Showing posts with label Tate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tate. Show all posts

Friday, 5 June 2015

Tate and Britton - Ending An Era

The summer is the season of change when it comes to football.

And watching two players leave Swansea City after over a decade of uninterrupted service is certainly change in its rawest form.

First, Alan Tate. Last week we saw the departure of the Swansea stalwart, who left the club in a move that seemed to be in the pipeline for quite some time.

Disappointing as it was, it came as no shock - Tate never really made the step up to the Premier League, not helped by his broken leg in the first season, and had spent more time out on loan than at Swansea in the past four years. (For more on Alan Tate, check out my tribute to him from October 2014.)

Things were different back in 2011 (Image: Action Images)

The biggest shock of the week came from a brutally honest interview with Leon Britton, in which the talismanic midfielder admitted he too was considering a move elsewhere if Swansea couldn't offer him first team football next season.

Of course, the reason why this grates more on fans is because, unlike Tate, Britton not only made the giant step up to the Premier League, he excelled in it. Remember January 2012, when statistics suggested that he was the best passer in Europe? But you don't even need statistics to see that he was one of the key men for Swansea.

Yes, Britton truly owned the centre of the pitch and was rightly one of the first names on the team sheet for so long.

However the recent 2014/15 season was hugely frustrating for the stalwart, who was forced to watch his talented team mates - Ki Sung Yueng, Jack Cork and Jonjo Shelvey - consistently picked before him, even when he was fully fit.

A few months ago Swans fans had a feeling that something wasn't right. And they were correct. No matter how much he loves the club, you could sense that Britton had probably had enough.

But we have to applaud his decision if he does decide to go. In his own words:

'I am not someone who will be happy to play every couple of months or whatever and then pick up my money.' 

Many players would be content to fester away on the bench; enjoying a large payday come the end of the month for doing absolutely nothing.

The right kind of footballer, Britton wants to play on a regular basis and if that means ending nearly 13 years at the club he loves, then we have to accept that.

If he does go - possibly to another Premier League side, the Championship or even America - we can always hope he'll return to Swansea as a coach later down the line. The other option, which hasn't been discussed much (at least not in public) is to loan him out. That way he technically never has to leave!

But whatever happens, even if this is the end of his playing career with Swansea, I'm sure that we haven't seen the last of Leon Britton.


Sunday, 3 May 2015

Cup o' coffee and the Swans (Sunday Catch-up - 3rd May 2015)

**UPDATE FOR SUNDAY 10 MAY**  Sorry, there's no catch-up today as I've been busy this week finalising my second Swansea City book, which will be out in September! However, I promise to have a nostalgia piece up next week. Enjoy your Sunday and see you soon, Chris


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I've missed the last two weeks of Sunday catch-ups, but I hope you were still drinking your coffee without me. I did post a couple of other articles during the week, including a nice one from Alec Johnson on why Swansea need to set their sights on cups instead of top of the league next season.

But now let's see what we can catch-up with this week:


Swansea City 2 - 0 Stoke City

So we're into May - that season went quite quickly! And kicking off the final month, Swansea beat Stoke 2-0 in their penultimate home game.

After a pretty forgettable first half, the game livened up soon after the break, as did the crowd at the Liberty. And although more chances were being created, a 0-0 still seemed on the cards - until 15 minutes remaining when, after some hard work to get to Nathan Dyer's poorly placed pass, Jonjo Shelvey chipped in a cross for Jefferson Montero to head home - his first Swansea City goal.

Stoke were reduced to ten men when Marc Wilson was rightly shown a second yellow for blatantly hacking down the breakaway Montero, before second-half sub Ki Sung Yueng slotted in his eighth goal for the club in the first minute of injury time.

The two goal win takes the Swans to 53 points and extends their lead in eighth place (with Stoke now six points behind in ninth). A great start to the final month of the season.



Pre-season tour announced

Heading back to the States!

This summer, the Swans will once again head off to America as part of their pre-season tour, where they will take part in a mini tournament in Texas in mid-July. I know there are many Texas-based Swans fans who will be celebrating this news, having the chance to see the club play on their doorstep.

