Showing posts with label Swansea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Swansea. Show all posts

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

"And now you're gonna believe us..."


Well it certainly lived up to the hype - a final to remember forever!

For those of you living under a Cardiff-shaped rock for the past 24-hours, Swansea City are in the Premier League after beating Reading 4-2 at Wembley on Monday!

As the teams took to a magnificent Wembley pitch, under the watchful eye of around 86,000 fanatics, everyone will admit that Swansea didn't get off the the dream start.

Reading outplayed them in many aspects, with Dyer and Sinclair struggling to get any meaningful time on the ball, while Alan Tate didn't apply enough pressure to attackers. However, after keeping things level, Swansea took the lead when Sinclair slotted in a penalty on the 21st minute, before adding another goal just a minute later. So after a shaky first quarter, Swansea were well ahead and looked comfortable, playing with their tails up like we have come to expect!

As many of you will know, the travelling supporters were encouraged to begin clapping throughout the 40th minute in memory of Besian Idrizaj. With that in mind it seemed destined that Swansea's third goal would fall on that special minute, thanks to a wonderful volley curled in by Stephan Dobbie – couldn't have written it better myself!

The scenes at half time at the bars were phenomenal; you'd swear Swansea had already lifted the trophy! I guess it was right for the Jacks to be full of confidence and euphoria while enjoying their half-time pint. However, as we took our seats for the second half, the confidence began to dwindle a little as Reading came out swinging.

Playing with a new vigour, they showed why they were also a team just 90 minutes from the Premier League. Their grit was rewarded with two goals in quick succession, both from corners. Joe Allen scored the first (an own goal, though unavoidable really) and the second from the head of Matt Mills.

Panic began to wave through the Swansea crowd, with a lot of the the first-half vocal support turning into silent desperation as the Swans looked to hang on to their once solid lead. Reading almost equalised when Karacan's shot hit the post; a moment where every heart stopped. Superb defending from Garry Monk ensured the resulting rebound was blocked and Alan Tate eventually cleared the ball away from the danger zone.

Had Reading scored then I fear they would've gone on to win it.

Thankfully Fabio Borini was brought down in the box with ten minutes to go, leaving Scott Sinclair to close the door with another well taken penalty.

That was it! Ten minutes later Swansea had won the game! They deserved it! Shouting, chanting, singing, clapping, a trophy, champagne and streamers all followed as Swansea sealed their 2011/12 season in the Premier League.

What a day.

I will have plenty of blogs with previews on next season, so I won't look too far ahead yet; instead I'll have a little look back over a few things that happened.

Credit must go to Reading: the team and the fans. It was a pleasure to enjoy friendly banter before the match with passing Reading fans, with many shaking hands and having photos with Swans supporters. This couldn't have happened if it was Cardiff, so thank you Reading.

The team were also full of quality and I am sure they will have another good chance of promotion next season. Not many teams would have the courage to come back at the Swans like Reading did, so kudos to the Royals.

Back to the Swans. I applaud every player; from Scott Sinclair and his hat-trick to Garry Monk and his game saving tackle. Alan Tate, who I cursed a few times in the opening stages for being too relaxed, made himself very useful throughout, setting up both Dyer and Borini for the penalties. He may not be able to cope as well in the Premier League, but he'll always go down as a Swansea legend no matter what. Thank you Alan Tate!

Stephan Dobbie was outstanding again, creating the second goal by outpacing Ian Harte (not that hard I guess) and also scoring a beautiful goal himself. Williams and Rangel were pretty solid too, with Britton, Allen, Borini, Gower, Dyer and Pratley giving their all. Even Luke Moore looked full of vigour when he came on!

Dorus de Vries couldn't have done much more than he did to stop the two goals going in, and he saved the Swans several more times throughout. What a keeper to have going into the Premier League.

Brendan Rodgers has turned the team around over the last ten months and has been as, if not more, crucial to promotion than the players. He'll be vital in keeping Swansea City up next season.

A final fact that some might have forgotten (thanks to regular reader Joe Tobin for reminding me); 4-2 was the scoreline that kept Swansea in the football league back in 2003 (beating Hull); a game that also saw a hat-trick and two Swansea penalties! Funny how these things all come together...

So that is officially the season over! Swansea City are back in the top tier! Dyer v Ferdinand, Sinclair v Terry, Allen v Gerrard and Tate v Rooney... it's all coming in the next few months!

I'll be back with more Swansea reaction, theories, news and previews very soon, and throughout the summer as things develop – stay tuned!

Forza Swansea!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Wembley

There is little more I can do to hype up Monday. It's a massive game for a team that can do little wrong at the moment!

