Showing posts with label South Wales derby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Wales derby. Show all posts

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The South Wales Derby Part II - The Monk era

The South Wales derby just got a lot more interesting...

Not that it wasn't interesting before. A match between Swansea City and Cardiff City is always intense and there is so much riding on this for the Swans - but with Garry Monk leading the line it has an additional twist.

If there's ever been a must-win match for Swansea, this is it. A draw won't do and a loss isn't worth thinking about.

Unfortunately for us fans, it's a must-win game for a team that's been so devoid of passion, skill and goals recently. It's not just Chico who's embarrassing - the whole side has been a let down. Arguing, no fight, no organisation, passing for passing's sake and generally looking clueless.

However - things are changing.

Michael Laudrup was sacked for a reason. It's not just down to the last few games as the national media may lead you to believe, it's because of months of lacklustre displays and unrest in the Swansea camp. But as Swans fans you don't need me to tell you this!

The appointment of Garry Monk as temporary manager alongside Alan Curtis will instantly instill some passion - the crucial element in a derby - back into the side. And with the likely addition of Michu (on the bench at least) we are back to an almost full strength squad.

Not to mention the fact that this time it's on our turf. The Liberty Stadium crowd have a vital role to play on Saturday in motivating the team.


We may finally see some passion with Monk in charge

So things are changing for the better and I honestly believe we can and will win on Saturday!

But for this to happen we need concentration from the players. No laughing about and joking in the tunnel or during the warm-ups. It's not about you today, it's about Swansea City winning against our bitter rivals. It's your chance to pay us back for the embarrassing display last time around.

There's no way Cardiff are going to lay down or play for the draw. It's a derby and they will be desperate to embarrass us again and do the double. And they are playing for survival, which is the biggest incentive they need. Cardiff, despite their position, are also now a stronger attacking team with the additions of Kenwyne Jones and Wifried Zaha. It's not going to be an easy game (and that's the only respect I'm giving to Cardiff).

However we have a Wilfried of our own and we hope he can smash a couple in. If there's a match we need him to be on top form in, it's this one!

It's got to be attack, attack, attack for Swansea. It doesn't matter if we have 50 shots, as long as one goes in they will all be worth it. That's why I think Monk should start with a different formation, perhaps 4-4-2.

My adventurous team for Saturday (this is assuming Shelvey is still injured, with Michu on the bench) would be:

Tremmel
Rangel, Amat, Williams, Davies
Dyer, Britton, Pozuelo, Routledge
Bony, N'Gog

That's pretty attacking, but it could pay off. It would be great to see Michu make an appearance instead of N'Gog if fit, and Shelvey instead of Pozuelo. However Britton and Dyer are both must starts (and I'm sure Monk knows it!).

It's going to be tight - a South Wales derby always is. I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be a draw, but Swansea need to pick up points and perform well for the sanity of the fans. So, providing everything goes to plan, my prediction is an exact reverse of the score earlier this season: 1-0 to the Swans.

Come on Swansea!

For some great online odds check out http://www.888sport.com/football/football-betting.htm ahead of the match!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Adopting the Swans!

In my quest to get into an American sport, I've stumbled across the notion of club adoption, where you chose a club to support with no solid ties to the city that the club is based.

Swansea City have been adopted by many people who live far, far away (that's right - even further than Carmarthen) and they all have their reasons for selecting the Swans. But this got me thinking that there may be many more out there searching for their own team to adopt.

Foreign football fans could end up choosing to adopt Barnsley or Preston or (*shudder*) Cardiff, instead of Swansea. So, I've put together a couple of reasons to help persuade potential fans that they should adopt Swansea as their football club!


1) The kit
As a supporter of whatever team you choose to adopt, you will naturally want to get your hands on a replica jersey to show where your loyalties lie and what better kit than that of Swansea City? The joy of the Swansea kit is that it's simple. You just can't go wrong with white (unless you spill Chicken Korma down the front). It's clean, stylish and bold. The away kit is similarly simple, just in black.