It seems Swansea will take on both Malaga and Mexican top flight side Pachuca in their 'group' games, before playing either Newcastle, Lyon or Moroccan outfit Raja Casablanca afterwards. The first two Swans' games are currently scheduled for July 14th and 16th, although stay tuned for changes.


Loan watch

Let's briefly look at those players out on loan and how they are doing now the season is coming to an end.

Firstly - as you've probably guessed considering he made a late appearance for Swansea yesterday - young Modou Barrow is back from his time with Nottingham Forest, having made four appearances for the mid-table Championship side.

After his poor debut, Dwight Tiendalli remained with Middlesbrough and played just one more game, bringing his total to two. He didn't impress fans with his shaky performances, and I can't see Boro trying to keep hold of him somehow.

Elsewhere Swansea's young Irish striker Rory Donnelly made quite an impact with Tranmere Rovers, scoring five goals in 20 games and was even named Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month back in January.

Michu is still with Napoli, but rumours suggest he'd be happy to return to Swansea having had an awful time with the Serie A giants. Jazz Richards' one month loan at Fulham was extended to the end of the season - he made 14 appearances for the Championship club since joining at the end of January.

And finally club stalwart Alan Tate is still with Crewe Alexandra, having made 26 appearances with the League One Railwaymen since joining at the start of the season.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

True Grit: The Alan Tate story

I was originally going to write a poem or something to express my admiration for one of my favourite Swansea City players, but I decided that poetry was not the right way to go about it...

However, I do feel it's time to write a little something on one man who truly embodies the spirit of Swansea City - Alan Tate.

We all dream...

That's right, it's sometimes easy to forget about Tate. And although we no longer see him on the field, on the bench or in the media, he is still a Swansea City player, on paper and in heart, as he has been for the past 12 years.

We can also forgive some of the newer Swans fans for not really knowing much about him as it's been some time since he last took to the pitch wearing the white shirt of Swansea City.

Born in County Durham in 1982, Tate joined Manchester United as a youngster, eventually finding himself on loan with Brian Flynn's struggling Swansea City in 2002. He played his part in the football league survival match against Hull City in May 2003 before rejoining the Swans permanently in February 2004 (after another successful loan spell in between).

A gritty, tough and versatile defender, Tate became a true fan favourite during his time with Swansea. From 2004 he was a staple of the first team, playing in his fair share of important games such as the Football League Trophy Final match against Carlisle in 2006. At the end of the game both him and Lee Trundle cemented their place in Swansea City folklore with the now iconic 'F**k off Cardiff' flag incident.

Forever loved in Swansea, forever hated in Cardiff

Tate also captained the team at times as the Swans made their way from League Two to the Championship and, even though he began featuring less and less under Brendan Rodgers, he was called into action for two of the Swans' most important ever games during the Championship play-off matches 2011 - solid against both Nottingham Forest in the semi and Reading in the glamorous Wembley final.

But his time in the Premier League never really came. Of course he played a handful of matches under Rodgers and was even given a brief cameo against his former side at Old Trafford in May 2012, but he was one player who - for all his grit, determination and club pride - could not make the step up.

After falling out with Michael Laudrup, Tate has since played out on loan at Leeds United, Yeovil Town, Aberdeen and Crewe Alexandra. But he remains a Swansea City player, for now at least.

So where does his future lie?

While it's a sad statement to make, it's safe to say that his playing days with Swansea are pretty much over. However, with his old mate Garry Monk currently steering the ship, Tate may find his way back to prominence with a coaching role. And I'm sure that would be a decision that 99% of Swans fans would be happy to back.

In 2013 the club planned a testimonial match against Manchester United to celebrate Tate's decade of hard work, but unfortunately this failed to materialise due to conflicting Premier League fixtures. The testimonial match is currently postponed, with no new date as yet.

Whatever happens, Tate deserves a testimonial, whether it's this year (his actual 10 year anniversary of joining Swansea permanently) or next. He definitely deserves it.

