Archive for May, 2015

Another Season Done and Dusted.

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

It was a disappointing end to The Swans’ fourth successive season in the Premiership. Having secured  a respectable 8th place they lost the final two games of the season. The 2-4 defeat to Manchester City was grudgingly acceptable, but their performance in losing 0-1 to Crystal Palace was intolerable. Gary Monk made a number of changes to his regular line up, but they didn’t have one shot on goal and generally appeared totally disinterested in proceedings.

Don’t get me wrong (was that the Pretenders.) There were more highs than lows for supporters to savor over 10 months . This was Gary Monk’s first full season as manager and his team accumulated a club record 56 points in the Premiership while achieving the double over the mighty Manchester United and the gargantuan Arsenal.

Monk made some shrewd signings in the summer by exchanging Ben Davies for the Icelander Gylfi  Sigurdsson, acquiring the Argentinian defender Fernandez, goalkeeper Fabianski, and the  Ecuadorian Montero. He brought back Ki Sung-Yeung from loan at Sunderland and convinced him he had a future at the club. Ki returned the favor by having an outstanding season and was voted the club’s player of the year. Monk overcame the loss of his top goal scorer, Wilfried Bony in the January transfer window who was reluctantly sold to Manchester City for 28 million pounds. He signed Jack Cork in the  transfer window to stabilize a creative midfield, but with defensive shortcomings.

Gary Monk more or less stated that finishing 8th in a very competitive and demanding league is tantamount to receiving a poisoned chalice. He wonders how a club with modest means can compete with the big spenders and continue to improve next term. The top six clubs  Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Man United, Spurs and Liverpool have far greater resources at their disposal, so can the Swans seriously expect to improve on this season’s performance? Probably not, but they can give a better account of themselves in the Cup competitions particularly the FA Cup.

The more I write, the more I need to savor the Swans’ exploits and place the two defeats in the final games in perspective. There are several bigger clubs than Swansea currently languishing in the Championship who are desperate to extricate themselves from their plight and return to the Premiership. Wolves, Leeds United, Ipswich, Derby and Nottingham Forest were power houses in  British football during the latter half of the 20th Century. Forest won the European Cup (aka Champions League) in 1979 and 1980. Blackburn Rovers won the inaugural Premiership in 1992. Blackpool and Wigan  were recently in the Premiership only to find themselves relegated to League One at the end of the current season.

Now the trade rumors begin. Some of the media has declared that the Swans will find it difficult retaining their best players. Several Premiership Clubs are showing interest in Fabianski, Fernandez, Sigurdsson, Ki and Montero. Gary Monk could also be tempted away. Sunderland and West Ham have already expressed an interest in him, and its no secret that Swansea is a successful breeding ground for aspiring young managers.

Assuming Monk remains manager for the foreseeable future he will need to take a close look at his current squad and determine whether it is time to place old stalwarts of the squad out to pasture. Angel Rangel, Nathan Dyer and Leon Britton spring to mind. There are other members of the squad who are quite simply not up to Premiership standard and Jazz Richards and Kyle Bartley are  cases in point. Whatever happened to Rory Donnelly, the much vaunted striker from Northern Ireland with so much potential?

Congratulations to Gary Monk, his staff and the players for a marvelous season. Long may it continue.

A Flying Visit to Blighty

Friday, May 15th, 2015

I was in England last week which proved very eventful. On Sunday, the Cambridges’ named their new baby girl Charlotte Elizabeth Diana which covers all bases. I came across a picture in one of the tabloids where a “Queen look a like” was changing the new arrival’s nappy. Priceless!


I barely survived the cattle truck which Delta Airline laughingly calls “Economy.” Delta is certainly economic with its space for passengers, time spent by flight attendants looking after passengers who also just happen to be paying customers, and very economic with the quality of food tossed at passengers.

I furtively negotiated my way through passport control and customs, and took a shuttle to pick up my rental car. Luckily it was a Bank Holiday and the roads were lightly trafficked, and my first destination was only an hour away. I spent the rest of the day  with my son and two of my grandchildren which was the main reason for my visit.

The following day I headed south west to visit with my daughter and two more grandchildren. The drive down to Devon from Aldershot on the A303 was very pleasant. There were swathes of  patches of yellow fields mingling with their green counterparts, and as the sun was breaking through the leaden skies. Stone Henge  appeared on the landscape. I’ve always claimed the best view of Stone Henge is driving along the A303. Stone Henge loses its mystique when viewed close up; rather like Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard.”

I was listening to the radio in the car when news broke that one of my football heroes, Jimmy Greaves, had suffered a massive stroke at the age of 75. He is arguably the greatest goal scorer of all time when you examine his goals to matches ratio. All his goals were scored in the cauldron of the top flight of English and fleetingly Italian football. Forty four goals in 57 appearances for England is a far superior strike rate compared to Bobby Charlton,  Lineker and Rooney. I wish you a speedy recovery Jim.

I was very fortunate to spend two days of quality time with my grandchildren before heading back  to reunite with my son and grand daughter. Aldershot is the home of the British Army the numbers of which have been drastically reduced in recent years. The Gurkha regiment based in Nepal was also a victim of Government cuts, but the actress Joanna Lumley campaigned successfully to have the British Government take care of ex Gurkha soldiers and their families. Little did she realize that hundreds of Nepalese would be housed in bed and breakfast guest houses which forced them onto the streets of Aldershot during the day. They aimlessly roam the streets until they can return to their accommodation. A number of Nepal restaurants has sprung up around the town to take advantage of the Gurkhas’ nomadic existence.


Thursday was time for the people to cast their votes in the General Election. The Polls were predicting a  hung Parliament with the possibility of Labour forming a coalition with the SNPs. Ed Miliband, leader of the Labor Party had produced an ill-conceived “Tablet of Stone” (literally) comprising his Party’s six pledges should they win the election.


I spent an entertaining night in my hotel room watching and listening avidly has the election results began to roll in. The political interviewers on British TV are for more savage on politicians than their American counterparts and I had really missed the cut and thrust of a British Election night.

The Conservatives surprised everyone including themselves by winning 330 seats and an outright majority. The Liberal Democrats who had formed a coalition Government with the Tories for the past five years were obliterated. Conversely the SNP (Scottish Nationals) won an unprecedented 58 seats re-igniting calls for independence for Scotland. Hello, didn’t they have a Referendum last September where 55% of the Scots voted against independence?

The following day I flew back to Atlanta, but not before I heard three Party Leaders, Ed Miliband (Labour,) Nick Clegg ( Liberal Democrats,) and Nigel Farge (UKIP) had resigned. Each in turn had been hapless, opportunist and fantasized to no avail. The British people had spoken.

Cheers mate.