Monday, 27 January 2014

Swans On Film: N'gog's N'skills

David N'gog is now officially an N'Swansea City N'player!

I had a browse to see if we should be getting excited and... well, there does seem to be some skill level there (more so than Vazquez I guess). Whether or not it will pay off for Swansea will need to be seen, but at least there has finally been some transfer window activity.

Below is a video which highlights an array of N'Gog's skills and a few goals. It's worth checking out if you haven't seen much of him before.

(Please note: I highly recommend you MUTE THE VIDEO - the soundtrack is absolutely terrible!)

Remember to like ForzaSwansea on Facebook for occasional updates. If you do I will think you are pretty cool!

It's in our hands! (Part 1)

In this special two-part article, ForzaSwansea blogger MATTHEW JACOB gives us his opinions on why Swansea City are wallowing in the relegation zone and what is needed to get us out of the rut. Then in Part 2 (scheduled for tomorrow morning) he'll give us a run down of the next six Swans games and how many points we can expect to take!


By Matthew Jacob

I think it's safe to say that there was a feeling throughout the summer among the Jack Army that this season always promised to push our club to the limit like never before.

As Michael Laudrup prepared to steer the Swansea City ship into the uncharted waters of the Europa League I admit to a having a strong feeling of trepidation - would the squad be strong enough to battle on four fronts? Will being in Europe take the focus away from the Premier League?

You could argue that we are suffering a similar fate to that of Newcastle United and Stoke City when faced with playing Sunday and Thursday and travelling all over the continent. It was never going to be a breeze for a club like Swansea.

Let's tackle one issue first of all. We're in a relegation battle, no question about it.

The Premier League is a cruel and unforgiving place for a team low on confidence, yet the way this season has taken shape every club from Cardiff in 20th to Aston Villa in 10th is battling to survive, and will be from now until May.

That's how tight it is, where a mere six points separates the bottom club from mid-table 'safety'. And good performances count for nothing. It's all about results now, and Swansea need to start getting them (though I do not believe it should come at the expense of our style, as Alan Hansen suggested a few weeks ago).

The tactical genius himself.

Issue two is expectation. Swansea City have had two heartily successful Premier League campaigns and secured the Capital One Cup while capturing the imagination of professional pundits who suggested we would be nothing but relegation fodder following our promotion. Our dip in form since that cup win is well documented and it has left journalists to suggest we're having a tragically poor season and that teams have 'found us out'.

"Found us out!"

That phrase always makes me smile - is it a major shock to teams now that we choose to pass the ball out from the back rather than hoof it forward? We've been doing it since 2007, so to those teams who have found us out, you took your time.

For the record, Southampton are only ten points ahead yet are being heralded as having a great season? They are, and I love the football they play, but three decent results for us and a couple of dodgy results for them would see us much closer. It's a tight league after all. What would the pundits say then?

Finally, the issue of reinforcements and adding to the side.

The squad needs new blood and the fans would welcome the lift. We've been linked with Anthony Pilkington who is a lovely footballer with a bit of grit about him and someone who would certainly add to our group. A centre forward to help Wilfried Bony in Michu's absence would certainly lift the mood (I'm not sure David N'gog would immediately settle nerves, but he does have a point to prove).

Meanwhile the bizarre issue of Ki Seung Yeung has everyone scratching their heads. Laudrup has been forced to utilise Jordi Amat in midfield yet the mercurial Korean is pulling up trees on Wearside! There were calls to get him back. Those calls were ignored, Ki stays with the Black Cats and we move on.

With the squad bare and a difficult run of games to come, we as fans need to get behind the boys more than ever, the time for moaning at not being mid-table is over. We're in a scrap and we need to pull together. Our destiny is still in our hands.


Check back tomorrow morning for Part 2, where Matt will profile the next six games and give his predictions on how many points we can hope for.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Ashley Williams: From Stockport to Stamford Bridge

He puts his body on the line for Swansea City week-in, week out: Ashley Williams. While the captain of Wales has suffered periods of poor form in recent months, there are few others that make it onto the team sheet before he does. To celebrate our captain, ForzaSwansea blogger MATTHEW JACOB brings us a passionate tribute.


By Matthew Jacob

"Well done Ash!" - a sentiment echoed by Jacks everywhere time and again over the last six years since Ashley Williams joined Swansea City from Stockport County.