Swansea City seem destined for the top tier. They've come a long way over the season and they deserve to play with the best. They're liked by all (apart from Cardiff) and play attractive football, with plenty of spirit and they've got to this point by not spending huge amounts on prima donnas and people who don't do anything (apart from Luke Moore...).

I'm very confident for victory on Monday, though I do realise the Swans are in no way invincible.

Despite the fast, possession based passing game, which is clearly working for them and has seen them compared, rightly so, to Barcelona, there are shortcomings. If they were perfect they'd have been automatically promoted weeks ago.

I guess the major problem in the past season was sometimes creating goals from the many, many opportunities they'd make. Thankfully, towards the later stages, with the appearance of Fabio Borini and re-emergence of Stephan Dobbie as a first team player, these opportunities have been converted into goals – the same goes from set pieces, again thanks to Borini and Dobbie's free-kick abilities and Sinclair's accuracy from the spot.

The only real issue Swansea have to deal with, is keeping composed. We've seen it many times: an early goal against them can lead to panic and hurried play, which piles the mistakes on heavier. To succeed they must ensure that the first ten minutes is solid. If it's 0-0 after ten minutes, with everyone getting a touch of the ball, it's Swansea's game to win.

Providing that there isn't a howling error, like an own goal (Williams... Tate...) or a red card (Tate...), I think Swansea have the skill, the will and the legs to win it. We know the pitch size is an advantage to the likes of Dyer and Sinclair, and Swansea will utilise it fully.

The team should pick itself, as usual, with the only uncertainty in the middle three. I think it's safe to say that Leon Britton should start as his performance in the last few games has been outstanding. Adds solidity to the back, very creative and, as we saw last week, can score goals! He's there for me.

Dobbie is next on my list, sitting in that attacking midfield role. We know he scores goals and we know he creates for others. He can take a mean free kick too, and has already won at Wembley with Blackpool last season, so the Scot's experience will be an added bonus.

The final midfield spot, in my opinion, should go to Tommy Butler. Just joking. Give it to Mark Gower, who has shown such an improvement this season, with some solid passing and goals to match. It was tough between Pratley and Gower as Pratley is always a goal threat, but he is a great impact sub to have I guess, when legs get tired. Joe Allen wouldn't make my starting line up – too many mistakes for me, and can get too heated – something the occasion doesn't really need more of. Another fine player for the bench though.

So, with that in mind, my starting line-up for Monday would be:

De Vries
Tate
Monk
Williams
Rangel
Britton
Gower
Dobbie
Dyer
Sinclair
Borini

What a team to put out, compared to one that we might have seen this time last year: containing Kuqi, Pintado and a chunky Lee Trundle.

Despite this being a final, where extra time and penalties would be an acceptable way to win, I feel Swansea will win it in normal time. My prediction is Swansea to win 2-1. Couldn't say who the scorers will be... have to fancy maybe a last goal for Borini, who may be leaving, and Sinclair is always a danger. However, with this current team, anyone is capable of scoring.

I could now move on to the 'what ifs', such as what if Swansea do get to the Premier League? What if they remain in the Championship? Who will leave? But I need topics to blog about for the long, dry summer months, so I'll leave it at that for now.

Credit to Reading, who I haven't yet mentioned. They put Cardiff to bed beautifully last week, and will be a threat all game. Although it would've created travelling issues (and mass violence and arrests), I probably would've preferred to face Cardiff in the final as they would not have been as threatening as Reading.

I'm leaving Swansea about 7:30am on Monday, on a bus with 16 others (split crowd of die-hard, season ticket holders and those who just want a piss-up in London).

Talking about that, I have noticed that, as expected, many people - those who would usually tell me to shut up about football - are clambering to jump on the Swansea City bandwagon. I have mixed feelings about this; in a way it's great that so many will get behind the boys on Monday, but where were these when we played Coventry City last year? Watching X Factor and other bollocks, that's where. Hopefully the Swans will give a good enough performance on Monday to create some more true supporters. It's great to support the team, but do so for every game, not just the big ones.

Check back next week for my reaction, good or bad, to the final and my thoughts on the future. I just want Monday to be over now, so we know one way or the other!

Best of luck to Brendan and his men. It's all come down to this one game and it is yours to win!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Swansea City – 2010/11 Season Review

Bar one very important game, Swansea City's incredibly entertaining Championship season has ended! The date with Reading in the Wembley final is booked for 30th May, where Swansea can seal their next season in the Premier League.

Before that though, it's nice to take a moment and look back on the season just gone - to remind ourselves of the journey the Swans took to get to where they are now: the ups, the downs, the ins and the outs. We may say "Ah yeah, I remember that game!" or "I'd rather forget that one happened..."