Once a Jack, always a Jack.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Swans On Film: "Alan Tate scores a stunner"

He scores when he wants! He scores when he waaaaants... Alan Tate, he scores when he wants!

This one's a real blast from the past - Swansea City legend Alan Tate scores a superb volley in the 1-1 draw against Tranmere Rovers in March 2008, when the Swans were back in League One.

Take note Vazquez!




Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Beware: The Curse of Swansea City

Danny Graham is the central figure in the current 'I want to leave Swansea City' rumours. Though nothing is confirmed, he's clearly not happy starting behind Michu every week and it looks like he wants out.

In Laudrup's defence, Graham hasn't particularly wowed recently.
In Graham's defence, he is a footballer who wants to play football (we assume).

Can we blame him? If he really wants to play, maybe Swansea isn't the best bet for him at the moment. Then again he may just want to go for the money, like so many others have done in recent years. But be warned Graham - bad things tend to happen to those who leave Swansea, especially for the money.

To commemorate this event, and the closing of the transfer window, I'm dedicating a blog post to look at some victims of the satisfying curse:

Scott Sinclair
This is the best one for me. Greed and nothing more led him away from Swansea City. Sinclair clearly had visions off knocking the likes of David Silva to the bench and cementing himself as one of Man City's starting wingers. However he was the only one in the whole country who could not see he would be a reserve player and nothing more. For a man who spent much of his career hopping clubs, he clearly made a massive mistake - but he'll receive no sympathy from us.

Joe Allen
Local-boy-makes-good Joe Allen was one of the key figures in Swansea's midfield last season. However, he was very quick to follow Brendan Rodgers out of South Wales to Liverpool. Unfortunately for Allen he hasn't really shone under Rodgers the second time around and has seen more of the bench than he probably wanted to. And, with Rodgers on the hunt for new midfielders, will he have much of a chance to impress at Liverpool in the future?

Darren Pratley
There was plenty of hoo-hah (finally managed to use that phrase) surrounding Pratley's departure but he officially left the club for Bolton on a free transfer, immediately after Swansea reached the Premier League. He now plays regularly for the Championship club which sit in an uninspiring 16th position. After his amazing halfway-line goal against Nottingham Forest, getting relegated with Bolton must have been a little anti-climactic.

Dorus de Vries
If there was ever a case of why you shouldn't leave Swansea for reasons of greed, The Cautionary Tale of Dorus de Vries is one people should tell their grandchildren. The highly-respected goalkeeper was adorned by Swans fans for many a season, including his awesome promotion-winning final season. On his departure, De Vries said: "Wolves are going into a third season in the top division and ... the difference for me is that while Swansea will hope to maintain their Premier League status, Wolves will expect to survive."

While Swansea are now 9th in the Premier League, Wolves are currently 18th in the Championship, and de Vries is a reserve player. While we can't hate him, we can chuckle at the fact that he may be sitting on the bench for a League One team next season.

Brendan Rodgers (not a player, but still...)
Rodgers ditched a place where he was loved, to join a bigger club where he was initially hated. Fans have warmed slightly to him - from hatred to indifference - but with Liverpool off the mark and Swansea heading for another Wembley final, Rodgers must have some regrets now. Not that he would admit it. Okay? Okay.

Alan Tate
Just joking - Tate's loan move to Leeds was the right decision for everyone involved and he is welcome back at any time.

Out of all these players, can we really be that bitter? The answer is no. They all helped Swansea get to where they are today in one way or another, and their exit made room for an even better successor to come in. Still, there should be no guilt in smiling at their misfortune.


This post was kindly sponsored by XLSMedical.co.uk

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Swansea City 0 - 2 Aston Villa: There's always one...

A poor performance and a deserved loss. It was bound to happen at some point, although we hoped it would be slightly later on in the year. If it helps, I almost got my match prediction right...

After a bright opening quarter, Swansea conceded the first goal when a shot from Matthew Lowton sailed past Vorm, via a deflection from Alan Tate. Otherwise the first half was very promising, with three great chances from the Swans. On 45 minutes it was still anyone's game.