If you opt to support a different club, you could end up wearing a disgusting supporters kit. Everton's garish pink away jersey anyone? Fancy slipping on the Arsenal away top, reminiscent of a Girl Guide uniform? Thought not. With Swansea at least you'll look good.

Though in previous years there have been some kit blips (I didn't think much of last season's over complicated design), the current look is hard to dislike. It's a jersey to be proud of!


2) The place
When picking a team to adopt, you have to bare in mind that you might want to, one day, go to watch a live game in the city. Now if you pick Coventry or Hull, you'd have to stay in one of those cities, which can't be good for your well-being. By choosing Swansea City FC you'll have the joy of staying in Wales' best city!

I was about to reel off some reasons why you might want to visit Swansea, but I found that visitswanseabay.com has done a better job than I'd be able to:

Wales' city by the sea has Viking roots and a long, eventful history. Home to innovative visitor attractions and renowned for its awesome night-life, it's a vibrant cultural centre, and a regional shopping hub. Just a stone's throw away, the charismatic seaside village of Mumbles offers galleries and boutiques, snug caf├ęs and fine dining. The Gower Peninsula extends west of Mumbles, in miles of unspoilt coastal panoramas, award-winning golden beaches, and lush, rolling countryside.

See, that was a great description wasn't it? I was just going to mention that we have a Nandos!


3) The rivalries
It's not unheard of for a team to have a rival. The Manchester derby, Merseyside derby, Birmingham derby... all famous in their own rights, but none of these come close to the raw hatred involved when Swansea City play Cardiff City!

Being the only two major league teams in Wales, you'd think the clubs would support one another and try to put Welsh football on the map together wouldn't you? Wrong! The supporters generally can't stand each other, which ensures the South Wales derby is always a highly charged affair!

With Swansea and Cardiff both in the Championship, this derby is played at least twice a season, with added possibility of the teams facing each other in cup matches too. And, with both teams in a position to be promoted to the Premier League, this rivalry could soon be played out on one of the biggest footballing stages in the world!

(By the way, I'm aware that if you choose to adopt Cardiff as your team you would also get the joys of this celebrated derby. But you don't really want to support Cardiff...)


4) The football
Naturally the football is the main reason you are selecting a team to adopt. I could go on and on about the ins and outs of Swansea's footballing philosophy, but I guess you have to watch a couple of games first, to see if the style really suits you!

However I will say this. Swansea play exciting football, which has led to recent comparisons to giants like Arsenal and Chelsea. With up-and-coming youngsters such as Scott Sinclair, speedy wingmen like Nathan Dyer and solid defending from the likes of Tate, Monk and co., Swansea has a lot to offer the football connoisseur! Boredom is rarely a word you associate with the Swans these days.

Of course the club has had their blips and fair share of average matches in the past, but some of the games from this season alone are worth following the Swans for! Recent games such as the 4-3 win away against Middlesbrough after being 3-1 down really shows the fighting spirit the team have. If you love 94th minute winning goals, you'll love watching the Swans!


5) The future
As you read this, things could have changed, but Swansea are currently 5th in a very tight nPower Championship table, just seven points off the top spot. The Swans have been in with a great chance of topping the table over the past weeks, though a few slip-ups have cost them a place or two. However, they're still in a fantastic position to end the season in the automatic promotion places and, with 15 games to go, it wouldn't be impossible to actually win the league (I'll get scorned by many fans now for jinxing it).

Some may call it optimistic, but blips aside, Swansea can play fantastic football and can win most games put in front of them if they keep focused and take things game-by-game. We are in the later stages of the 2010/11 season at the moment and the Swans are looking to gain momentum for the final push to promotion glory. Exciting time to start supporting your new team!


6) Alan Tate
By supporting Swansea City, you have Alan Tate on your side. That should be enough to persuade anyone!

So there we go! 6 good reason to adopt the Swans. We look forward to seeing you at the Liberty Stadium some time in the near future!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Swansea 0 – 1 Cardiff: Just another game...

Well that didn't go as planned, did it!? No sir. In case you didn't see the match, there are plenty of neutral reports out there, so I won't go through it word for word, instead I'll share a couple of my thoughts about the game.