So enjoy the forzaswansea.com brief revisit of Swansea City's 2010/11 Season!


- July 2010 (Pre-season) -

After Paulo Sousa scuttles off to Leicester, Swansea City hunt for a new man in charge. Despite nobody knowing much about this chubby little Irishman, Brendan Rodgers is appointed manager.


- August -

Chelsea youngster Scott Sinclair signs for the Swans on a three-year deal.

The 2010/11 season begins and Brendan Rodgers sees his first league game in charge as a 2-0 loss away to Hull. Swans fans panic. The next two games deliver a 3-0 win and a 4-0 win. Panic over, Rodgers is a hero! Swans fans haven't seen this kind of score for too long, after the goal drought the previous season. The next game is an away loss, followed by another two home wins. A pattern is emerging...

End of month position in the table : 12th


- September -

The pattern continues with an away loss to Leeds and another consecutive two home wins. However, the league away curse is broken after a crazy 3-2 win against Watford.

Frank Nouble joins the Swans from West Ham on a three-month loan deal.

End of month position in the table : 8th


- October -

Marvin Emnes joins the Swans on a month's loan from Middlesbrough. Frank Nouble's loan is cut short after an injury, so he returns to West Ham after making little impact in South Wales. Another new(ish) face at the club this month is Kemy Agustien, who finally signed a two-year deal after impressing on trial in the summer.

In the Carling Cup, Swansea lose 2-0 away to Wigan in front of some disgruntled travelling supporters, unhappy with the weakened team Brendan Rodgers chose to field against Roberto Martinez's team.

End of month position in the table : 3rd


- November -

Swansea win the South Wales derby, beating Cardiff 1-0 away from the Liberty thanks to a goal from Marvin Emnes, who left the club later in the month.

Elsewhere Darren Pratley is booed by some Swans fans after refusing to sign a new contract and taking a massive dip in form. Jermaine Easter is signed on loan from MK Dons and is, too, booed by some fans who dislike his Cardiff connection. As you can see, a lot of unnecessary booing took place this month.

End of month position in the table : 3rd


- December -

Swansea go through a rough patch, with many results not going their way, including their biggest defeat of the season (losing 4-0 away to QPR). The booing continues into December.

Christmas time (everyone gets fat and drunk – especially Michael Chopra).

End of month position in the table : 3rd


- January 2011 -

The January transfer window saw plenty ins and outs for the Swans.

Outs: The ever likeable, but not so goal capable, Shefki Kuqi ended his contract by mutual consent, while Gorka Pintado left the club on loan to AEK Larnaca FC (Cyprus). Jermaine Easter returns to MK Dons at their request.

Ins: The departure of three strikers sees Luke Moore join the club, signing on a two-and-a-half year deal for an undisclosed fee (rumoured to be a free transfer). The biggest shock was the re-signing of Leon Britton, who returned to South Wales after leaving the club the previous year. Elsewhere attacking-midfielder Ryan Harley joined the club, though remained at Exeter (on loan) until the end of the season.

Swansea lose 2-1 at home to Leyton Orient, ending any hopes of further progression in the FA Cup.

Demolition on the Vetch field began in this month.

End of month position in the table : 3rd


- February -

David Edgar was apparently re-signed on-loan, though he never actually appeared at the club due to technicalities and little was mentioned of it again. Elsewhere, David Cotterill is sent on loan to Portsmouth, after a dip in form sees him struggle to make the starting line-up (the constant penalty misses didn't help his case).

Swansea were unable to do the league double over Cardiff for this first time, losing 1-0 at home after a late Craig Bellamy goal. February also saw the intense Middlesbrough game, where the Swans eventually came back from a 3-1 almost-certain loss by winning 4-3. Their away form peaked at this point, allowing four wins in a row (home and away) - the biggest winning run of their season.

End of month position in the table : 2nd


- March -

Brendan Rodgers swipes his Chelsea card again and claims Fabio Borini on loan for the remainder of the season. The Italian scores a brace on his debut, casting Luke Moore into the shadows. Tamas Priskin also joins the club on loan from Ipswich.

The international break halts play for a few weeks.

End of month position in the table : 3rd


- April -

A media ban on Swansea players is issued by Huw Jenkins, who wants to focus on winning games. However, Swansea continue with their bad away form, which begins to dent their hopes of automatic promotion – something that looked near certain earlier in the year. However the Swans go on to secure a place in the play-offs after beating Ipswich 4-1.

Tamas Priskin is injured and returns to Ipswich after scoring one goal for the club.