Now, I'm not sure what was said in the dressing room at half-time, but it didn't help.
In the second half Swansea tried to play their usual game, but simply made too many mistakes - losing the ball through loose passes and allowing Villa to dispossess them too easily. Clearing the box also proved to be a rare difficulty today, and allowed the home side to pile on pressure.

The players all tried (or looked like they were trying), but it just didn't work out for them. Michu was as feisty as usual - picking up a yellow card - but looked clumsy at times and wasn't as effective. Jonathan de Guzman didn't offer as much support up front as last time. Pablo Hernandez looked more effective than Routledge when he came on - I wish he had come on sooner. Luke Moore came on late, but made something of himself and had the most shots out of any other Swans player (four, with one on target).

Alan Tate, who needed a good game, had a decent one. He never strikes me with pure confidence, but he made a block, a few successful clearances and won most of his aerial battles.

For me Nathan Dyer was the man-of-the-match (for Swansea at least), with plenty of tireless running. He seemed to take a more central role at times, which allowed him a few shots (including a rocket in the first half). He worked hard and tried to win the team a penalty (which - correctly by the referee - wasn't given), and caused havoc as always.

A blunder, a boob, a fault - call it what you will, but Ashley Williams certainly made the biggest mistake of the day. A casual header back to Vorm allowed Christian Benteke to take it away and knock it in. Williams made a similar error earlier in the game, but saved himself. No such luck the second time. Despite a generally superb start of the season for Swansea, Williams has struggled and made more mistakes than usual. Still, he's a vital name on the team sheet and concerned us all when he began limping around in the second half. Needless to say, Swansea do not need any more defensive injuries!

Apart from creating a few good chances in the first half, there are not many positives to take away from this game. Such a shame there was no end product to some of the exciting counter-attacking. Still, after four games, Swansea are in fifth place in the Premier League! That makes it all better.

Elsewhere, all credit to Aston Villa who didn't do anything amazing, but strung together some attractive passes and really capitalised on every one of Swansea's mistakes. This result surely kick-starts their season.

All in all, it really was one to forget today! Onto next Saturday, where the team can redeem themselves against Everton back on home soil.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

30th May 2011 – One Year On: Where are they now?

I remember it like it was yesterday. But it wasn't. It was a year ago.

Yes, one year ago today (or yesterday if you are reading this tomorrow), Swansea City walked out onto that Wembley field to take on Reading in the Championship play-off final in front of 40,000 excited Swans fans (and a few Reading fans). Swansea won and then it was all a blur!

A year on and plenty has changed. However, before I spend the summer writing about hopes for next season, I felt it necessary to focus a blog post on the starting eleven who battled hard in that incredible game.

Where are they now? How was the past year for them? Let's have a look.

Dorus De Vries 
The departure of the likeable keeper was the biggest shock of last summer, and left a bad taste in the mouths of many Swans fans. He moved to Wolves "to be able to find [his] true potential" - potential that was left bottled up on the bench as Wolves spent most of the season in the relegation zone, finally sent back to the Championship in May. He made only his second Premier League start against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium in an odd 4-4 draw, and was jeered a number of times by the Swans fans. He'll spend next season in the Championship, probably on the bench. Sorry Dorus, but it wasn't our choice.

Angel Rangel 
Rangel had a good first season in the Premier League. He didn't make the headlines, and generally took a little longer than others to settle into the big league, but was eventually able to replicate his strong defending and pacey wing-back role in the big time. Always one of the first on anyone's team sheet. He had a few poor moments, notably his mistake which gifted Man United the only goal in the game at the Liberty. Still, we all love Rangel.

Garry Monk 
The iconic centre-back captained the Swans in that memorable play-off final and deservedly lifted the trophy. However, Monk played a lesser role throughout last season thanks to the inclusion of Steven Caulker at centre-back. Mind you, he still started 14 games, and played his part in the clean-sheet victories over Fulham, West Brom and Stoke. His career is not over yet, though it is starting to wind up. Much of it is summed up in his published autobiography, Loud, Proud and Positive (available from all good book shops or the internet I assume!).

