Monday 30 December 2013

Swansea City - Our expert dissects the first five months!

In the final blog post of 2013, ForzaSwansea's former Swans player ALEC JOHNSON gives us his expert opinion at the half-way stage - who's impressed and who hasn't? Which were the best and worst games? And what should we be looking forward to in 2014? Read on to find out!


By Alec Johnson

This is our golden era! Let’s have a look at the first half of our third successive season in the most exciting and competitive league on earth.

It’s amazing what a few successful seasons do to people’s minds. I find myself preaching to the newbies that this is as good as it gets while reminding the oldies of the dark trips to Torquay and Hereford every year. Earlier in the season Laudrup was merely managing expectations by stating that an investment of two hundred million would be required to get us to the next level. He’s not wrong and despite the significant profits in the club there isn’t a spare safe to break open, nor would I want there to be.

Best players
Despite our mediocre results, individual performance levels have been consistently high through a number of key players. Ashley Williams has been his usual self and remains our rock at the back. Leon hasn’t had enough play time but hasn’t given the ball away or lost a tackle for around a decade now. Nathan Dyer has scored some crucial goals and his presence ensures that we are on the front foot - we miss him every second that he isn’t on the pitch for his mercurial abilities in the final third.

This time last season, our Michu was considered to be the player of the year and the find of the decade, however this season he has really struggled to make an impression. People question whether he was a one-time hit but I have no doubts about our talisman and I can't wait until February for his reappearance.

The definition of 'best player' could be interpreted in many ways: most exciting, most goals, the greatest man of the match performances... irreplaceable? This leaves us with Ben Davies, who tops it for me. He is truly irreplaceable and, while he doesn’t receive many man of the match awards, he is a consistent nine out of ten. His game has developed to provide attacking options, goals and his runs create so much space for other players. Add to this his ability to win headers from set pieces at both ends and he is certainly my most valuable player this half of the season!

Best newcomers
We have a few contenders after splashing a record amount last summer. It’s fair to say that most have settled and all have contributed. Looking at them individually, Jonjo looks to be a shrewd addition given his age and initial outlay of £5m. His influence grows in each game and as he matures he will be a top player for us. Just behind him Canas delivers the best value signing after arriving on a Bosman (free transfer!) - he acts as a third centre half and does the dirty bits very well. At the back Amat is growing in stature and for me is close to dislodging the inconsistent and erratic Chico, who has gone slightly backwards. Amat’s positional play and reading of the game is exceptional for such an inexperienced player at this level and £2m looks a steal.

Up front, Bony divides most opinion in a way others like Scotland or Fallon did before him. I could write a whole article on the big Ivorian and may do so later in the season. It's taken time for him to settle and much criticism comes from the fact that he isn’t the hardest working player on earth, but he is making progress. People need to appreciate what he does offer and not what he doesn’t. He was bought to hold the ball up and bring people into the game and this he does very well. I can’t remember another striker doing this at the club as well in recent times.

Now, here’s where I put my tin hat on. This guy can play, and score, but we have to be more adventurous to get the most from him. First thing is to play him every game from the start. Secondly, let’s throw it in there, let him fight for it, get bodies around him for the second ball and he will score or at worst create havoc. At Villa Park on Saturday I counted four balls knocked into him in the box - that’s with 77% possession. He makes the runs, dragging people with him, but becomes disillusioned with the lack of ambition and opportunity. The other reason that he has to play is the shape of the team - he sits far up field without wandering into deep positions maintaining our shape and leaving our midfielders to dominate the possession across the middle third.

Worst newcomers
The final new additions add almost no value in my opinion. Pozuelo has been a major disappointment and lacks pace and strength, He has amazing feet and a football brain but he just doesn’t affect games or hurt teams. Alvaro simply shouldn’t be at the club - if we wanted an athlete to run around we could have gone to the Harriers and recruited better.