End of month position in the table : 4th


- May -

Swansea play their final league game at home: a routine 4-0 victory against Ipswich, ending the season in 3rd place in the Championship table.

Swansea face 6th place Nottingham Forest in the play-offs.

They draw the away leg 0-0, after Neil Taylor is sent off in the second minute.

The second leg sees a crazy game at the Liberty Stadium, full of entertainment. The Swans eventually beat Nottingham Forest 3-1, including a wonder strike from Leon Britton and a last-gasp goal from the halfway line by Darren Pratley.

Swansea go on to play Reading in the Championship play-off final in Wembley...

...(the Swans will write this next line on Monday 30th!)

Monday, 4 April 2011

Blaming the pitch!

I know all too well how annoying a bad pitch can be, being a keen 'Sunday kick-about on a muddy field' kind of guy, but blaming the pitch quality is no excuse for the way Swansea mentally approached Saturday's disastrous loss against Preston.

I'm not having a go at Brendan Rodgers; after all he has made the club fantastic to support and watch over the last few months, but I did cringe when listening to his hints of groundsman conspiracies after the match. The pitch wasn't the problem I feel. Swansea go into these bottom-of-the-league fixtures seeing the win as 'one in the bag'. I guess with fantastic performances such as the one against Leeds, nobody can blame the Swans for being expected to win. But there is 'expecting to win' by playing good football (no matter how bad the pitch), and then there is turning up with an air of arrogance and expecting the opposition to be terrible, only to find that they are up for a win themselves!

So what happened on Saturday? It seems Swansea did show up with a little arrogance and then paid for it. The media (myself included), the players and the management are all to blame, giving a little too much hype and almost casting Swansea as invincible (with predictions such as 3-0, 4-0 and 5-0 from some). Yes, it was unlucky giving away a penalty in the first few minutes, but you only give away penalties when you let the attacking team get well into your box, something a promotion contender shouldn't be doing against a bottom placed side. As commentators then said “it's only early; there is plenty of time for Swansea to win this”, but the Swans looked increasingly harassed as Preston looked to score a consecutive second and third very soon after.

It is odd that Swansea can literally ruin rival promotion contenders such as Leeds, but then consistently slip up against the likes of Derby, Scunthorpe and Preston. In theory this should be great news for the Norwich game on Saturday. Norwich ruined Scunthorpe 6-0, so the way things are going Swansea will step up their game and beat them 3-0! But winning only the home games in style against big teams and “hoping for the best” while on the road is not a strategy that will get them to the play-offs, let alone the automatic promotion spots. They need to up their away game and go into the smaller games with confidence (not arrogance) if they have any hope of getting to, and surviving in, the Premier League.

So, is now the time to panic? Of course not, there are still 7 games to go. The season is far from over. A win on Saturday against Norwich won't see the Swans back in second – they are just out of reach – but would see them hold onto their auto-promotion dreams. A loss would probably see them drop to fifth, and that's when it would be time to start panicking. Swansea can buckle under pressure, as we've seen, so the pressure of being dangerously close to dropping out of the play-offs may be too much. Look what happened this time last season.

Despite not always showing it on the field, all the players do want to win every game and do want to get promoted, just like the fans, so now is the time to really get behind the team and be the 12th man. The word 'believe' is being throw around quite a bit, and I think it is something we all have to do, though the words 'hope' 'they' 'don't' 'throw' 'it' 'away' are all starting to float around.

It is up to the players now, both old and new, to prove Swansea are a Premier League side.

Monday, 21 March 2011

NEW PODCAST! - "It wouldn't happen in Swansea..." Episode 2

Below you'll find the second episode of It wouldn't happen in Swansea..., the podcast for Swans fans, by Swans fans!

This episode contains a discussion of Swansea's game against Nottingham Forest, the question of who should be dropped now Monk is back, a profile of an ex-Swan, Matt's weekly rant, some non-Swans related stories and, of course, Challenge Matt!

As always your feedback and comments are very much appreciated, we are still pretty new to this and a little rough around the edges, but can only get better (hopefully)!

Thanks to everybody who has contributed with questions and comments!

Enjoy!


It wouldn't happen in Swansea - Podcast - Episode 2 by ChrisCarra

Monday, 7 March 2011

Bite-size Blog: Swansea vs Watford

Summing up the Scunthorpe match
On a pitch that looked very unplayable, it was the poorer side that got the luck. I guess, like many Swans fans have admitted, Alan Tate was due to give away a penalty after a couple of recent lucky escapes. Things even themselves out I guess! Definitely a blow to their confidence, but not to their promotion hopes. Many are talking about “bouncbackability” but I don't feel the Swans really need to “bounce back”. It's not like they have had a torrid run and need a big swing in luck to win tomorrow; it was just our old friend 'the blip'.

vs. Watford
I'm going to be careful here because whenever I say “I can't see the Swans walking away with less than three points”, I almost certainly get it wrong! But, as discussed, the Scunthorpe game was played on a poor pitch and away, so getting back to a beautifully kept Liberty Stadium, in front of a home crowd, the Swans will certainly be favourites to win the game against Watford.