Ashley Williams
Williams had a huge season for the club, starting all 37 Premier League games and all three cup matches, captaining the squad through much of it. There has been little in the way of struggling with the step up, as Williams kept world-class strikers quiet for many games. Always the first name on the team sheet and will take the captain role again next season.

Alan Tate 
I always forget Tate was playing in that play-off final, instead of the banned Neil Taylor. Unfortunately for Tate, his now infamous golf buggy incident ruled him out for much of the season with a broken leg. He eventually made a comeback and, while never making the pundits drool, gave his all, as he always does for Swansea City. He was subbed-on for the last few minutes of the game against his former club at Old Trafford, and deserved every last note of “we all dream of a team of Alan Tate's”.

Leon Britton 
Britton has become Swansea City's unlikely poster boy this season, being dubbed the Xavi of South Wales, and totting up some impressive passing statistics. He's been a vital part in the midfield engine and I predict the same next season. Why not check out my detailed article that I wrote for the Sabotage Times earlier in the season, centring on the rise of Leon Britton.

Joe Allen 
Allen established himself well in the Premier League and was a vital ball winner in the centre of the field. Overall he looked much more developed and less prone to frustrating mistakes (although he has picked up a few cards during the season). He was also able to contribute with the goal scoring – four this season, doubling his tally from last year.

Stephen Dobbie
His play created the second goal, then he scored the third for Swansea in the play-off final, but Dobbie just never got started in the Premier League. He had his chances to make an impact, but in his eight appearances (two starting, the rest as a sub) he looked a shadow of his Championship days. In March he rejoined Blackpool on loan, where he, albeit unsuccessfully, helped them in the battle for promotion. He may well stay with Blackpool next season, though will always be fondly remembered by Swans fans. 

Nathan Dyer 
His slippery dancing won the penalty which led to the first goal in the play-off final. He had a great start of the 11/12 season, emulating his Championship form in the early days against the likes of Man City and Arsenal though saw his role swapped with Wayne Routledge occasionally in the latter stages. The most important thing seems to be his ability in front of goal has improved – he scored six in total, and is looking much more the finished package.

Scott Sinclair 
Last season's poster boy scored an incredible hat-trick in the final. However, some may say that final was the last great game he had for the Swansea after losing a lot of form this season. While it is true he hasn't had the same impact down the wing as last season, he is a solid player and his composure from the penalty spot is still highly desirable. He's still the club's second highest goal scorer after Danny Graham, with eight goals this season. I reckon he has had his second season syndrome, and will shine again come August.

Fabio Borini 
Probably the most successful ex-Swansea striker and member of that play-off winning team. Borini left immediately, to head to his home nation of Italy to join Parma, though he spent most of the season with Roma. His fine Serie A performances saw Cesare Prandelli hand the youngster his debut appearance for the Italian national squad and he's off to Poland this summer to (hopefully, for me anyway) take Italy to glory! Forza Borini! Forza Swansea!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Swansea City: Hello Sigurdsson? Goodbye Tate? Stay there Dobbie?

It's been just under two weeks since Swansea City last took to the field. Brendan Rodgers has barely opened his bottle of SPF 30 and the summer rumours, links and signings are already in full flow.

Too many rumours begin and end on Twitter and, with no attribution, it's barely worth taking notice of most of them. However, some may have legs...

Let's briefly catch up with what's been going on:

Gylfi Sigurdsson
I began writing several posts on Sigurdsson, but as soon as I went to publish them we heard of another twist in the story. It seems Huw Jenkins is opening his wallet wide to grab the Icelandic midfielder, who played such a key role in the latter stages of the season. He filled the centre of the pitch nicely, netting many goals in style for the Swans, so it's no wonder everyone wants him to stay on.

The latest news seems to be that Swansea have agreed a £7.2million fee with Hoffenheim after Huw Jenkins flew to Germany. Sigurdsson must now agree personal terms and decide if he wants to make the switch permanently.