And back then, when the Swans were in League One, even the most optimistic fan could not have anticipated the player we had just acquired. It took £400,000 to bring him to South Wales - a club record fee at the time - yet Williams has repaid that sum ten times over.

Ashley Williams was born and bred in the West Midlands and began his career at West Bromwich Albion in the youth set up at the Hawthorns. Yet like so many footballers his age Williams was released at sixteen having failed to convince the hierarchy at Albion that he was worth a senior contract.

The defender slipped into non-league football, plying his trade at Hednesford Town and working part time at Drayton Manor theme park to make ends meet - humble beginnings for a man who now proudly wears the captain's armband for club and country.

He eventually moved on to play for Stockport in 2003 and made his international debut while captain there, finally moving to Swansea City in 2008 initially on loan. Then on clinching promotion to the Championship under the leadership of Roberto Martinez the move was made permanent.

Williams is an imposing figure. At six foot tall, his broad shoulders carry the hefty expectations of the Jack Army. My first impression was how mobile would he be? He stood enormous, even at 24-years-old when he first joined the club. Thankfully that concern was driven from my mind as Williams conquered all who came against him as Swansea took the League One title and then stood firm in their first foray into the Championship.

It's hard to nail down Williams 'strength' because he's such a complete all round defender. A strong mental attitude and bravery, coupled with pace, physical strength and tactical nous - Williams possesses all of these traits. Most importantly he's an excellent footballer in defence, but he also has an attacking attitude towards the game, namely his ability to play superb cross field passes to the wingers and the obvious threat he poses from set pieces.

Williams has courted the attention of top clubs since our arrival into the Premier League and following the end of the 12-13 season it seemed Arsenal would make a move for the Welsh international. To the delight of the Jack Army no offer materialised and Williams remained a Jack.

But it's not just on the pitch where he shows dedication and selflessness for the cause. He uses his status as a professional footballer for the benefit of others and is often commended for doing so. One example is WillsWorld, the charity he started to benefit under-privileged children with his wife Vanessa, along with his community soccer schools which are very popular with children in Swansea.

He commands the respect of the crowd and his team mates. When Williams is absent you cannot help but feel our cause is weakened. But with him Swansea always have a chance. With the current rough patch we are going through, the Swans will need the influence of Williams more than ever if they are to remain a Premier League side come May.

The story of Ashley Williams is one of a man cast into the football wilderness, rising to lead a club that were faced with bankruptcy and relegation into non-league a little over ten years ago. He now battles for Swansea at grounds like Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge and typifies our bold playing style and bravery against the odds.

Let us hope he continues to lead the club for many years to come.


You can pick up Ashley Williams' book, charting his first year in the Premier League. It's available in all good book shops and online.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

#Brickgate - The rise, fall and rise (and fall) of Chico Flores

We all cringed when we saw that Swansea City had made the back pages yesterday morning for the wrong reasons - all thanks to our hotheaded defender Chico Flores and 'the brick'.

ForzaSwansea's newest blogger GAVIN TUCKER takes a look at what happened, why it happened and tries to examine Chico's escalating unstable nature.


By Gavin Tucker

Every team has 'bust-ups' from time to time.

From infamous incidents involving Craig Bellamy, a sleeping John Arne Riise and a golf club; to player and manager coming to blows on the training ground (most notably Balotelli and Mancini).

The Daily Mail was the first to post the story of an altercation between Chico Flores and Garry Monk - an outlet that has a history when it comes to tales of unrest in the Swansea camp. But these stories don't get run without there being at least some truth in them. They will, however, sensationalise it and try to make it more than it may have been. After all, that's what sells.

Our fiery Spaniard in a moment of deserved glory

We as Swansea supporters are naturally sensitive to any negativity aimed at our club by national media. The fact remains though that an altercation did happen and (maybe unnecessarily) police were called to the scene. It was most likely an accumulation of little things that led to this point with neither party completely innocent.

If you look at the wording of the original Mail article they do not actually say Chico threatened to harm Monk with a brick - they leave the reader to assume that. The diablo is in the details. When Chico responded via Twitter I believe he was being truthful when he stated he did not threaten anyone with a brick.

So what happened with the brick? Where did this brick come from? What made him snap and want to brick things?

There are rumours strewn across the internet. There are allegations that it all started over physio comments on Chico's breakfast diet of Coco Pops and too much sugar in his OJ. It may have been property (i.e. Garry Monk's car) Chico threatened to damage with a brick? Or maybe he just snapped and had it in for that horrendous pink jeep somebody had parked in the space reserved for his Ferrari... who knows?