Currently 12th in the Championship, The Hornets current form isn't spectacular. Though they beat Millwall on the weekend, they lost / drew the last five before that. Now being 12th in the table isn't much for them to get excited about, but in this very close league a win would take them to 53 points which is where Burnley are now, in 7th. With 12 games left to play, there is still plenty time for Watford to climb into the play-off places, so they will not want to lose this. I expect a low scoring game, with Watford defending as much as possible.

Then again, last time these two met was a thrilling (for all the wrong reasons) game (my report is worth reading again!), with the Swans claiming a 3-2 victory after almost gifting Watford a draw. However, Swansea have developed so much as a team since then, a repeat is unlikely.

Betting on the match?
If you have been following my predictions... sorry. I haven't been extremely reliable in the last few games have I? As I said, a low scoring game is what I am expecting so maybe a “under 2.5 goals” bet is worth while. Score? I am going for 1-0 to the Swans, with Moore or Sinclair to get the winner.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Swansea vs. Scunthorpe - I can't think of a better title...

Firstly, thanks to those who contributed to the podcast idea. Despite some complications resulting in the podcast having to come offline, a new one will be up soon! Definitely stay tuned.

Tomorrow we'll see Swansea on stage up in the sunny Scunthorpe! Like the majority of supporters (and non-supporters alike), I think I am not too forward in saying “I can't see Swansea losing”. They're in great form, great spirit and a great table position, so if we can't be confident now, when can we be?

Brendan Rodgers has made manager of the month, a superb achievement. It's a feat I can't even achieve in FIFA 11's Manager Mode, so to win it for real just shows how far he has come in his short time with the Swans! With such a confident squad and manager, it is impossible for Swansea to lose tomorrow.

But I've said this before and have been very wrong!

We know all too well that the Swans can shoot themselves in the foot eleven times over by going into a match looking too far ahead of the game in front of them. Scunthorpe is another must win game and it'll be no good imagining the Premier League if they can't beat a poor Scunthorpe side. These days even a draw isn't that reassuring in an ever changing top 6 of the table. In fact a loss tomorrow could see Swansea, theoretically at least, drop back down to fourth (this is a worst case scenario by the way). A win though, would keep them in the automatic promotion spot, where they, lets face it, deserve to be.

Betting on the game?

I seem to have started offering betting tips in my blogs recently, which is odd considering I am usually way off! But I'm predicting a 2-0 victory to the Swans. I know its an away game and who knows, Scunthorpe may well grab a home goal for the fans to cheer at, but they are struggling in 22nd at the moment and have lost more Championship matches than any other club (20) and failed to score in the most (16) (thanks to the BBC for those wonderful stats!).

But who will score? Well thankfully many are sticking their hand up for the Swans and even Luke Moore now has two goals. I'd say Moore, Sinclair and Dobbie all have another goal in them this match, though with Dyer and Pratley around and with Williams capable of getting decent contact on the ball from corners, a “first goalscorer bet” may be a bit pointless – it's hard to predict these days!

I'm actually in Rugby tomorrow (the place, not at the rugby, like I've had to explain to my dad twenty times this week), which is closer to Scunthorpe than Swansea, but I'm unable to travel further to make the game. I'll be checking in on my numerous iPhone apps to see how the Swans are playing minute-by-minute, though I have no major worries that all three points will be coming home with them.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Setting the record straight!

As I settled down with my beer and film last night, my phone buzzed to inform me of a new Twitter message. With horror I noticed a few more messages all asking me the same question: why I thought Swansea had performed so badly?

So, to instantly set the record straight, I didn't think they performed badly at all, in fact quite the opposite. I had Tweeted:

Great result for Swansea, 3-0! Goal for Luke Moore, glossed another poor performance, but hopefully this is a confidence booster!

I think I should have said: "Goal for Luke Moore, glossed another poor performance from him." It seemed to annoy a few people that I was being so negative about the Swans, when, in fact, I wasn't at all. I guess that's what I get for Tweeting while trying to edge my way through traffic on Neath Road!

