Sunday 28 July 2013

Jonjo: The man with the point to prove

The signing of Jonjo Shelvey was certainly unexpected and turned a few curious heads. However he has impressed at times during pre-season and there may be more to Shelvey than we first thought. In this blog post, MATTHEW JACOB explores the history of the deal and his chances of success at Swansea City.


By Matthew Jacob

When Jonjo Shelvey put pen to paper on July 3rd to seal a switch to Swansea from Liverpool, I - like many other Jacks - was completely underwhelmed.

Michael Laudrup's summer spending had brought much intrigue up to this point, yet this transfer didn't exactly fill me with the excitement that followed the acquisitions of Jose Canas, Jordi Amat and Alejandro Pozeulo.

What surprised me first of all was how quickly it all came about. I had not heard Shelvey's name in among all the others being linked with the club at the time, and not seen him linked with Swansea City since Brendan Rodgers offered the England U21 international as part of the deal for Joe Allen in August 2012. Nevertheless the Liverpool man signed for £6million and joined the team in Holland for pre-season.

The midfield was not an area I felt needed further reinforcements and, given that Shelvey hadn't exactly shone since his move from Charlton to Liverpool, I must admit I needed some convincing that he was right for Swansea City.

But there are qualities in his game that I admire. He's a combative player, not afraid to make a tackle, and certainly posses a range of passing skills that will suit our style. Yet my outstanding memory of Shelvey is his sending off against Manchester United for a two-footed challenge on Jonny Evans, and shouting at Ferguson as he went off!

Whether or not you put that down to 'youthful exuberance' or sheer arrogance, it's a part of his game he needs to work on.

I feel that's the key with Shelvey - he has many good qualities, but had perhaps lost his way at Liverpool with the likes of Gerrard and Lucas in front of him for selection.

Perhaps that's the reason there are those that have written him off in the past. He now has an opportunity to play first team football and hone his skills under the tutelage of a footballing legend.

The midfielder has already said he's hoping first team football will land him a seat on the plane to Brazil next summer with the England team and good performances for us will certainly boost his chances. Now is Jonjo Shelvey's chance to prove how good a footballer he is, and show his real qualities every week.

His route to the first team will not be a straightforward path - I'd argue it's now the strongest part of the squad. Shelvey will be competing with Canas, Pozeulo, Ki, De Guzman, Michu and Britton for a central berth in the starting eleven.

He has impressed during pre-season in a deeper lying role alongside Britton or Canas and getting forward to support Michu and now Bony in attack, culminating in a goal at the Madejski in the Swans final friendly before taking on Malmo in the Europa league.

Shelvey has real experience in Europe after games for Liverpool and can bring that knowledge to the squad as they prepare for their first journey into the competition.

What's exciting from a personal point of view is how Laudrup intends to use him in the system. He could be used in a holding role to support the likes of De Guzman and Pozuelo in attack or he could be pushed up alongside Michu to support Bony with Britton or Canas left to sit in front of the back four.

From what I've seen and heard it looks as though Jonjo is ready to prove the doubters wrong (me included!).

I'm really looking forward to seeing him in Europa League action on Thursday - super strikes, tough tackles, time to shine Jonjo!


Jonjo Shelvey's Career to date

He was born in Romford and began his career at Arsenal and West Ham as a youth player. He soon became Charlton Athletic's youngest ever outfield player in 2008 when he made his debut at 16 years and 59 days old.

A string of quality performances prompted Liverpool to stump up £1.7 million for his services in 2010, where he made a small number of Premier League appearances.

Shelvey moved on loan to Blackpool in September 2011 where he finally began to recapture some of his early form at Charlton, scoring six goals in ten appearances for the Seasiders before being recalled to Anfield due to an injury crisis.

Brendan Rodgers favoured the Romford born midfielder, and he made a number of appearances in the Europa league for the Reds before moving to Swansea this summer.

Monday 22 July 2013

The new look Forza Swansea!

A new season is on the way and with it comes a new look for your favourite Swans blog (assuming it is Forza Swansea...)

Despite the lovely weather, we are all eager for autumn to kick in so Swansea City can kick off their third season in the Premier League.

That's right, the third season.

Time certainly has passed quickly since that day at Wembley. It got me thinking about how long I've been running ForzaSwansea - around three years, since September 2010.

While a lot has changed in that time (Swansea now have Michu and Bony instead of Pintado and Kuqi) the blog remained the same, so now seemed the perfect time for a little face lift. The navigation is pretty much the same, so if you are easily confused there shouldn't be much to get used to!

Let me know how you like the new design - either leave a comment below or via the contact form.

