Showing posts with label Elvis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elvis. Show all posts

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Goodbye 2011/12: a brief reflection

From crashing back to reality with the hammering from Man City in August, to the comfortable win over Liverpool on Sunday, it's been one hell of a debut season for Swansea City!

The months since the Premier League new boys walked out at the Etihad have been incredibly memorable. The first win against West Brom; taking points from games against Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea; Alan Tate and his golf buggy; incredible possession stats; and the 3-1 loss to Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup (…yeah, scrap that last one).

This season has shown the world what Swansea City are all about. The pundits and bookies said the club would rejoin Cardiff in the Championship if they tried to replicate the pass-and-move style in the Premier League - how wrong they were.

Over the months we've seen some real talent join the club: Michel Vorm, Wayne Routledge, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Steven Caulker - vital players in the survival campaign. They won't all stay, but they'll be welcomed back any time! Some players joined and didn't make much of an impact, like Josh McEachran and the incredible return of Fede Bessone.

We've also said our goodbyes to some such as Craig Beattie, and two gingers, Ryan Harley and Shaun MacDonald, while Stephen Dobbie made a loan move (again) to Blackpool (again) where he helped them secure a place in the play-off final (again).

Swansea had their ups and downs on the field, from the deserved victories against Man City and Arsenal, to never being able to win against Wolves (even when it looked certain!). Low periods of form did become a worry at times, but the Swans never looked like being dragged into a relegation battle, with 17th being the lowest place all season, after the second game.

Despite that well-deserved win against Liverpool, Swansea ended the season with a poor spell - winning just one in eight and losing four in a row. Had they been a little more clinical in the final third, scoring just one or two goals where it mattered, Swansea could easily have finished in the top ten.

Having said that, finishing too high in the first season might not be desirable as it could set unrealistic ambitions for next time.

No, this season will be remembered as a highly positive campaign. 11th place was more than any of us predicted and to do it in such style and with limited resources has gained the club followers from across the globe.

So, what can we expect next season?

Some are already using the clich├ęd 'second season syndrome' when looking ahead, but this seems to be coming from the same people who said we'd see Elvis sooner than we'd see Swansea survive... and we all know what happened there.

In their 100th season as a football club, Swansea will no longer have the 'new boy' tag and many fans will expect to better the 11th place finish. Maybe a place in Europe? Maybe that's a bit too ambitious for now, especially with a squad lacking depth. I'm sure we'd all take another season of survival!

I will explore the ambitions, targets and how it'll be done over the next few weeks, but for now enjoy the summer Swans fans - you've earned it!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Swansea City vs Liverpool: Farewells from Graceland

It's May already?!

Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that the Premier League had a shiny gloss of untried anticipation about it? Now we're all old pros, having stood face-to-face with the giants, showing planet football that Swansea aren't just making up the numbers.

We've seen so much this season, and I'll capture those memories in an upcoming blog post. But for now it's a look ahead to Swansea's final game: at home to Liverpool.

Brendan Rodgers has already ensured that the stadium will have a party atmosphere about it, with his request for fans to wear Elvis costumes on Sunday. This is, of course, to highlight Swansea's silencing of the critics who said there would be more chance of seeing the fat man (not Michael Chopra...) reappear than Swansea surviving the Premier League.

Though Swansea's dreams of finishing in the top ten have all but gone, along with the other dream of finishing above Liverpool, the most important dream of league survival was the only one that needed to come true. And it did.

So this game shouldn't matter.

But it does. It's the last chance for the East Stand to shout and sing, showing the club their appreciation for the season gone by. It's also the chance for the players to show the fans a final good performance, because the Swans fans really have played that 12th man role all season. Everyone deserves a good game.

Liverpool are eighth in the table after giving Chelsea a good thrashing on Tuesday night, and they have nothing to lose on Sunday either, except dignity; something they have already lost in bucket-loads this season. They'll be coming down to Graceland with intentions to claw a little back, ending their damp season on a high.

I don't expect much in the shape of a team overhaul from Brendan Rodgers – Liverpool are still a good footballing force, so the inclusion of weaker fringe players will probably wait until those pre-season friendlies in America. On Sunday it should be the same eleven we've seen so much of this season. However, I wouldn't mind seeing Orlandi get a run around again, if he can shake off his injury. He intrigued in his last match...

This could also be the last game we see Steven Caulker and Gylfi Sigurdsson in Swansea City white, depending on their intentions during the summer. Hopefully they will stay, but if not this will be their farewell game.

Having a final bet of the season? Put it all on Swansea! 12/5 with the bookies, and well worth a gamble. The Elvis stunt is bound to create a 13th, 14th and 15th man for the Swans, spurring them on for that final win to round off a memorable season.

It's also worth sticking a pound on 4-4. You never know.

I'll be back with my season reviews, player report cards and next season previews over the next few weeks – until then, Forza Swansea!