When the fixture list was drawn up last June (or was it July this year I cannot remember) the visit of Derby County was down to be the last home game of the season. And technically it is although of course there will be the small matter of a play off semi final to come in a week or so.
Much has happened since that fixture list was drawn. For the Swans they have flirted for a reasonable amount of the season with automatic promotion but had to settle for the play offs. Many fans believe this is not deserved but over a 46 game league season the league table will never lie. Steve Cooper has been hated, loved and hated in equal measure and, incredibly to those watching outside of the fanbase, even promotion may not save him another season in the hot seat.
For Derby things have changed much more. For a start their name has changed to “Wayne Rooney’s Derby County” as the former England captain not just arrived to play but eventually took over from Cocu in the manager’s hot seat. It now gives Sky an additional obsession with them and it is rare that any report of them goes by without the mention of Rooney in their title. Given the game is on Sky this afternoon you will need the hands of all the crowd who are not able to attend due to the pandemic to count the number of times they reference him during the ninety minute commentary.
But back to the Swans. Play off spots were all tied up last weekend and we know that we will compete with Brentford, Bournemouth and Barnsley for a place in the Premier League so now it is about jostling for position. Brentford could secure 3rd place this afternoon but with the other three all level on points it really does make for an interesting week on who ends up where.
Largely many will tell you it makes little difference but whilst 4th and 5th play each other, the highest placed side gets to be home in the second leg. That would certainly always seem to be an advantage with crowds in the stadium but with empty grounds I am not so sure it is any more? You could also argue for the Swans that we seem to play better away from home (we have just 1 point from the last 4 games at the Liberty) so maybe it matters more to be 5th or 6th rather than 4th. Or would we want to avoid Brentford again which means 4th or 5th is the aim? So many possibilities.
And then there remains the question of what Steve Cooper will do. It was assumed earlier in the week that he would play a weakened side resting his players for the play offs but whilst he has suggested that will be the case for Ayew (rightly) he is giving little indication that this – and the visit to Watford next week – will be treated as anything other than the same as other games. Time I guess will tell on that one.
“We want to use these two games to finish strongly and pick up points,” said Cooper ahead of today’s game.
“We’ve already got seven more points than what we had last season, with two games left to play.
“We want to try and add to that in the games coming up, starting with Derby.”
Rooney will bring his side to the Liberty knowing that they should stay up but they still have to do some work to secure another year of Championship football whilst the right result for them today could seal the fate of Wycombe, Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham all in the same afternoon.
“We have to just keep pushing and trying to get the win. A win on Saturday would be a huge result for us that leads us into the last game of the season. We are giving it our full attention and focus to get our preparation right for Saturday” said Rooney ahead of the game.
Team news will be released from the Liberty around 2pm, kick off is at 3pm on Sky Sports and of course our matchday thread is available for those of you who like to tap away on the keyboard before, during or after the game – we are always happy to see your thoughts so please do pop to the forum and have a read here
Things could be clearer come 5pm or they could not be but either way let’s enjoy the game and the main thing is we want a win and some good form, is that really too much to ask?