With my name cleared, I can move onto yesterday's game, and I might as well start with Luke Moore. He isn't a bad player. I very much doubt Brendan Rodgers would spend that much money on a bad player. What he currently is, though, is a mediocre player. He scored his long-awaited first goal yesterday, which I am thrilled about, but it did gloss another average performance. It's his lack of effort that I find brings him down in my eyes. A couple of times in yesterday's game he could have been through on goal if he chased a slightly loose ball or looked up more to see what was going on around him. In other clubs maybe he was given shooting opportunities on a plate, but with Swansea it seems like goals need to be fought for! Hopefully the whole Luke Moore saga is put to bed now, as I hope he will get a couple more goals (as a striker should!) in the next few games due to a higher confidence level.

Elsewhere, as I've said, Swansea were pretty flawless. I noticed some amazing linking up from Dyer, Rangel and Dobbie, creating havoc on the right wing. If Dyer was running up the wing, Rangel was his option ahead, though he also had Dobbie running inside him. It was a perfect attacking triangle, and one which Doncaster didn't have a clue how to defend.

The re-inclusion of Neil Taylor added speed and support to Scott Sinclair on the left wing, giving another platform for goal-scoring opportunities to be made. Richards and, to a lesser extent, Alfei, made some great progress in the first team, but Taylor is the player who will suit Swansea's style more in the remainder of the season.

Tactically, I have to talk about the cross field passes from Williams and Tate. Dyer, who was rarely marked it appeared, could slip in behind the defence while Williams hammered a long ball up to him, cutting out any midfield play and creating an instant crossing opportunity from nothing! Tate also managed to successfully do the same to his opposite wing, Sinclair, where similar chances were created.

A mention for Man of the Match, Stephen Dobbie – a great performance by the creative midfielder, giving options to Dyer and Sinclair in the centre of the park and fighting for the win. He hasn't been played enough this season, so hopefully yesterday's performance shows the management that he is worth fitting in!

And finally, kudos to Mr Miller, who refereed the game well for a change. Used common sense to let the game flow. An example of this was when both Dyer and a Doncaster defender went down injured. Both physios came on to treat the players, but, instead of having the players leave the pitch to be later called back on, Miller let them both stay on. No yellow cards either, though that is also down to the players, from both clubs, playing some good, fair football. For a team that had zero shots on or off-target, Doncaster didn't get frustrated and start hacking away. I applaud them for that. And the drummer who kept it up all game.

It's all coming together now, isn't it Swansea! Another few games like that...

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!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Bite-size Blog: Swansea vs. Middlesbrough

Even though the Cardiff game may still hurt a little, the Swans know a win tomorrow against Middlesbrough (3pm, Riverside Stadium) would cure any remaining derby hangover.

Boro are sitting in 19th position in the Championship table and are a team the Swans should beat if they plan to go on and achieve promotion glory. They may not be able to do the double over Cardiff, but Middlesbrough should prove an easier test. Doing the double over Middlesbrough, much like the South Wales derby last week, would also be making history as neither side has ever done the double over each other since they first met in 1925. It just doesn't have the same ring to it as "double over Cardiff" does. Never mind.

The starting eleven should pretty much be the same as that of the Cardiff match, but with Edgar replacing Richards in the back four. Elsewhere, Luke Moore needs a break. Not because he has worked too hard, but because he has done nothing for the squad recently. He is now officially a striker who does not score goals. This isn't unheard of with Swansea as most goals come from midfielders, but at least with Dobbie and Beattie they work hard and look like they want to score. Moore has recently looked lazy and slow, always two moves behind everyone else. I think a game where he isn't played would be wise, just to remind him that he will not always make the starting eleven unless he starts putting a little more effort in. Trust me, now I've said this he will go on to score three tomorrow!

Betting on the match?

Here are some odds for you to check out. Firstly, I was just joking with the Luke Moore hat-trick – I can't see him scoring that many this season, let alone in one game. The odds for this occurrence are 80/1, so I wouldn't waste your money. If you like big odds, I feel the usual “1-0 win to Swansea, with Pratley scoring the goal” is worth a pound, at 50/1. Ex-Swans loanee Marvin Emnes to score first is 13/2 and, knowing Swansea's luck, would also be worth putting a pound on (just in case)!

So this ends my first bite-size blog. Very brief wasn't it? Enjoy tomorrow's match, whether you're travelling up or sitting on the sofa avoiding the rugby. Swansea need this victory to get back in the race for automatic promotion, and maybe just a little to give the fans something to cheer for! So here's to three points (... to the Swans. Obviously)!

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!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

With a bit of luck!

In case you somehow missed it, Swansea are out of the FA Cup after losing 2-1 to Leyton Orient. But what happened? I was at the match, throwing my hands into the air as Alan Tate's goal went in. It was an own goal though, and my hand throwing was not in celebration.

