4.5 C
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Home First Team Cooper has taken our identity away - how do we change that?

Cooper has taken our identity away – how do we change that?



Why not enter our Prediction League?  It’s free and fun to enter and runs throughout the season.  Click here for details

For the first time since he was appointed back in the summer of 2019, the Swans have lost three straight games under Steve Cooper.   Three games where we have failed to find the net, failed to find any points, failed to find many shots on target and also – quite often – failed to find our own men with even the simplest of passes.

Lee Bowyer summed it up for me last night when he said that we were predictable.  OK they may not have been the words that he actually used but it was effectively what he was saying when he stated that we play the same way every week and it was pretty clear that he had seen that and worked out the easy way to cancel us out.

And cancel us out he did but make no mistake from last night you could have read pretty much that comment in relation to any of the 10 league games we have played since we touched close to the league leaders after beating them at the Liberty at the start of February.

Defeats to Huddersfield, Bristol City, Bournemouth, Cardiff and now Birmingham say it all.    Sky summed it up last night ahead of the game when they said that half our defeats this season had come in the last nine games as had half the goals we have conceded.  Steve Cooper has turned this side negative and now not only are we not pleasant to watch but we are not even getting the results that give some comfort to the fact that we are dreadful.

This has largely been the case over his reign at Swansea.   Prior to lockdown games were not fun to watch (look back and think about how many times you left a game thinking “that was brilliant, we are a good team”) and even after lockdown he stumbled across a new formation and has stuck rigidly to it ever since.   That then plays itself nicely into Lee Bowyer’s comments.   Sure, it was working but when it stopped working a good manager will change it around.   The Sky commentators referenced Bowyer doing that since his arrival with his own formation so we know it to work.

We are supposedly pushing for promotion to the Premier League.  For the last three games (and a significant few before that) we have looked anything like a side pushing for promotion.   We are not a passing side, we are not a possession side, we are not a creative side, hey at times we don’t even look like a football side.   When you look at that last sentence it tells you what you need to know we no longer have an identity and that hurts for me far more than the results that have started to turn against us.

Even sides that we have criticised heavily over the years have an identity.  It may not have been one that we wanted to associate with but you knew what you would get from the likes of a Pulis’ Stoke side or a Warnock Cardiff side.  You know what you can expect from an Allardyce or a Mark Hughes but the closest we have to an identity these days is just that we are not very good.   Not good to watch, not good at the basics and now we have even got to the point where we are not good at getting last minute disputed penalties.   Which frankly is the only thing that has kept us in touch with the top end of the table over the past few weeks.

I woke up this morning still incredulous at the decisions of the manager last night.   Connor Roberts and Andre Ayew looked out on their feet from the first minute.   We all knew they needed a break but they will never get them.  Cooper reverted back to a – yes Mr Bowyer we get it – predictable starting line up with his three “same mentality” midfielders and hoping that his backline will do the job he wants.    When it was obvious it wasn’t working (again) subs were needed but they did not happen.  Until of course the predictable one just after the hour which was always going to be Dhanda or Hourihane for Smith or Fulton.   You can perm any combination from that.

That was it as Birmingham made changes around him until the 88th minute when it was Routledge for Lowe.  Please never suggest our manager is predictable but this was the 25th time in 34 league starts this season that he has subbed Jamal Lowe.   It is his default substitution.  Check the seasons appearance stats (here) and you will see that nobody comes close – Dhanda is next when he has been subbed 11 times in his 13 starts.  So we know at some point that will happen – watch for it on Monday it is a certain winner in the Steve Cooper bingo card.

And then we had the final one.   The laughable one.  Hogan scores a 91st minute penalty so our (non) predictable manager throws on Morgan Whittaker to replace Kyle Naughton.  (Incidentally Naughton is 3rd in the list of Cooper’s favourite people to take off with 9)    Steve there are two minutes left, you have just gone a goal down and you make a change.   At this point you may as well not bother, the game needed it with 20/30/40 minutes to go (delete as appropriate) not at 1-0 down but if it ticks a box on the power point then I assume you think it is necessary.

These are all things that prove we have not so much lost our identity but deliberately abandoned it.   We don’t want to be any of the things that we aren’t any more (possession, passing, creative) and we certainly clearly don’t want to be in the Premier League.   The manager spent his post match conference with his (predictable) comments about training grounds, not doing the basics right, putting it right next game blah blah blah but simply put he doesn’t shoulder any of the blame personally.   When it is good it is down to him but when it is not then it is down to the players on the pitch.  Right now for Steve Cooper read Garry Monk.