Best game
To date, we have underperformed against the big boys and haven’t got close to threatening any of them over 90 minutes. We have the ability, but seem to lack the mentality and belief. Laudrup’s public comments stating that certain teams are not in our league have receded, however you do feel that the mentality hasn’t changed. Therefore, in previous seasons, though a victory against Arsenal, Man City or Liverpool would have won the ‘best game’ category we have to look at victories of equal importance but less eye catching headlines this time out. I’m going for the 3-0 victory over Newcastle who arrived at the Liberty on a long winning streak, yet we dominated every minute of that game and seemed to play with far more tempo and belief. More of this in 2014 would be nice.

Worst game
Losing to our neighbours! Having witnessed so many derbies where we triumphed through greater passion and determination, the reverse was the case this time. Was it having too many foreigners? I don’t think so - we beat them with our fair share of them three years ago. Are they better than us? Nowhere near. They simply worked harder. Having been the club looking up at us for the past few seasons, it’s been painful for them and they had their moment of glory at the cost of three precious points, pride and the suffering of the 2,000 Jacks in their ‘soon to be red’ stadium. Let’s move on.

What next?
We are hours from January and the usual mayhem that surrounds it. As per all previous transfer windows I expect us to end the window stronger than we start it. The rumours of Moses, Sterling, Ince and Aspas all seem very far-fetched for different reasons. I expect Laudrup to deliver a few pearls from another planet and therefore off everybody’s radar. Without Michu we need another spark in the Borini or Siggi mould, both January additions, somebody to buzz around the final third and deliver end product to our beautiful game. Beyond January, I expect the second half of the season to deliver the 25 or so points required to maintain 10th position. My hope is that Michu and Dyer return quickly to their best as they offer the most penetration and unpredictability. My belief is that they will return as strong and that we will take some big scalps and knock our neighbours back into their dirty hole before their shambolic relegation party.

It all starts against the richest club on the planet and I can’t wait.


Follow Alec on Twitter. And if you fancy sharing your opinions, leave a comment below or on our new Facebook page.


Sunday 29 December 2013

RESULTS: Swansea City Team of the Season (so far)

A week or so back I encouraged you to vote for who you believe should feature in the Swansea City Team of the Season so far, on the basis that it was not a decision that should be made by just me!

Many of you voted. Some results were very predictable, some less so. Only one person voted for Tiendalli (I have a suspicion that it was Tiendalli himself).

So, without further babbling, here is who has impressed you the most this season for Swansea City!

The Team

Michel Vorm
Although he has suffered injury problems in recent weeks, you voted for Michel Vorm as first choice ahead of Gerhard Tremmel. Despite his mixed form and a few nerve-wracking punches, it's safe to say Vorm is still Swansea's best keeper.

Ben Davies
First on the list with one of the highest votes is Ben Davies (or Daveeees as one commentator persisted with...). Davies has had his share of blips, but is undoubtedly the best left back Swansea City have. He's also great going forward, scoring two league goals this season.

Angel Rangel
Another emphatic result was Angel Rangel, who you selected as the best right back. Even though Michael Laudrup has overlooked Rangel for Tiendalli at times (an incredible decision) Rangel is probably Swansea's most consistent defender and should always make the team.

Ashley Williams
While the results were less clear-cut for centreback, it should come as no surprise to find captain Ashley Williams makes the list. He's been to blame for a few opposition goals recently and has lost vital possession much more than in previous seasons, but Williams always puts himself on the line and can usually rival most Premier League defenders.

Chico Flores
Finally, you selected Chico Flores to partner Williams in the centre. This is one I don't fully agree with and would have opted for Jordi Amat instead (who was quite close behind in the votes). Chico hasn't impressed me as much this season (especially his acting skills) but - like Williams - he can keep great strikers quiet on a good day. He provides a talking point if nothing else!

Jonjo Shelvey
The results clearly show that you choose Jonjo Shelvey as Swansea's best midfield player and I'd have to agree. While he does have his moments of madness, Shelvey is creative going forward and can pick an effective long pass. He also shoots and often scores, which is what Swansea are crying out for when passing becomes tedious. Shelvey will be key in Swansea's European and domestic progress in 2014.

Leon Britton
Next up you picked Leon Britton - the rottweiler in midfield. Okay, less intense than a rottweiler but just as effective. He has seen more time on the bench than he would like this season, but fans are usually crying out for his inclusion. He passes, wins possession and is one of the coolest heads on the field.