Let us hope it's all sorted soon and £7.2million is the limit. Though he is clearly a quality player, the whole budget shouldn't be spent on one man. You never know - he may have his own bout of 'second-season syndrome'! But I'm almost certain that won't happen. A decision is coming soon though; an announcement we all anticipate highly.

Tate and Monk Released?! 
No... at least I don't think so. But I bring this up as I recently overheard someone say 'I don't believe they've released Tate and Monk from their contracts!'. Thankfully a quick internet search proved it to be another nothing rumour, and rightly so.

While they are struggling in the Premier League they should never be forced out, for two reasons: one being Swansea are severely lacking defenders at the moment. If Taylor and Rangel take a knock, it's Tate who will step in. We don't even have the luxury of two fresh, young centre-backs at the moment with the departure of Caulker, so Monk is currently first choice along with Williams.

The other reason should be obvious - they are Swansea City. Despite being somewhat past their prime, both Monk and Tate are key figures to have on the bench, in the dressing room and, when it's called for, on the field. I'm sure they'd take pay cuts if needs be, but to be released just like that? No!

Stephen Dobbie
Still on the Swans books, but will he play again? Watching the play-off semi-finals it was clear to see why the Blackpool fans love him. His touch, his vision... he is the complete player. For the Championship. Yes, I fear Dobbie is a very good Championship player and that is his limit.

Is it worth keeping him? With the probable signing of Sigurdsson, Dobbie is even less likely to start for Swansea next season, so I think now is the time to let him go (for a nice lump sum of course - £1million is the current price tag). Naturally, he won't be forgotten easily, after what he did for the team in the promotion winning season, but I think most would be happier to see him make the switch to Blackpool permanently.

Marvin Emnes 
Swansea were linked with Marvin Emnes last week, but that little rumour did the rounds and died. Like Dobbie he seems to be a fantastic Championship player and will always be remembered for his goal against Cardiff, but I can't confidently say he'd make an impact on the Premier League.

Rodgers to Liverpool 
He wasn't first choice for the Liverpool job and didn't want to upset the Swans players and supporters, so his decision not to get involved with talks was clever and ultimately the correct choice.

And the rest...
Rodgers to Roma, Emile Heskey to Swansea, Allen to Liverpool for £3million - none of these are happening! I can't decide which one is the most absurd and which I dislike the sound of the most...

Friday, 4 May 2012

Swansea City vs Man United: The brief, sketchy preview

The trip to Manchester is the penultimate match for Swansea City this season and the chance to cause another real upset in this unpredictable league.

Man United quite possibly threw away their chance at a 20th league title after that lacklustre, tired performance against their rivals on Monday night, but are still tipped to destroy Swansea on Sunday.

However I am optimistic. Perhaps I shouldn't be, with Swansea winning just one in their last seven games and with odds of 12/1 to win this one, but I feel we're still in for one more Swansea City shock before the season is through.

The Swans are safe. They have nothing to lose, and nothing more to gain (the top ten spot is probably just out of reach unless other results go the right way). The Sky cameras will be on, Swansea are clear underdogs and Man United, who are also slightly out of form, will be playing with desperation. Call me a silly sausage, but I feel this has 'upset' written all over it!

Who does Brendan Rodgers pick then? The 3-4-3 worked well to an extent last week, giving Swansea a much stronger attacking threat, but leave three at the back and the Swans will surely be torn apart by Rooney and co. No, it'll be much the same as we've seen all season – 4-5-1 or thereabouts.

I'd like to see Orlandi take part again, after an effective first half last week. Possibly in the place of Leon Britton, maybe even Gylfi Sigurdsson – two players who might have been figured out a little by the opposition.

Alan Tate is expecting to make a return for this game against his former club. However, if Angel Rangel is fit, I don't think many will see Tate starting the game. He may come on at the end, depending on how things are going, similar to Mark Gower getting a little run-around against his former team at Spurs.