We'd rather have a bowl of Chico Pops!

Social media goes crazy with things like this - calls for him never to play for the club again, denial of any incident, a media conspiracy against Swansea, mixed in with a tidal wave of humour about building defensive walls, photoshopped Chico pictures, links to Pink Floyd songs and, of course, its own Twitter hashtag.

I like Chico and he has been a good player overall in his time at Swansea. He has has made some superb last ditch tackles and regular diving headed clearances millimetres off the floor more times than I can remember. Also not forgetting his almost unsurpassed ability of perfectly controlling a ball with his chest whatever speed it's falling through the air.

But, I never feel completely comfortable.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I'm praying there's not an unnecessary rash challenge around the corner, some slightly embarrassing play acting or a lapse in concentration that costs us a goal.

His form has notably dropped this season and if it wasn't for our current injury crisis in midfield then there is a fairly strong case to start with Jordi Amat at centreback given his pretty consistent form and reassuring performances.

What matters most now though is that whatever the finer details of the incident, it's best for players involved and supporters to move on. Whatever tensions and pressures that built up to the incident have hopefully been vented and any damage repaired because Swansea need the good side of Chico more than ever with some massive fixtures approaching.

We've had more than our fair share of negative press and pundit opinion since promotion to the Premier League. Our first season we were universally tagged as going straight back down. The following campaign losing our manager and some important players was only going to add to the mythical second season syndrome that we would apparently suffer from.

The media have seriously stepped up their soap opera narrative this week - an early relegation scrap, team bust-ups, manager and player falling-outs and Laudrup leaving whatever happens (okay, we kind of guessed that one anyway...).

Swansea can hopefully take this negativity and flip it into something positive. We do better when the world is against us. We need to get back to that siege mentality, back into underdog mode and prove to be as good as we know we can be.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Swansea City: Who else has a rallying call?!

Today is the day dubbed 'Blue Monday' by the media - supposedly the most depressing day of the year for an array of reasons. And if you are a Swansea City fan you'd be inclined to agree!

It's a frustrating time for all Swans supporters: the club have been pulled into an early relegation scrap, 50% of the first team are out with injuries, Swansea have the worst home record in the Premier League this season (just two home wins), they've picked up just three points in the last eight games, Laudrup and the team are showing no fight and some fans are seriously questioning the manager's immediate future with the club... it makes for bleak reading, doesn't it?

Looking at the back pages of the Evening Post over the last few weeks there seems to have been a constant stream of "rallying calls" issued by the players, but no-one seems to be listening to these calls when on the pitch. The displays are dull, passionless and frustrating.

Although it's not the only problem, injuries aren't helping. Currently the first team looks like this:

Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies
Lamah, Amat, Britton, Pozuelo, Routledge

In fairness that wouldn't be so bad, but the fact that nobody is in form makes it painful to look at. In fact the only player who seems to have grown in confidence while the others have become shells of themselves is Wilfried Bony.

Many fans - myself included - are questioning why there has been no activity in the transfer window. There have barely been any rumours this Janurary, let alone fresh faces at the club. With the injury list growing by the day (with the current casualties being Michu, Shelvey, Vorm, Dyer, de Guzman, Hernandez and Canas) and defenders having to replace midfielders, it wouldn't be unrealistic to say Swansea need at least three new players to help out.

What this all means is Swansea are now 15th and three points from the bottom of the table. Yes, it's been a hard winter of tough fixtures and the injuries have made a serious impact, not to mention the extra games, but something has to change.

Before you start crying, what are the positives?

As I just mentioned, Bony is in great form. It seems he has found the spark that was missing earlier in the season. He almost looks like a £12million player. Maybe it's just because other players are feeding the ball to him more, but his shots are the only impressive thing in Swansea's game at the moment and it looks like he could score another ten this season.

It's a shame it's happening now when the rest of the team are so poor, but at least it is happening. 

Another positive is Swansea's defenders are all fit, even if they are out of form. Chico seems terrible at the moment and it's a shame Amat has to play in the midfield because I'd much prefer to see him start alongside Williams at the back. But this is good - at least defence is one of the areas we still have a choice in.

So looking on the bright side, we have defenders, we have Bony and it's also not just us who are looking poor - there are nine other teams all in this scrap for the Championship. But it's up to Swansea to start winning games and sending themselves up the table and the others down.