It is clear something has to change.   A poll on this site created shortly after the final whistle last night suggests that two thirds of Swans fans would sack Steve Cooper (read more here) which is a pretty damming statistic for a side third in the table.   Whilst one forum regular commented last night that the matchday thread should be moved to the non football board.  I admit I was tempted to do it.

We won’t make a managerial change at this stage of the season but it has to be something under consideration for the way that things have gone horribly wrong.   It is times like this that managers are under the spotlight.   Norwich and Watford wobbled and their managers bought them through it.  Even our made Tommy at Brentford seems able to turn it round but Steve isn’t doing that.   Nothing is changing by way of play, performance or effort and that does start to suggest there isn’t much left to try and change.  Other than the obvious.

Right now though the thought of another game Monday doesn’t fill me with excitement.   Football is hard to watch as it is without crowds but last night it was on in the background effectively for a lot of the game as we are just not good to watch.   We did not lose to a good Birmingham side we lost to a Birmingham side who were just not as bad as we were.   And that was down to their manager seeing through ours as you and I see through a window.   Lee Bowyer is not a tactical masterclass of a manager but he has Cooper’s Swansea City sussed.

And that suggests we do have an identity under Steve Cooper after all.   One of being predictable.  Predictably rubbish.


What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment using the boxes below or pop over to our forums by clicking here and post them there.  If you are enjoying our content then please consider a like and a share using the buttons below.


  1. Spot on I’m getting vibes when we were struggling under Monk and for me Cooper has shown his limitations yes the man has done a fantastic job to get us where we are but we are playing some of the worst football I’ve seen us play since the days of Bob Bradley the club’s failure of not bringing in a proven no9 has come back to bite them every club in the championship has one but we don’t and that’s the owners fault but Cooper decided to piss about and wait for Liverpool to make a decision on Brewster when 99.9% of the fans knew he was being sold for me if we drop out of the play offs or don’t get promoted I think he should be sacked would you really give him another 2 year deal? I personally wouldn’t

  2. ‪Steve Cooper looked like he was lost last night. Players have to take responsibility but they need some guidance. He should be animated like he was at the Cardiff game every week!‬

  3. Whilst I can broadly agree with much of what is said we cannot ignore that the current predicament results from the strategic decisions taken by the board during Cooper’s reign. Frankly he has been dealt a poor hand by the American ownership. Without Cooper’s own knowledge and contacts in the loan market we would not have achieved anything like the positions we have been in over the past two seasons. Under another manager without those personal contacts this would not have happened. The legacy of the earlier and rotten sale by Jenkins et al to the Americans several years was always going to result in a downwards spiral. But for this season the complete failure of the Board to bring in a quality centre forward and greater creative flair and tenacity into the midfield has been the key reason why we now look tired and yes, predictable. There are no real game changers in the squad. Instead the self-serving decision by the Americans to bring in two injury prone, unproven, and clearly unfit American ‘soccer ‘ players in January rather than what was needed, is proving a massive own goal and is a missed golden opportunity to return to the PL. So yes we have concerns about the current lethargy of a team ‘dead on its feet’ likely now to drop like a stone, but in terms of the blame factor changing the manager (who’s stock remains high it seems with Crystal Palace amongst others) misses the point completely. No new manager is going to change the dynamic of the team unless the owners invest properly and in this case avoid the narcissistic tendencies which are displayed by most American owners of football clubs in the PL etc. We only have to look at the bench each week to know that there is insufficient quality at this level for Cooper to draw upon to change games when needed. Cooper has done well even though we all have question marks over the timing of his substitutions but in all honesty this a squad limited in genuine ability (apart from Ayew) which has been running on empty for a while now – and I suspect Cooper is in the same place as his players. There only one real place to look to blame and that is across the Atlantic.

    • Completely disagree. When Martinez took the jobs years ago he wasn’t given a bundle of money to build a team. He coached players, he defined a style and demanded we stick to it. The players bought into this and we got better…and better and the rest is in the history books. You could give Cooper millions and I guess the point this article is trying to make being that his coaching is showing a great improvement in the team. Constantly blaming the American owners, for whom I won’t defend, is a complete red herring!

      • To compare with the period in our history when Martinez became manager is a falsehood in itself. The club had not recently been in the PL and were not in the championship, in fact it had not long beforehand been close to going out of existence. There was no money and the only way to move forward was to try to develop from the bottom up. Unquestionably at that point there was good and progressive decision-making at Board level within what was then seen as a community driven team (an ethos sadly now in the past). Move on 15yrs or so the platform upon which a manager operates within the club is very different. The economics and expectation levels are a different world, therefore astute investment is fundamental in order the strengthen the squad at those points in time where there are obvious weaknesses. This did not happen, especially in the January window when the Owners vanity project of parachuting in unproven American players with very suspect injury records, was never going to be the answer needed. At the critical point the owners were found wanting (again).