Firstly, Swansea and Cardiff both had the exact same amount of shots on target (3) and off target (6), so the chances were there, it was just finishing them off that Swansea couldn't get right again. Generally the Swans were much better in the second half after a poor start (almost an abysmal start, had Bothroyd's 30 second strike gone in). The truth is Cardiff looked a lot more hungry for this win. It wasn't until Allen and Beattie came on that Swansea started fighting for it.

Luke Moore looked, as he has done since he first pulled on the white shirt, limp and unlikely to score. Some say the occasion got to him, but he didn't look like he wanted a goal. In contrast, Beattie came on and battled for every ball, doing more for the team with his first touch than Moore did all game. I'm not sure why Rodgers insists on playing Moore as a first team player. He has yet to score a goal and goals are what Swansea need. As I mentioned in my previous blog, it almost seems like Swansea are playing with 10 men as the amount of work Moore does is nominal. Maybe Rodgers starts with Moore so often because he bought him and doesn't want to look like he wasted money. I can almost sympathise: I've bought books in the past that looked great in Waterstones, but when I get home and start reading I quickly realise it's not what the cover promised. However I'll keep reading because I don't want to admit I wasted money on a bad judgement. I'm not saying Moore isn't good, but he needs to find his feet soon and start doing what he is paid so handsomely to do; work hard for the team and score some goals!

After the damp start by the Swans and as the first half of a tight game ended, everyone knew the next goal would win the game. It's such a shame that the goal wasn't one of the Scott Sinclair near misses. After his dazzling run up the wing, passing three defenders, two shots went wide. Cardiff responded with a superb strike by Craig Bellamy, one which would win the game. Some may put the goal down to luck, but Cardiff had hit the post twice in the match already, so one was bound to go in! No, Bellamy took a great shot and got a deserved goal for Cardiff. Swansea eventually threw everyone forward, with Ashley Williams playing as a striker for the last five minutes, but to no avail. I guess in a neutrally perfect world, both teams should have walked away with a point – Swansea for their second half display and Cardiff for their desire throughout the match.

A word on the referee. He started out fine, letting the game flow well, however he was unable to stamp his authority as time went on and Cardiff players ran riot. Chopra should have had three yellow cards, but he escaped with little more than a light talking to. A poor display today Mr Halsey – you technically ruined a South Wales derby.

Moving my attention to the supporters who caused the commotion near the halfway line in the East Stand: shame on you. You embarrassed your fellow supporters and caused unnecessary trouble, just because you had a few too many pints. The stewards aren't there to have frustration taken out on them, that is not their job. Taking a swing at a steward (who might well have been a Swansea fan too) is shameful. Cardiff supporters must have loved your tantrum. Stupid.

So to all you true supporters, the ones who hold season tickets or attend whatever games they can, not just because Cardiff are playing “the scum”... I am sorry with the way things turned out today. Just remember: it is only one game. Swansea got the away win in Cardiff last November, so this has just cancelled it out. Disappointing, but it is just one loss. Plenty of the season left to bounce back.

Looking ahead to next week and an away win in Middlesbrough would take some of the sickening sting out of today. But for now, that sting will remain through the night and into a drizzly Monday morning.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Making history! (Swansea vs. Cardiff: Part II)

It's that time of year again. The egg-shaped balls are removed from their storage cupboard, the H-shaped goals are erected and the rhino-shaped players take to the field. It is, of course, Six Nations time. Some would argue the Wales vs. England game is the most important derby in this year's sporting calendar. Wrong.

November doesn't seem that long ago, when I was typing up a blog for the first Swansea vs. Cardiff game this season. Back then, nobody really knew what to expect. The Swans were doing well in the table, but were still unable to find a striker to score goals. Some Jacks were quietly confident of a Swansea win; some were loudly confident. It seems that the confidence paid off with Swansea taking home all three points. So is anyone confident with the Swans' chances of doing the double for the first time ever?

I guess we have to first ask what has changed since that match last year. If nothing has changed then, yes, Swansea will certainly do the double. But it seems things have changed slightly.