As has been the case for the last few games, optimism before the match was high, with my own prediction a comfortable 2-0 to the Swans, though many other fans had ideas of 4-0 or 5-0 victories. And why not? Swansea are around 30 or so places above Leyton Orient in the league (if the leagues all rolled into one), so it should be a straightforward victory. How wrong we were again.

Though many will argue the team Swansea played was essentially a second string side, it quite clearly wasn't. Williams, Tate, Allen, Moore, Sinclair, Orlandi – these are all first team players! The likes of Alfei, van der Gun and MaKalambay were the only real “second team” players on the pitch, with the rest making several league starts this season. Not reassuring.

Leyton Orient weren't that convincing either, and showed why they are a League One side, but they won because they were able to make something out of the few opportunities they had. Still, their counter-attack was slow and their defending allowed Swansea ample opportunity in front of goal. Unfortunately, as has been the running story, they couldn't do much with their time in the box. Swansea have been able to win games in the past, despite not taking all their opportunities, so what went so wrong on Saturday?

Orient's first goal was thanks to poor goalkeeping. MaKalambay doesn't ooze confidence, and this game showed why he will always be on the bench while De Vries is still capable. He looked nervous when it came to corners (the first goal proved this) and uncomfortable when dealing with some clearances. In my eyes he was the weakest link yesterday. Generally the rest of the team played fine for the most part, keeping possession and moving the ball well up the field.

So if they played well, why did they not win 4-0? Sadly, it's the same old story. They can string together fifty passes, but when it comes to shooting they just don't do it. Kemy Agustien tried to prove me wrong, with a number of shots, but when these are just drilled at the defence, there is little point to them. Luke Moore, again, didn't score, but its no wonder as he just seems so isolated at times. I don't think I clocked that he way playing until about half an hour into the match - very invisible.

Teams can play as well as they can, but without a little luck the result won't always favour their performance. It seems luck was not of the side of the Swans on Saturday. Darren Pratley's 'goal' was unlucky not to be given after being deemed offside, though was that bad luck? Did he actually need to be there? The goal may have gone in without his interception, but I guess he wasn't to know that. If that had been a goal, Orient would have been hard pushed to find an equaliser, so it was an unlucky moment in the match, which could have seen the Swans in the next round.

On the subject of luck, I will, naturally, have to mention Swansea's gift to Orient of an own-goal hand-delivered by Alan Tate. I've always thought Tate deserves his place in the squad but after yesterday... I still do! You can't really blame him as, though he did ultimately lose the match for the team, it was clearly an unlucky slice that went wrong. He doesn't score own goals that often so we can forgive him. Those who are unable to forgive him need to look at what he has done for the team in the past.

So all credit to Leyton Orient who deserved to win, despite being the poorer side. Swansea had their opportunities and didn't take them. Orient will now play Arsenal at home in the next round. Some may think: “bugger, that could've been Arsenal down the Liberty”, although, as many have pointed out, with Swansea's luck they probably would have drawn Crawley Town. Away.

So the Swans bow out of the second cup this season. I guess it's good because they can now concentrate on the league? Still, wouldn't it have been nice to see the Swans lift the Championship trophy and the FA Cup? Other teams have done the double before, why not Swansea? I guess we won't find out until next year if this is possible. Swansea winning the Premier League and the FA Cup next season! Now I wonder what the odds of that happening are if the original odds for Swansea to win the FA Cup this year were 150/1!

I guess a bit of good luck and it could happen.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Barnsley and Britton (a lazy title)

I hope the videos from my last blog were to everyone's liking, but now it's time to get some of my vague text-based thoughts back out there!

As many fans, I wasn't at the Barnsley game on Saturday, though I did listen online where it's sometimes hard to visualise the game. It was easy, though, to understand that Swansea were an immediate mess. I don't know if I am a jinx, but the moment I managed to finally tune into the radio coverage, Barnsley scored. I like to think this is a coincidence, but it's happened too many times for me to let it go unnoticed!

Anyway, Barnsley's early goal proved that the confidence of victory before the match was unrealistically high from the fans. Even I, a well known pessimist, predicted a comfortable 2-1 win to the Swans. Some were throwing 3 or 4 nil victories around, but were quickly realising their mistakes. We should all know by now: if Swansea have the chance to go joint top of the table, they won't take it!

This match was a good example of the games that they should be winning. Mid-table sides shouldn't really pose much of a threat to the potential champions of the league. Barnsley were 16th in the table where Swansea were just one from the top. Now the Swans have dropped back down to 4th. However I think it's safe to put this down to a one-off bad day. Alarm bells shouldn't be ringing because there's plenty of time to go until the final push, so 4th in the table is not that bad.