        I certainly don’t condone the style of play and puzzling decisions made by Cooper in repeatedly putting out the same, tired line-up which has been sussed out by every other team. But because the squad has not received the level of investment needed for any team harbouring ambitions of promotion to the PL, the brutal fact remains that Cooper has not the depth of talent to draw upon when compared to several of the other teams around us.

        So yes there are legitimate questions about Cooper’s match-day decision-making but to entirely scapegoat him for the ills of the position in which we now find ourselves misses the far bigger picture of the downward direction in which this great club is heading. By sacking Cooper does this then mean that we are going to find ourselves back into the PL? No – the greatest tactician in the world will fail unless they are supported by an intelligent Board who make proper investment at the right time. We don’t currently have this in place at SCFC.

        My first game watching the Swans at the Vetch was when Ivor Allchurch was in the twilight of his career. There’s been many highs and lows over the years and much against my expectations over the past two seasons
        I have been surprised and excited by the possibility of a promotion push. What is sad about this year is that the owners’ mistakes in January are going to cost us and them dear. Whilst questioning Cooper’s decision-making i
        over the past few months is legitimate, scapegoating entirely him for a likely missed promotion with a tired and limited squad to draw upon is not – and misses the big picture completely.

  4. A time for Morgan to be given a chance up top andchange in formation especially in midfield
    Wing back play is too predictable midfielders need to take on the opposing team and beat them ,
    We need to stop passing back and play with a greater tempo
    We still have a chance to turn it around through the play offs

  5. We need players with the ability to carry the ball through the middle and challenge the defence. We. think te only way to goal is up the sides.

  6. I have been saying from the start, Cooper is overrated. His refusal to include certain players has led to us losing talent or having talent removed when loan players weren’t being picked.
    Since arriving he has no intention of developing and makes the same decisions as when he started … persistently picks out of form players and fails to make substitutions with any effect. (Trolley out the two examples of winning after making a substitution). He and his team, appear characterless, unable to motivate and quick to blame others. It has been said by many, Cooper is another Monk.
    We are not going to be promoted, even play offs appear in doubt. So let’s not mince words, Cooper has to go and soon.

  7. Fantastic article. Summed up what most knowledgeable swans fans have been thinking for some time. The results have largely distracted from some truly awful football. No plan no identify, no pattern or ambition. Not sure if Mr Cooper wants to get us promoted or just prove to other people he can look after a few youngsters. Brewster carried him last year and a few others his year but as a team we don’t really exist.
    I wouldn’t pay to watch this football, felt guilt SKY give us money to broadcast the rubbish.

  8. Yes. I agree with article as my brother who rarely agrees with me. We have bern wstching the swans for 57 and 59 yesrs respectively. Was there a single seansea city fan nit screaming at the tv last night for whittaker to he brought on with 20 minutes to go???
    To bring him on after we were 1-0 down after 92 minutes was a frightening decision. I think it was on the brink of delusion. I dont like criticising players nor coaches who we know want success as much as we do but what happened last night wasnt normal. I wish mr cooper, the coaches and the team the very best going forward.

  9. Have to agree 100%, Phil… I wish you were wrong though.

    Cooper is showing himself up as someone out of ideas, and it’s been this way for a long time now. Monk was the same. A self-identity of lofty aspirations with nothing to back it up – a false belief he can seriously still get us to the Premier League. He can’t. He’s not Brendan Rodgers who had the ability and courage to change formations and players.

    But can we seriously blame just Cooper, when the board appear inactive, disinterested and there’s no appetite for rediscovery? Our identity? Team spirit and a hunger for winning? Where is the price in playing well and the sheer joy in scoring?

    It’s more than Cooper. We need to stop kidding ourselves. We’re not a promotion chasing side until we start looking inwards with an aim of repairing the rot.

    I hope we can get to the Premier League again, I truly do… But we’re not under Cooper and certainly not while we have a dollar chasing board fixated on money over “real” investment, and with a fear of breaking eggs.

    It’s heart breaking.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Phil Sumblerhttp://www.planetswans.co.uk
Been watching the Swans since the very late 1970s and running the Planet Swans website (in all its current and previous guises since the summer of 2001 As it stood JackArmy.net was right at the forefront of some of the activity against Tony Petty back in 2001, breaking many of the stories of the day as fans stood against the actions where the local media failed. Was involved with the Swans Supporters Trust from 2005, for the large part as Chairman before standing down in the summer of 2020.

Next Up: Swansea City v Preston North End


Latest News