Whatever team Rodgers picks for this game, be sure that Sir Alex (...Ferguson) (...you knew who I meant) will field a younger Man United team, a much different side from the bunch who lost to Man City. Good news for Swansea as Jonny Evans and Danny Welbeck are unlikely to feature due to injuries, but we may see the return of Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez to the starting line-up.

Betting on the game? Swansea, as mentioned, are around 12/1 to win, and 6/1 to draw. A decent bet to cover may be 'Swansea to win or draw' which is priced at 4/1. It's hard to call a score on this one – I wouldn't bet against 4-4 (at 350/1) if I'm honest, but a more realistic 3-1 to Man United may be wiser (9/1).

Either way, it should be a great final away game for Swansea before a sure win against Liverpool the following week!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Loyalty: no longer playing for the badge

Dorus De Vries has left Swansea City.

For me this is a bigger shame than Darren Pratley and (possibly) Neil Taylor leaving, as it seems to have cropped up from nowhere. I know he was out of contract, but I must have just assumed he'd sign another one. Football lesson #1: Never assume anyone will be playing for your team next season.

I think I'm more confused than anything.

It might be more understandable had Swansea failed to achieve promotion last season, or were in a Cardiff-type state (complete disarray), but that's not the case. Swansea were promoted, have been gifted £90million, have a great team and management in place and have some of the best supporters in the land. Dorus will know this.

Maybe his departure was a lifestyle reason? Unlikely though; I've been to Wolverhampton and, despite what the Wolverhampton tourist board may claim, it has no charm or beauty. Well, none compared to that of Swansea. So we can rule out “change of scenery”.

Could it be the manager? I've never been managed by him personally, but Brendan Rodgers strikes me as an excellent boss, one who you'd struggle to dislike and one who let's the players play their own way. I can't see the appeal of Mick McCarthy over the Kilimanjaro conqueror, so it can't be a reason.

Maybe we don't have to look further than De Vries himself who said (speaking to Wolves club website): "Wolves are a club with all the fundamentals in place to grow and expectations are higher than at Swansea at this moment in time.”

This, again, is odd. I think expectations are very high in Swansea. Higher than they must be at Wolves. A team still flying on the promotion high (I know the crash will come soon enough) against a team who avoided relegation by a point on the final day. I may be a little disillusioned, but I predicted (before this news came to light) that Swansea would probably finish on par, if not higher than, Wolves. Maybe De Vries knows something I don't?

After discussing all these points, it should be clear by now that money is the reason De Vries left Swansea. (I would like to point out that while I am naturally focussing my attention on the Dutchman, it is generally the same story for Darren Pratley and any others that choose to leave now).

In football, money overtook loyalty years ago. Gone are the days where a player will spend his entire career with one club (bar a few exceptions – Giggs, Del Piero, Scholes) and it's such a shame for the sport.

As we all know, the joy of having 20,000 fans chanting your name is nothing compared to the sheer bliss of that extra few grand a week. Forget the kids who save up pocket money for a new kit and have your name sewn onto their shirts, only for you to leave the next week. Forget the fans in stands similar to the Tesco Stand all over the country who will now have to co-ordinate another chant for their star keeper.

Player loyalty (the lack of it) is almost enough to put you off football.

Why can't more players be like Alan Tate? Can anyone remember Alan Tate holding up his Swansea shirt for the camera's when he signed? No, because it was so long ago! One of those rare players that will probably stay with the club for his entire career (and it's not just because no-one else wants him).

So the departure of De Vries leaves a big space to fill. Swansea are currently being linked with Poland international Grzegorz Sandomierski (a lovely name for the commentators to get wrong). However, the 21-year old has impressed a number of top clubs, including Man City, Juventus and Chelsea, so don't hold your breath on this one.

I felt Swansea already needed another keeper before this happened; as a back up in case De Vries got injured. I don't feel Yves MaKalambay is Premier League material yet, though worth hanging on to as a third keeper.

Now Rodgers has another mountain to climb in getting two good quality goalkeepers into the squad; at least one of them with enough experience to face the likes of Rooney, Tevez and Drogba next season.

I guess Alan Tate could take the gloves again?

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, 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.