Archive for November, 2016


Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Swansea City’s remarkable 5-4 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday could prove to be the defining moment of a season where for the large part they have struggled desperately, and the prospect of  relegation has reared its ugly head prematurely . The scoring sequence between the two teams needs to be seen to be believed:

0-1 Palace (Zaha,19)

1-1               (Sugurdsson, 36)

2-1 Swans  (Fer, 66)

3-1              (Fer, 68)

3-2 Swans (Tomkins, 75)

3-3              (Cork, own goal 82)

3-4 Palace (Benteke, 84)

4-4              (Llorente, 90+1)

5-4 Swans  (Llorente, 90 +3)

The teams shared the spoils in the first half  scoring a goal apiece. Zaha shrugged off two Swans defenders to plant the ball in the corner of the net, and Sigurdsson equalized   with a sublime free kick as only he can.

Sixty six minutes had elapsed and the game had the hallmarks of two struggling teams going through the motions settling for a point apiece. However, Bob Bradley decided to replace Wayne Rutledge with much maligned Spanish striker, Llorente and suddenly all hell broke loose.

Sigurdsson was involved in all four goals in the second half because they came from his set pieces. From a Sigurdsson corner, substitute Llorente flicked the ball into the goal mouth and Leroy Fer stabbed the ball home from close range. Two minutes later, Fer scored an almost identical goal and the Swans were suddenly and remarkably leading 3-1.


One could only assume with a two goal lead and only 22 minutes remaining the Swans would coast home and achieve only their second win of the season. However alarm bells began ringing in my head when Mo Barrow was substituted for veteran full back, Rangel to seemingly bolster the defense. You know the old maxim, “What we have, we hold.”

Palace put paid to “Plan A” by getting one back in the 75th minute from an innocuous corner, and the ball was bundled in the back of the net. In the space of nine minutes Palace scored three goals to turn the game on its head. The second came from a routine cross by Zaha which glanced off Jack Cork’s head into the roof the net from twenty yards away. In the 84th minute, the Swans hanging on desperately for a point, again failed to clear their lines and Benteke poked the ball into the net from all of 5 yards. Indeed, six of the goals scored in the second half were from within the six yard box.


I could not believe what I was seeing, and convinced that the team had no hope in hell in coming back,  I turned my television off in disgust and despair. How could a team surrender a two goal lead and be trailing 3-4 within the space of 16 minutes? Quite simply, the Swans’ defense is diabolical. Schoolboys would be embarrassed to concede the soft goals given up by their senior counterparts.


About an hour later, I went to the internet to confirm the result, and to my shock and awe, the Swans had pulled victory from the jaws of defeat. Another cliché, but what does it matter. Llorente was obviously encouraged by his assist for Fer’s goal, and miraculously  conjured up two poacher’s  goals in injury time to win the game for the Swans.

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Could this prove to be the turning point of the Swans’ season? It could very well provide a spring board to better times, and inject much needed confidence  into a squad of players bereft of ideas, ability and nous. Let’s not be under any false illusions here, and I refrain from using another cliché; one swallow doesn’t make a summer. The defense is woeful, and in clear need of a strong commanding experienced central defender. Didn’t Ashley Williams, prematurely sold to Everton, fit the bill in all those categories?

It was an extraordinary game and not for the faint hearted. Yes, the players and management should take heart from this result, but at the same time they must remind themselves every minute of every day that a great deal of work needs to be done to improve on Saturday’s performance, no matter how heroic or exciting, if they are to avoid relegation. In Sigurdsson we trust, a truly class act worthy of a bigger stage.


It’s A Train Wreck

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Swansea City AFC: Played 11 Won 1 Drawn 2 Lost 8 = 5pts = Relegation.

We are over a quarter of the way through the Premiership, and Swansea City are languishing in the bottom two, staring relegation abruptly in the face. The warning signs were there for all to see last season, but an improbable away win against Arsenal poured some energy into a struggling team who managed to finish a credible twelth. Chairman Huw Jenkins, realizing the near calamity of relegation, assured supporters that such a situation would not happen again and moves would be put in motion to ensure the club’s position in the Premiership.