But it could have been so much better.

An inspired Stephen Dobbie was the saviour of Swansea, sparking some much needed creativity in that attacking midfield position, though it was Sinclair who eventually went down in the box and won the penalty. Though it did gloss the overall performance, the goal and the point were deserved of Swansea's last fifteen minute of football. I am speaking like the Swans lost, but it did feel like a bit of a loss, didn't it? As we've seen numerous times before they left it until the last few minutes to turn up the heat, where, had they done this twenty minutes earlier or, dare I say it, from the start of the game, it would have been a certain win. Disappointing, but true.

Putting that game aside, I haven't really commented on the Leon Britton situation. He obviously, as he admitted himself, made a mistake leaving the club, but the reasons were understandable (Sousa playing a big part). Britton is a fan favourite and a good midfielder, so the move isn't as odd as it first seemed. He did play on Saturday, but somehow I missed when he was subbed on and didn't hear much about him in the last fifteen minutes. He won't feature against Leyton Orient as he is cup tied, but it would be a good to see more of him against Bristol a few days later.

The only other issue to address is the signing of Ryan Harly. Initially I was dubious, thinking the signing of another midfielder was just adding unnecessary wage payouts to the side, but when I realised he was heading back to Exeter until the end of the season it seemed a better plan.

Though he doesn't have a great goal scoring record (22 in 118 appearances for Exeter) he is a creative play-maker, something Swansea always need plenty of. If he can create goals for the strikers that's all anyone should care about. I'd rather no midfielder ever score, but consistently set up goals for the strikers. Harley will be a good option if/when players like Pratley and Cotterill leave in the summer.

So a week off for the Swans before their home cup fixture against Leyton Orient on Saturday, before travelling to across the border for the Bristol City game the Tuesday after. Both important games, though victory in the League fixture is more vital than the cup match; that would just be a bonus. Neither games are as big as the one the week after: The South Wales derby Part II...

But that's another blog.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Something different: Swans on film!

I'm taking a little break from the ordinary text-based blog to bring you some of the best Swansea City related videos on the net. Most of my weekend was spent drinking wine and sifting through YouTube.com, where I eventually narrowed down my favourites to the five you are about to watch. These are in no particular order (though, in my opinion, I have saved the best for last), so take a break from your day and enjoy!

(NB: I didn't film, edit or upload any of these videos and am not the owner, neither do I own any of the music - no copyright infringement intended!)

1) The South Wales derby - "A Tale of Two Cities"
I remembered this as soon as I decided to do a video based blog: the montage that started the BBC's coverage of the South Wales derby last November (you all remember that game surely). Sometimes these promo films can be a little cringe-worthy, but this really captures the rivalry between these two cities. Gives you goosebumps if you are in the right mood!




2) Last game at the Vetch
A tribute to the Vetch field couldn't be left out! There were, to my surprise, hundreds of Vetch videos, all with different themes, but I've decided to include this one: the final league game against Shrewsbury town in April 2005. Clear blue sky, everyone singing, football about to kick off - perfect! Not much happens in the video, but should evoke some feelings of nostalgia!




3) Lee Trundle: Magic Man
If I didn't include a Lee Trundle video in this blog, I'd be missing out on some entertaining stuff. Swansea's answer to Ronaldo (the Portuguese one, not the fat Brazilian), Trundle's trickery and show-boating made him a fan favourite. Fair enough, Trundle didn't have the greatest final season with the Swans - almost a shadow of his former self - but he will always be remembered for the kind of skill this video collates.




4) Swansea's first season back in the Championship
This is a selection of moments from Swansea's first season back in the Championship after being promoted from League One in 2008 and contains goals from Ferrie Bodde and Jason Scotland, as well as the Darren Pratley "Swim Away" celebration vs. Cardiff, all set to epic battle music. It's recent history and foundations to where we are now - on the brink of Premier League football once again: the only way is up!




5) Swans fan scores at Anfield
I've used this video in a previous blog, but still can't watch it without laughing. Taken during the 8-0 loss to Liverpool in 1990, a Swans fan, "Ciro", jumps over the barrier and proceeds to score a goal (I absolutely love the fans reaction as hammers the ball in). "Ciro" then runs around the pitch, avoiding pouncing stewards, much to the joy of travelling Jacks and Liverpool fans alike! A perfect video to show that, even when the Swans are 8-0 down, Jacks can still have a good time!




Naturally there are other videos out there that didn't make the top five, but if you have any suggestions for those that I may have missed, leave links below in the comments box (you no longer have to sign in - anonymous comments welcome) and I'll check them out. If I get enough I'll make another video based blog later in the year!