Michu is your final choice of the central midfielders. I prefer him in this attacking midfielder role instead of lone striker. Unfortunately we haven't seen as much of the Michu/Bony partnership as we'd have liked thanks to injuries, but on paper it should be a match made in heaven. Michu's work-rate and goals are his tickets to this team and there is no way he could be left out.

Nathan Dyer
On the wing Nathan Dyer is clearly your first choice. The little man is currently out with a bad ankle injury, but he has been terrorising opposition fullbacks as he has done for the past few years. He's also scored four goals, making him joint top league goalscorer (with Bony) so far this season.

Alejandro Pozuelo
Pozuelo has had moments of brilliance for the Swans even if he is a little unpolished. He's featured in more games than any other player, though he has impressed the most in the Europa League. He has the drive to win the ball and is quick with his feet, and even though much of his talent is better harnessed in an attacking midfield position, he's probably the second most effective winger after Dyer.

Wilfried Bony
Well... it's not going to be Vasquez is it?! Swansea are a little bare up front when it comes to choice, but Bony is definitely the first choice striker. He's strong and can hold the ball up well even though he hasn't been shooting as much as he perhaps should be. Still, he's top goalscorer in all competitions (with seven goals) and is a key man for the team.


Agree or disagree with these choices? Let me know your thoughts in the comment box below, via Twitter (@ForzaSwansea) or on our new Facebook page.

Saturday 28 December 2013

New page - Swans Books!

We all love watching, listening and - if the popularity of blogs are anything to go by - reading about Swansea City!

So I have created a page dedicated to the best Swans books out there, from the complete history of the club to Ashley Williams Premier League Diary.

Look at the top of this page for the link!

Check the page out here and let me know if you have any suggestions for other books I should include. Cheers!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Happy Swansmas!

I just want to take a few seconds out of your day to say Merry Christmas (or whatever alternative your culture prefers) from all of us at

Thanks for another year of reading this blog and supporting the Swans. Here's to Swansea City grabbing the title of Europa League Champions 2014 and (at least) mid-table in the Premier League in May!

All I want for Christmas... (not really - that kit is sooo last season!)

Monday 23 December 2013

Lee Trundle vs. Swans fans - A Festive Battle

I was mentioned in a tweet (on Twitter of course) along with Lee Trundle. The tweet noted Trundle's comments in the Evening Post about Swans fans' negativity.

I read the first tweet, then popped to make myself a coffee. When I returned I had around 60 unread interactions. Something had kicked off...

It seemed to be a disagreement between Trundle and Swans fans over the club's recent form. But, instead of trying to voice my opinion with an ever growing number of Twitter users in 140 characters, I've taken to to briefly share my thoughts!

Trundle - he scores when he wants!

At the end of the day both parties have given good arguments.

Firstly, it's hard to deny that Swansea have been oddly poor in form and results over the past few months. The full reason is unknown, but the European games and squad rotation have clearly been playing their part. The team are not gelling - Bony is not scoring, Michu is not scoring (Tiendalli is scoring... which is odd), and generally players are looking tired.

As many have pointed out, the Premier League table is pretty unstable at the moment and a poor run of results could throw Swansea into the relegation zone in less time than you may think. The way the winter is shaping up, with games against Man City and Chelsea coming up, Swans fans have every right to be worried - lose both those games (which isn't that unlikely) and things may start to look bleak.

It's not all bad (and this is where Trundle's argument comes in). He says in his Evening Post column that he is "tired of all the complaining about Swansea City's performances". I agree with his idea that Swansea overachieved last season and this is why they aren't looking as shiny this year. I also like the notion that although Swansea aren't playing well, the club is still in good standing in two tough competitions.

That standing is (if you didn't know already) - mid-table in the Premier League and in the Europa League knockout stages with a glamour tie against Napoli looming. That's not bad. Yes injuries and sub-par displays on the field are making Swans fans frustrated, but things could be a lot, lot worse (we could have Vincent Tan as owner and be on the verge of changing from white to pink with yellow polka dots).