Summer silence

It's been a little quiet on the blog this summer. Despite loads of goings-on, from transfers to friendlies, myself and the bloggers have spent too much time relaxing and not enough time writing.

Rest assured, as the new season starts we'll have plenty to say and you'll have plenty to read! Which brings me onto...

New blogger wanted

If you have something to say about Swansea City, have some good ideas and - most importantly - can write, feel free to pitch me an article. If it's good I will upload it for the world to read and if you can produce a few of these blogs I will make you a regular contributor.

There's no payment (trust me, I've been doing this for three years and have made bugger all) but we don't do it for money. We do it for the love of Swansea City and the love of writing.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Bloggers Q&A: Swans' summer transfers

It's summer, it's sunny (for a change) and Swansea City have finally made some great (along with some "interesting") transfers.

So I decided to set myself and the bloggers three brief questions on Swansea City's recent signings and what is left to achieve in the transfer window. Have a read, share your thoughts, then get back outside to enjoy the weather!

Of all the new players, which one are you looking forward to seeing in action the most?

Alec Johnson: Shelvey - he brings something totally different and a degree of steel that is sometimes lacking in our middle third. Also it will be nice to see somebody having a shot from forty yards for a change - we have lacked this since Bodde.

Jules Price: Canas - I think he will be another great character on and off the pitch in Swansea. The YouTube videos Swansea City have uploaded this week are testament to that.

Jacob Cristobal: Jordi Amat - mostly the surprise that Swansea got him! A 21-year-old defender who could be on the rise for the national team if he has a good debut season. Also I can see a partnership forming with Ben Davies that could flourish!

Matt Jacob: Aside from Bony I think it has to be Shelvey - the man with a point to prove! Think he'll be an exciting edition for us and will prove the doubters wrong.

Chris Carra: I'm curious to see them all, but mostly Shelvey. It's a signing that confused me at first but - like Alec said - he will bring something different to the centre. Laudrup clearly has plans for him, so it'll be interesting to see how they unfold.

We've had a few good signings now, but what else is still needed?

AJ: A small, sharp forward - somebody that nobody has heard of, from a club that we've never watched.

JP: We need to trim the squad. Players like Lita need to go. Also is it time for Tate and Monk to depart?

JC: Another winger for depth purposes, but I don't have a particular name in mind.

MJ: I'd be looking at another centre forward, other than that I'd say we're covered all over the pitch. Vydra would be nice but Donnolly seems to be doing the business in pre-season so I hope we see more of him this year.

CC: Despite the signing of Bony, I'd say at least one more striker is needed, especially if Moore is leaving. Midfield is looking very healthy and there is enough cover for the wings at the moment. Maybe another centre-back, to relieve some of the pressure from Williams and Chico.

Money and realism aside, who would be your ideal summer signing?

AJ: Well, in April I wanted Bony and suggested him as a fantasy signing, so I better be careful what I wish for. Cesc Fabregas here we go!

JP: Fantasy signing would be Paul Gascoigne. I saw him play his first game for Spurs against the Swans in the Mike Hughes testimonial. He scored a 25 yard free kick. Pure talent. Of present players, David Luiz, for the same reason as Chico and Canas - strong characters that love the game, fans and team mates. Good players too.

JC: Thomas Muller (hey there's that winger!)

MJ: Falcao, had he not gone to Monaco. He's a goalscoring machine.

CC: It will have to be someone Italian... so let's say Emanuele Giaccherini. I didn't particularly rate him before this summer, but the Juve winger had a brilliant Confederations Cup with the Azzurri and would look good in a Swans shirt! Plus he's only £8m - bargain!


This ends the first Q&A! Keep in touch with all of us on Twitter (our handles are on the contributors page). Feel free to leave a comment or question below!

Friday 28 June 2013

Jack to a King: Turning Hafod into Hollywood!

We all love movies about the sporting underdog - Moneyball, The Mighty Ducks, Rocky - and we all like movies about Swansea (mainly just Twin Town I guess?).

But now Hollywood are coming to town to combine the two and share Swansea City's emotional story with the world!

Jack to a King is a collaboration between an array of top movie makers including BAFTA award-winning director Marc Evans, Oscar-winning co-producer James Marsh and Swansea legend Mal Pope, who is an executive producer.

The producers are calling on ForzaSwansea readers to help them out and become part of this exciting project. Whether you live in Mumbles or Mumbai this is your chance to share your Swans stories and see your name on the credits of a major movie.

They are looking for photos, video clips and digital film that you may have taken at Swans matches, in any format, no matter how ancient. They need fan footage from the old days at the Vetch to the Liberty days, up to and including the day that Swansea made it into the Premier League.