He certainly made a dynamic move in the summer by selling 70% of the club to Americans. A few games into the season, they sacked hapless Italian manager, Francesco Guidolin, and replaced him with, surprise, surprise, an American Coach, Bob Bradley. Bradley was coaching Le Havre in the French second division, but has no experience of coaching in a top league in Europe let alone the Premiership.

Bradley has been in charge for four games from which he has gained one point with a disappointing draw against Watford. Last Saturday, they conceded three goals in a disastrous first half to Manchester United who they themselves had not played well of late. The National and American Media responded to a  diabolical performance by a once proud Swansea City:

Chris Nathan, Wales Online

“A mess on the pitch, anger in the stand and no real identity-Swansea City are in dire straits:” Chris Nathan, Wales Online football journalist.

Alan Shearer, BBC Match of The Day

It was the most abject, embarrassing 45 minutes of football I have seen in a long, long time from any team at any level:” .

Stuart James, The Guardian

Second from bottom in the Premier League and having picked up only two points from a possible 30 since their victory at Burnley on the opening day, Swansea are sleepwalking towards the Championship. The lack of commitment in the first half, when United had so much space and time on the ball, was arguably more worrying than the shortage of quality.”

Rory Smith, The New York Times

“The mounting discontent among supporters suggests that rapid change has not been universally welcomed. Results make it hard to disagree: Swansea has not won a game since the opening day of the season; Bradley has picked up just 1 point from his first four matches in charge. The club is 19th in the Premier League, with the same point total as rock-bottom Sunderland. The threat of relegation to a lower division is very real.”


Dejected Swansea City players against Manchester United

Ian Ladyman, Daily Mail

In South Wales the hopeless nature of his team’s performance will be picked over. It is one point from four games on his watch. But in a wider context, his team’s part in what happened at the Liberty Stadium will sink to sub-plot level. Certainly the American will hope so. Swansea are a physically small team lacking in fundamental fight so this United team was able to impose itself with ease.”

Graham Clutton, the Independent

“With only one league win this season, the club is sitting uncomfortably in the bottom three. And they played like a side destined for the drop. For the first time since their arrival at the top table, the home supporters turned on their side.”

Jim White, The Telegraph

If only he could play Swansea every week, Jose Mourinho’s job would be easy. Against a team doing a good impression of having given up all hope of remaining in the Premier League, his Manchester United looked for much of this game as if all the goal-free miseries of recent weeks were an illusion.”

The Swans have had four managers in less than twelve months: Gary Monk, Alan Curtis (in a caretaker roll,) Francesco Guidolin and now Bob Bradley. Bradley is not entirely to blame for this sorry mess that the Swans find themselves in. He inherited a squad which  lost its rudder and lynchpin when Ashley Williams was transferred to Everton. I felt it was good business at the time receiving 12 million pound for a 32 year old defender, but I assumed they would sign a suitable, younger replacement.

Instead they paid Barnsley 5 million pounds for Alfie Mowson and 3 million for Mike Van de Horn both of whom are too raw and inexperienced to be thrown in the deep end together. They have another central defender, Fernandez, who two years ago was playing in the World Cup for Argentina, but is now missing in action.

Ki is captain of South Korea,  Neil Taylor played left back in the Wales team which reached the semi-finals of the European Championships, Jefferson Montero terrorized Chelsea’s defense not too long ago. None of those players are showing commitment to the cause which is mystifying to the average supporter.

Something was amiss with the Club in the summer. They had the opportunity to re-sign former player Joe Allen who had a wonderful European Championships, but was allowed to join Stoke. Swansea had a shot in signing another former player on loan, Wilfried Bony, but instead chose to pay 15 million for Borja, a virtually unknown Spanish striker who isn’t  setting the world on fire in the goal scoring stakes. It was somewhat ironic that Bony scored two goals for Stoke against the Swans with two assists provided by Joe Allen.

Putting it bluntly, the current squad is simply not good enough to compete in the Premiership, the transfer window in January will arrive too late to save them. Statistically, most teams languishing in the bottom three at Christmas are relegated. Neither do I see three teams worse than the Swans.

It’s been an enjoyable six seasons in the Premiership, and winning the League Cup (or whatever its called these days) was icing on the cake, but I’m afraid the party is over folks. Just as well the owners decided to put increasing the seating capacity of the stadium on hold. R. I. P.