When the teams last met, the Swans sat just below Cardiff in the league table. Now, though, they are two places above their rivals and, with the home advantage, they'll go into the match as favourites. Is this a good thing? Being favourites is a mixed blessing. For confidence boosting it is a great title to have, but we've seen Swansea buckle under pressure already this season and there seems to be a little more riding on it this time around. It's the derby with their biggest rivals, there is less than half the season to go and a win is, again, vital. It also takes place in front of a loyal home crowd who will settle for nothing less than a win. Plus they have the chance to make history by doing the double! The expectation will be a heavy test of their coping abilities, but it is something they have to overcome if they stand any chance in the Premier League next season.

Naturally there is so much hype around this fixture, and rightly so, but if we strip this game down to a skeleton of itself, we see the Swans in third position in the table, with fourth and fifth place (Forest and Cardiff) having one or two games in hand. A win could see Swansea back into second, but a loss could take them down to fifth. The team, I'm sure, will all know how much this derby means emotionally, but they also need to remember it is just a game and a game they must win for points to propel them forward as the closing stages of the season approach. The wins are important. I can guarantee you that Cardiff fans won't care that Swansea beat them in November 2010 if they are in the Premier League next season while Swansea remain in the Championship.

So, pressure aside, what else has changed? Well, the squad has developed slightly, but for the better? The Swans have new signings such as Leon Britton and David Edgar to add a little solidity and familiarity, but they have lost Marvin Emnes, the one striker that could actually score! Replacing Emnes is Luke Moore, who is still goalless for the Swans. I know many fans are saying it'll be great for him to get his debut goal against Cardiff, but I can't see it happening. Currently it looks like a Swansea striker will never score again! Goals are coming, but only from midfielders like Pratley and Sinclair. Is this a bad thing? “As long as the goal go in” you may argue. But aren't we missing a trick here? Swansea have a problem if their striker isn't getting goals. He's basically not touching the ball all game, which could be seen as Swansea playing with a man less! Somehow something must change to supply the main striker, be it Moore or Beattie, with more goal-scoring opportunities. It's almost as if Swansea should play a 4-6-0 formation, with no striker, but all midfield players looking for goals.

Despite what I say about strategy, now is not the time to play around with mixing things up. It's best to stick with the tried and tested (4-5-1) for this match, then, if needs be, change things around afterwards. The most likely goals will come from a cross by Dyer or Sinclair, probably netted by Pratley. If I was a betting man (what am I saying? I AM a betting man!), I would put a few pounds on Swansea to win 1-0 with Pratley scoring the goal. At the moment that is a massive 45/1 (PaddyPower) and probably well worth at least a pound!

Cardiff won't be allowing this to happen easily though. They are hungry for this win. More so than Swansea I fear. They were embarrassed on their own turf back in November and now, sitting below the Swans, have less to lose. The problem Swansea face is that Cardiff have a great attack in Jay Bothroyd, Craig Bellamy, John Parkin and, of course, Michael “Dirty Bastard” Chopra. I'm almost jealous of the depth in attack Cardiff possess. Not to worry though: it's about the whole team on the day and if Swansea play like they did in November - keeping the ball and frustrating Cardiff - it's likely that the great attack will be quelled.

Defending will be trickier without Gary Monk, but the back four of Tate, Williams, Rangel and, probably, Edgar should be enough to stop most of the Cardiff attacking moves. If Cardiff are going to score it may come from a set piece like a corner, an area where the Swans have struggled in the past to defend. Stop corners going in and Swansea are probably the most solid defenders in the Championship! Oh, and let's not have any own goals either!

My team to face Cardiff: De Vries, Edgar, Tate, Williams, Rangel; Pratley, Allen, Dobbie, Sinclair, Dyer; Beattie. (Dobbie playing central attacking midfield role).

I am pretty positive that Swansea will go on to win this derby match in front of the home crowd. On the day, if they can supress nerves and emotions and deal with the immense pressure, Swansea are a better team than Cardiff. With both teams on the verge of getting into the Premier League, this could well be the most exciting derby match in history!

Let's do the double! Forza Swansea!