Swansea City’s automatic promotion hopes are as good as over after another pathetic display this evening, this time at Birmingham City. One penalty saved by Woodman, one scored by Hogan was the pretty simple summary of a crap game of football on the back of another crap Swansea City performance.
Steve Cooper made two changes to the side that started our last league game almost two weeks ago and recalled Korey Smith and Jamal Lowe into the starting line up leaving Conor Hourihane and Morgan Whittaker having to be content with a place on the bench.
Injury concerns over both Andre Ayew and Marc Guehi proved unwarranted as both started the game with pressure increased on the Swans thanks to Watford’s win earlier on in the day.
After two games with barely a shot on target the Swans started brightly and tested Etheridge inside six minutes with a powerful shot from Lowe from just inside the area that the home keeper parried away for a corner. It was a good start from a player who has lacked confidence in recent weeks and showed that maybe the international debut and goal for him last week could work in our favour.
It was a rare and only chance though for the Swans in an opening twenty minutes to the game that saw much play in midfield but very little from either side in the final third of the pitch with Birmingham’s main chance in this period coming with a header wide from a cross ball from the right hand side.
As Birmingham started to get on top in the game they were gifted a perfect chance to take the lead when a foul from Connor Roberts earned them a penalty. Thankfully, Freddie Woodman has a good record on penalties and saved his fifth for the Swans of the eight he has faced with his inner thigh, no doubt a save that will still have the stinging effects tomorrow morning!
Highlights in the first half were very much few and far between. The Swans had theirs inside the first six minutes whilst the penalty miss/save was all really the home side could muster during the opening period. Birmingham were the better side during the opening 45 minutes but make no mistake when you say you could probably class them as “less shit” and it would be a more accurate description. It was therefore with a grateful listen that the half time whistle blew after two more minutes of stoppage time.
No changes at half time is largely as predictable as a Matt Grimes pass and came on the back of another poor first half from the Swans. If the international break was to give freshness to tired legs in the squad then the first half suggested that tired legs was the least of our problems in the lead up to that break.
The Swans did start the second half a little more on the front foot but, as we have become accustomed to, goalmouth action was very much at a premium and all too often we saw long balls played from the back to little effect. Indeed, it was easy as the game ticked past the hour mark to forget that Andre Ayew was on the pitch such was the lack of service we were providing to the front men.
Once again it had become a game that was crying out for changes but on the touchline the Swansea manager was unmoved and seemingly unlikey/unwilling/unable to make any changes which suggests that he was happy with what he was seeing, something that at 65 minutes not many Swans fans would be in agreement with.
It was Yan Dhanda that Cooper turned to for his first change of the evening when he replaced Smith on 70 minutes. And Dhanda pulled a save out of Etheridge almost immediately from a direct free kick but it was a simple save for the keeper but in these days of poor football we have to be grateful for small mercies when we have a shot on target, no matter how easy they are to save.
Football has been without crowds now for 13 months and with games like this it is difficult to see why crowds would ever return. At least the benefit of watching these games on TV is that you always have the option of alternative ‘entertainment’ or maybe cataloguing your CD collection into alphabetical order.
We have become more increasingly difficult to watch in recent weeks. This is certainly not a side that is pushing for promotion to the Premier League despite our league position and it certainly isn’t a side good enough to win through a play off battle. You only have to watch Norwich, Watford, Brentford and even Barnsley to watch teams that are better than us and certainly far more pleasing on the eye.
As the home side made change number 4 and 5 for the evening, the cameras captured a solemn looking Steve Cooper on the touchline. Sadly for us he looked like a man not ready to make more changes of his own. There were less than 10 minutes left and we were struggling to break down a side that has lost 12 times at home this season already – the worst home record in the Champioship.
This really is the bit that I find incredible. Every person watching this game could see that we lacked anything in the game to worry Birmingham and yet we had a manager and a host of coaching staff who just were not prepared to make a change when it was so obviously desperately needed.
On behalf of Swansea City fans everywhere I feel it necessary to apologise to any neutrals watching on Sky Sports this evening. For the avoidance of any doubt this game is total shit.
— Planet Swans (@swansnews) April 2, 2021
Cooper has become entirely predictable in his approach to games, his tactics and his starting line ups. Even his subs are predictable but the appearance of Wayne Routledge in the 88th minute must be done for appearance money and nothing else. Still, at least it gave Cooper the chance to sub Jamal Lowe for the 25th time in his 34 league starts this season. A pretty impressive stat by anyone’s reckoning.
As the game headed into injury time, the pivotal moment of the game happened when Dhanda was adjudged – somewhat harshly – to have fouled a Birmingham player and the second penalty of the evening was awarded. This time around there was no heroics from Woodman and Hogan’s brilliant penalty found the back of the net and the Swans were beaten once again. It was pretty much what we deserved from the game. Nothing.
Cooper finished his piss take for the night by sending on Whittaker for the remaining 90 seconds of the game – WHY STEVE, WHY? – but what was that going to achieve. We are a negative, turgid side to watch right now and there is every chance that I may do something more enjoyable on Monday afternoon. For the first time in Cooper’s reign we have lost three games on the bounce, nobody with any common sense would back against it becoming four on Monday.
At least now we can officially forget about a battle for the top two and use the next eight games as preparation for the play offs. Lee Trundle talked about “playing out of comfort zones” when summing up the match on Sky Sports but that is something completely alien to most of our playing squad and certainly our manager.
We came into this game on the back of the best part of a two week break. Even those of us that would have hoped to see a change in the way we played the game can see that tonight it just isn’t there. This is not a top two side, those chances have long since passed us by. The best we can hope for now is a play off spot which should just about be all but assured but we do seem to be trying our best to give others a chance to overtake us there as well. Good Friday? No, not really.
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