But it's not just on-pitch action they're after. Send in photos and videos of:

  • banter and chanting in the crowd 
  • yourself meeting players 
  • you and your mates travelling to Swans games 
  • the open-top bus celebrations 
  • or recordings of old radio shows and phone-ins

Visit the official movie website to send in your pictures and footage, or (if you're in Swansea) drop items off in person at the main receptions of the Evening Post, the Liberty Stadium or Swansea Sound.

I'm sure you'll all agree this is a superb project so let's get behind it!

Monday 24 June 2013

Angel Rangel and The Purple Jigsaw

I'm back from Portugal, full of port and cheese, and ready to share my views on the new Swansea City kit (from what we can make of it) and how it's been revealed!

While I was away I noticed a tweet with an attached photo of the new kit. When I clicked on it I believed my phone was playing up as I could only see Angel Rangel's head. However after reading the accompanying article I realised what was happening.

Via the official website, the club have been releasing the image of the new 2013/14 kit piece-by-piece in an attempt to build interest and create a buzz. The club announced on its website that they will be "revealing a section of both kits each day for the next week" with the full unveiling on Friday morning.

I could see this teaser method working to an extent, maybe over a day or two, but by Friday surely everyone will have figured out what the kit looks like? As one tweeter correctly pointed out, the patch on the arm suggests it is likely to be nothing but a slight variation on the new Stoke City away kit. This is because these days, unfortunately, kit designers tend to create a template and use it for a few clubs. (It's hard to criticise Adidas too much after they delivered the superb centenary kit last season).

I could be very wrong and the final square of the picture could shock us all (maybe a watermark of Alan Tate and the F**k Off Cardiff flag), but chances are it will be pretty much as expected.

Whatever happens this is unlikely to deter the army of Jacks from purchasing the new kit. Regardless of the way it's been revealed it is still likely to be well received and will probably sell out much like it did last year.

It just seems it would've been better to reveal the new kit as one massive firework instead of letting off loads of those little ones which everyone eventually gets bored with.

On the subject of kits - and as I've said before I'm no Gok Wan - I'm not sure about a purple Swans away kit. I'd still prefer a classic black kit, or even red like last year. However the purple move does hint that Infiniti, who use purple as their marketing colour, are more than likely the new sponsors. Whatever happens purple has got to be better than orange!

Monday 17 June 2013

If blog posts were Nathan Dyer...

Probably the shortest blog post you will ever see on ForzaSwansea...

I'm away on holiday until Sunday (June 23) so won't be uploading any posts until I'm back.

See you soon!

Thursday 13 June 2013

Swansea's severed ties with Tutu... and Laudrup?

In this short blog post ForzaSwansea editor CHRIS CARRA takes an unsure look at the issues surrounding the ongoing Michael Laudrup saga (...he comes to no concrete conclusions).

Will he won't he? Will he... won't... he...? Yes I'm talking about Michael Laudrup.

Swans fans tried to shrug off the rumours as the post-season began, but things are now sticking and with the ties between the club and Bayram Tutumlu finally severed, it seems Swansea City's managerial future is once again uncertain.

But despite reports of these problems, Laudrup has come out and said, via the Evening Post: " intention is to stay."

Now, in football, those words don't mean that much. Just look at Brendan Rogers and his "Swansea is where my heart is" poetry and you'll know what I mean, but Laudrup seems a little more straight talking. He's made it clear he would leave the club in a few years, but seemed set on staying for a while.

Naturally he is going to be more loyal to his agent of 25 years than a Welsh football club, but he would know he has a lot left to achieve in Swansea.

But what if he does go? Let's take a step back. As Swansea fans we are probably looking at the Dane through glossy eyes - and who can blame us. He took the club to their highest finish since 1982 and won the Capital One Cup in great style. And he's a cool character who we all love to be associated with.

On the "flip-side" as I'm sure the cool kids say, is it the end of the world?

While I've just outlined what a sterling job he has done, the board would look to bring in a manager with a similar philosophy which would suit the players already at the club.

And he wasn't perfect - some could say his epic first half of the season was cancelled out by the concerning second half. I mean, it wasn't cancelled out, but the performances after the Wembley trip left a lot to be desired.

I've started this blog post with no conclusion in mind, so sorry if you were looking for answers - they will be hard to come by and, in this situation, only time will tell. He will either go in the next week or he'll stay for another season.

Stay tuned because we'll bring you all the gossip and speculation (and maybe even a few concrete facts) throughout this interesting summer.