While it's a shame we didn't beat Man United or Spurs, the reality of it is that those games are much less important than the upcoming ones against Fulham, West Ham and Cardiff, which are all six pointers (apart from the Cardiff game which is a nine pointer!).

Forget about the FA Cup - put out a full team of reserves. I don't want to see Bony, Britton, Tremmel, Williams or Rangel near the midlands on the 25th! They all need time to rest and, hopefully, by the time the Fulham game comes around on January 28th we'll have a few of the other first team players back.

While this doesn't guarantee a win, it does give us more hope.

Then it's up to us as fans to support the team and make some noise. Three wins in three games is a big ask, but against equally poor opposition it's not impossible. An extra nine points would probably see us back in the top ten and give everyone a much needed boost of confidence.

The next three weeks and the action of the management, players and fans will all be vital in the survival of this fine football club.

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, 14 January 2014

Brazil 2014 - "You're only here to watch a Swan!"

While it's constantly pissing down in Swansea, the prospect of the summer is absolutely wonderful at the moment. And although it seems a world away, June - and with it the 2014 World Cup in Brazil - will swing around in no time at all.

The summer may mean no Swansea City footballing action, but this year we may still see our favourite Swans players take to the field as we have an array of fine international talent in the squad.

It may be a little premature, but who cares? The World Cup is a big deal and I'm getting my thoughts in before everyone else!

So, from the Swans squad, who is likely to be travelling to Brazil?


Spain are again one of the favourites going into this tournament and with good reason - look at their squad! We all know Swansea's beloved Michu made his international debut last year, but has he done enough to warrant a place in the World Cup squad? At this stage of the season... probably not. This is mainly thanks to his injury, although even before the injury he seemed less groundbreaking than last year. And with the likes of Torres, Negredo and Villa battling for spaces (not to mention Spain's attacking midfielders) Michu will have his work cut out to impress in the next five months.

Likelihood: 5/10

Wilfried Bony
Ivory Coast

There's plenty of attacking talent in the Ivory Coast squad for Brazil, including Didier Drogba (their captain) and Roma's Gervinho, but they'd be stupid to leave Wilfried Bony in South Wales this summer! While he's been slow starting for the Swans, he's now knocking them in on a more regular basis. His strength in holding up the ball and his shot power alone should see him on the plane.

Likelihood: 9/10

Michel Vorm

Vorm - like Michu - has been blighted with injury this season (hasn't everyone in the Swans squad?), so he's not had as many chances to shine as he would like. But he's still likely to be heading to Brazil in the summer as he's one of the best goalkeepers Holland has to offer (possibly after number one choice Maarten Stekelenburg). Providing he stays injury free in the next few months and gets some more first team action with Swansea until May he should be in the squad.

Likelihood: 7/10

Ki Sung-Yeung
South Korea

As it stands, Swans fans are desperate to get Ki back to the club. However it seems neither Michael Laudrup nor Ki are keen for this to happen. Regardless, Ki is still a Swansea City player and he will be going to the finals in Brazil this year. The 24-year-old already has 55 caps for his country and is very likely to add another few this summer. Hopefully he'll be picked ahead of Cardiff's Kim Bo-Kyung!

Likelihood:  9/10

Jonjo Shelvey

This is a tough one. Shelvey has been a revelation for Swansea compared to his time at Liverpool and surely it has caught the attention of Roy Hodgson. Then again we know the mentality of the England management over recent years and because Swansea are not a 'big' club, their players are often overlooked - Nathan Dyer and Leon Britton to name two. And, with the likes of old hands Gerrard, Lampard and Milner in the running for the central midfielders, Shelvey won't be the frontrunner. However Shelvey has played well at England's Under-21 level so you never know.

Likelihood: 5/10

Roland Lamah

He made his senior international debut in 2009 but has played only 11 times since. The 26-year-old has impressed during the limited game time he's had for the Swans (mainly in the Europa League), but he hasn't played enough to warrant an assumed place in the Belgian squad. With other wingers such as Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne it's unlikely he'll be first on the plane. Still, as with all the players on this list, you never know!

Likelihood: 4/10

Fast forward to the World Cup Final... Spain vs Holland. Penalty shootout. "Michu steps up against his Swansea City teammate Michel Vorm for the chance to win the final..."

We'll see!


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