Archive for April, 2018

Capitulation in Transition

Friday, April 27th, 2018

I know that Manchester City are deservedly Premiership Champions, and Swansea City are in 17th place, four points above the relegation zone. But that is no excuse for the abject embarrassing performance they produced last Sunday. From the moment they formed a guard of honour  for the newly crowned Champions, they resembled Welsh lambs going to the slaughter.

Their body language revealed to me that they were resigned to defeat and their goal (one measly shot from a defender in ninety minutes) was damage limitation. Well, how did that work out for you fellas, 0-5 which could have been double that score if wasn’t for Fabianski in goal.

Carvahal has done a great job since he was appointed on December 28th. They were bottom and five points adrift from safety when he replaced Paul Clement, and currently they are four points above the relegation zone. But to claim it was a good performance when you have laid down and died is delusional.

Didn’t it escape his notice that Liverpool have beaten Manchester City three times this season by defending from the front?In contrast we allowed them to bring the ball up to the halfway line before attempting a challenge. Sheer lunacy!!! What’s the point in playing a back five when none of whom can tackle properly? City have some great playmakers, but they utilize a holding midfield player in the shape of Fernadhino. None of the Swans midfield trio know how to tackle or mark an opposing player.

There’s a reason why City appeared to have 15 players on the pitch compared to the Swans’ pathetic outfield players. They pass the ball accurately, they control the ball instantly, they don’t give the ball away needlessly, they are constantly on the move finding space, they defend in numbers when the opposition occasionally has possession of the ball. It is embarrassing to reveal that City enjoyed 83% possession of the ball.

Neither do I understand a system where the Swans utilized three center backs to mark one player, Jesus, when the main danger was emerging from the flanks. Speaking of which, the full backs Naughton and Olsson, were completely outclassed by their opponents. The Swans’ three midfield players, Ki, Carroll and King were overrun by the ingenuity and skill of De Bruyne and Silva, but what has happened to basic man marking? Ki looked disinterested and was mercifully substituted in the second half. The diminutive Tom Carroll looks totally out of his depth. On the rare occasions he had possession, he continually passed the ball to the opposition.

Now for my pet peeve this  season. Americans commentating on football overuse the phrase “in transition.” Definition of transition: ” the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. Isn’t that what football is all about? Moving the ball from defence to attack is the primary concept of football. The late great Danny Blanchflower once said that football is a simple game where it only takes a second to score a goal. In contrast, American commentators are determined to treat the game as almost a science. What on earth does playing between the lines mean?

I was quite optimistic  a month ago that the Swans could preserve their Premiership status, but recent results have cast a grave doubt in my mind. They have not won a game since March 3rd although three draws have yielded 3 points keeping their heads above water.

There are four games remaining to save their season. Chelsea come to town on Saturday, and based on last week’s performance I don’t expect any return. Bournemouth away will follow. They are a good mid table team capable of playing the Swans off the park. Then comes the crunch. The final two games of the season are at home against Southampton and Stoke, both of whom are languishing in the bottom three who will be fighting tooth and nail to take maximum points from the Swans.

It is fairly obvious to anyone who has followed the Swans that the squad is in need of a major overhaul irrespective of whether they are playing in the Premiership or Championship next season. Whoever has been responsible for transfers over the last few seasons should be shown the door before rebuilding is contemplated.


All Along the Panhandle

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

It seems quite a long time ago now (no, not in the galaxy) but it was in the month of February that we spent a fortnight (two weeks for American readers) traversing Florida’s Panhandle. What we like about the Panhandle is that some of the sections remain “old Florida”, and have not been engulfed by multi-storey condos and hotels,  and festooned with night clubs and bright lights.

We made three major stops on route, and I decided to make the remainder of my post into a diary, primarily because my memory has more holes in it than the common to garden, or should that be kitchen, sieve.

Day 1-Panama City Beach. Ate at Hook’s Pier Bar and Grill. Excellent gumbo and fish tacos. Great view of gulf and pier.

Day 2– Watched pelicans from  the beach having  a feeding frenzy. Then the heavens opened-cozy though snuggling up in our beach house.

Day 3- Bike rides over to Bay River Bridge. Stopped for lunch at BFE, hole in the wall place. Best Food Ever-great brisket sandwich. Their barbecue pastrami wasn’t too shabby either.

Day 4-Checked out Shell Bay, St. Andrews State Park. Visited the in -laws for  appetizers and drinks in their 21st floor condo. Watched the  Opening ceremony of Winter Olympics while continually stifling a yawn.  Gee whiz, we’re missing the Senior Prom which apparently is a special event in these quarters. Make a note of  Det Cajun Place for future visits.

Day 5- Martin Theatre for the Mersey Beatles. Bayou Joe’s for lunch. Funky Mermaid for nightcap. Pastrami sandwiches for supper. This was a mixed bag of events, akin to a selection of liquorice allsorts, but it all dovetailed perfectly. As an added bonus, my wife picked up a leather jacket for $20. What a bargain!

Day 6– heavy rain, stayed indoors. One walk along the beach in between the deluge. Our kindles came into their own once again.

Day 7– left for Cape San Blas. Drove through Tindall Air Force Base, continued onto Port St. Joe before arriving at our destination. Stayed at a Studio apartment which was compact but very comfortable. Excellent beach sunset, great boardwalk over the marshes to the bay. The only downside was we couldn’t see either views from the apartment windows which was contrary to what was described in the rental advertisement.

