here take this giant sack of money and win” ideology - yet here are Swansea City, the plucky underdogs that are doing it right.

Interviews from Jenkins and Laudrup confirm that to me. Sure it worries me that the rising stock of the club and their players draw the bigger clubs to try and poach the players, but that’s sports for you. Happens everywhere, like it or not.

At the same time though, it is pretty cool that others are taking notice of what’s going on at Liberty Stadium. I can’t help but find a similarity with how the hometown club Seattle Sounders FC have done it as well. Just like the Swans, they are fairly new to the league, yet they’ve made a whole lot of noise in such a short history. I guess the only thing left is for the two clubs to strike a partnership, resulting in me giddy like a schoolgirl.

I don’t know what will happen next season other than I know it will be something worth remembering. It’s been a lot of fun following this club some 4,600 miles away and the people that have welcomed me into the fold have been some class folks and I hope to have a pint with them soon.

A decade ago, Swansea City were about to fall off the football cliff. Now they’re making plans for European competition. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for those who were at that match against Hull City to be here now. I’m sure there aren’t enough words to describe it, but put a gun to my head and I would say the word that embodies the season was: fun.

Now the club just needs to hurry up and unveil the new kits so I can buy them.