Showing posts with label football. Show all posts
Showing posts with label football. Show all posts

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, 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, 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!