Day 8- Kayaking on the bay  at Sand Flea Rentals. Made friends with Ossie, a mix of collie and Australian Shepherd. My wife is a natural kayaker leaving me in her wake while I thrashed around like a beached sea lion. Visited St. Joseph Peninsula State Park which has a beautiful white sand beach with sand dunes thrown in the mix. It reminded me of how Port Eynon in Gower used to look like when I was knee high to a grasshopper.

Day 9- Valentine’s Day. Walk along the beach for good measure. Visited Indian Pass Raw Bar which specializes in oysters. Their baked oysters with butter, garlic and parmesan cheese toppings were excellent. Scallop Republic, a relatively new bar, resembled God’s waiting room. Dinner at Sunset Grill in Port St. Joes. I had the deep fried whole flounder which was excellent. My wife had  shrimp and grits which she gave an 8/10 rating. Night cap at the Thirsty Goat which provided a cozy and pleasant atmosphere.

Day 10-Leave CSB for Orange Beach. Uneventful trip to Perdido Key (41/2 hours.) where we were renting a condo. Very luxurious, but arrived to drilling from another apartment. Beautiful views of Gulf from 5th floor balcony.

Day 11– Woke to a sundrenched day. Went for a dolphin cruise around Orange Beach, spotted about a dozen dolphins along the way. The late Fara Fawcett’s beach house got a mention bringing a wry smile to those who remembered the seventies. Had dinner at Flora Bama Bar, so named because it’s located on the state line. Food was okay. Very unique bar with several bands playing continuously in different rooms.

Day 12– Lunch at Sea & Suds. Good location on the beach at Gulf Shores, but a highly recommended gumbo specialty was very average. Played golf at Lost Key Club-delightful course for the money. Ordered takeaway at Lilian’s Pizza. Very good. Threw a wobbly outside Flora Bama Bar and returned to base.

Day 13-Return home with mixed feelings. We loved the remoteness of Cape San Blas and the immediate area, but didn’t care for the overdevelopment and commercialism of Orange Beach and Panama City Beach. At the end of the day (excuse the cliché) it’s all a matter of personal taste and choices.




Carry On Camping

Monday, April 9th, 2018

I had not been camping since the year dot. The last time I spent some time under canvas was when I was a boy scout with the 7th St. Michael’s Troop based in Manselton, Swansea. My lasting memory of my scout camping exploits was setting the tent on fire with an innocuous lighted candle only to be awoken by the screams of young pimply teenagers who were sharing the sleeping quarters  with me. Mercifully the fire was quickly extinguished, and nobody was injured except my ego.

Consequently, it came as a surprise when my wife suggested we go camping. I furtively agreed to give it a try, and she proceeded to acquire the necessary equipment to make the experience as comfortable as possible. By the time we were ready to embark on our first camping trip, she had assembled the following equipment: state of the art tent with fly sheet and ground sheet, two comfortable cots, two specialized pillows, camp stove, a stainless steel whistling kettle, sleeping bags and a portable light.

We left for Vogel State Park in North Georgia where my wife had made sure we had access to water, restrooms and electric outlet. The weather forecast for the first night indicated that the temperature would tumble down to a mere 24 degrees fahrenheit and like a big girl’s blouse I decided to take an electric blanket. That was a great decision.

My wife and I have  different skills to bring to the table; she is the queen of erecting the tent  and I’m a pyromaniac. She had pitched the tent in approximately 15 minutes, and by the same token I had a roaring firing going  ready to roast our hotdogs and samores. We read on Trip Advisor that a little country store sold firewood a couple of miles outside the park. We were undecided about the quantity we should purchase: 10 logs for $5, 50 logs for $20. Would we burn 50 logs over three nights? You can be damn sure we did!!!

We battened down the hatches for the night, and boy was it freezing. My balaclava was a blessing covering every facial feature except my eyes. Harmed with my electric blanket,  I was snug as a bug in a rug until the damn thing decided to turn itself off. I got up in the middle of the night to go to the rest room, and discovered they had provided heaters inside the public conveniences. A thought crossed my mind to stay in there until daylight, but then a guilty conscience got the better of me and I reluctantly returned to the tent.

The morning temperature had not improved much overnight, but I managed to quickly light a fire, and we were soon  drinking coffee and eating bacon butties which improved morale immeasurably. We decided on a 4 mile hiking trail up to Blood Mountain, but it proved a bridge too far for me. It didn’t help wearing four layers of clothing  when the temperature had improved considerably. It appeared at every half mile, I was shedding a layer of clothing and looking and feeling most forlorn and dejected. I had one shred of comfort in as much we reached Blood Mountain Wilderness. Hamburgers were on he dinner menu accompanied by copious amounts of wine.

The next day we embarked on a gentle walk around the lake in the park taking in a “man made” waterfall. We returned to the tent and had a spot of lunch. By 3.00 pm it was raining heavily and we retreated inside. We didn’t leave the tent until 8.00 am the following morning apart from trips to the restrooms and setting up the slow cooker in the tent’s vestibule to provide chili for dinner. Note to  potential campers: a pack of cards and individual kindles are essential requirements for spending several hours in a tent.

It was still raining the next morning which meant dismantling the tent and packing the car with our gear during very unsympathetic weather conditions. A few cross words were exchanged during the process, but within an hour we were ready to hit the road. Not so fast my friend. The car battery was flat, and my wife was forced to use her feminine charm to borrow jump leads from a neighboring camper who kindly hitched his truck to the leads.

Notwithstanding the weather conditions, I had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to go again.