I guess the ultimate thing to take away from this blog post is that - as Trundle says - we must stick together and support the club through whatever. Good performances are only a game away. But as fans - who pay stupid amounts each year to follow the team - we have the right to voice our frustrations over the poor displays.

In conclusion we are all right! Now it's time for my coffee.


If you want to read more about Lee Trundle, read his book More Than Just Tricks.

Vincent Tan doesn't have a book... yet.

Flying High / Clipped Wings - Week #2

It's time for the second installment of our new weekly feature...

Flying High

After a poor performance last week against Norwich, Ashley Williams looked more on form. He committed himself to tackles and put his body on the line more than once. He also handled the threat of Lukaku well. And we must thank him for not gifting the ball to the opposition, which usually results in an away goal.

Elsewhere the singing Swansea City fans were on top form as they belted out some thoroughly entertaining songs - mainly Cardiff bashing - which we all enjoyed. "Vincent Tan is a Jack, he hates Cardiff!"

Clipped Wings

This may seem a little harsh as he scored Swansea's only goal of the game, but Dwight Tiendalli was pretty non-existent for much of the game. He didn't close down or run back quick enough and looked fragile in the air. I'd prefer to see Taylor work on his right-back skills and have a go at filling in for Rangel now and again...

And Wayne Routledge didn't look too hot yesterday. While he had a few decent runs and slid through a nice ball for Bony, his overall game is well short of where he's been in the past and he looked quite uncomfortable at times.


Agree or disagree with these choices? Let me know your thoughts in the comment box below, via Twitter (@ForzaSwansea) or on our new Facebook page.

Friday 20 December 2013

The Official Jonjo Shelvey Drinking Game

'Tis the season to drink (in addition to all the other things you may do at Christmas), so what better way to take the edge off an awkward family gathering than to play a drinking game. And what better subject for a drinking game than the enjoyable, talented and totally unpredictable Swansea City midfielder, Jonjo Shelvey?

Our resident American Swans fan JACOB CRISTOBAL has jotted down the rules to the drinking game (with a few extras chucked in by me) for your enjoyment. So, when Auntie Maude suggests a fun game to play this Christmas, turn on the TV, open your tipple of choice and hope Jonjo Shelvey is starting the match!


By Jacob Cristobal

What's one thing we've learned so far this season? As well as needing a healthy Michu and Bony, and doing whatever it takes to keep Michael Laudrup our manager, it's that whenever Jonjo Shelvey is on the pitch you know you are in for an experience.


I'll say this: an eight-hour time difference usually means that if I want to watch Swansea City matches live, it is in the morning. And it's a good thing they come in the morning when I'm sleep-deprived and drinking is very far from my mind, because when Jonjo's on the pitch, you'll damn well want to drink!

I've now realised that you will have more than enough scenarios within 90 minutes to create a drinking game based on his antics. So here are the official rules to The Jonjo Shelvey Drinking Game!

Remember, follow these rules at your own peril. I, nor, bear any responsibility for what happens. Besides, you Jacks are already a drunken lot by the time the ball is kicked - right? So, take another drink if:

  • Jonjo influences play so that it results in the ball in the back of a net (that's one drink if it's the opponent's net, two if it's Swansea City's).

  • Jonjo gets away with a foul that would normally warrant a booking (one drink if the commentators say it was worthy of a yellow, two if it was worthy of a red, and three if it was an arrestable offence).

  • Jonjo scores a legitimate goal. (Typically this comes after the previous two conditions happen first: (i.e. in the Newcastle game).

  • Jonjo gives the ball away in the Swans half in the 96th minute and it results in an equalising goal for the opposition.

Down your drink if:
  • Jonjo makes a hand gesture that is considered a declaration of war in another part of the world.

  • Jonjo scores an overhead kick from the Swans box in the 97th minute - reclaiming the lead and winning the game.

  • Jonjo nuts the referee.

Any others we should include? Let us know via the usual channels - Facebook, Twitter or leaving a comment below.

COMING NEXT WEEK - The Dwight Tiendalli Hangover Cure (...not really).