The Russell Martin era at Swansea City will begin in earnest on the pitch on Saturday at Blackburn with promises of a change in style and bringing back the entertainment side of the game which has been so sadly missing over the course of the last couple of years.
There was definitely part of the last two years of watching on streams with – largely – a Swans commentary team that made it a hard watch but we should not lose sight of the fact that a Steve Cooper team is not an attractive watch at the best of times.
There is little doubt that Cooper was capable of getting results. Two play off campaigns in two seasons tells you that but if you reflect back on the past two years and the games that you watched (whether it was pre, during or post lockdowns) there would be very few that stood out as entertaining encounters full of chances for the Swans.
Let’s be straight here we are not expecting smooth football all the time but I will never forget a play off final at Wembley where a Steve Cooper side failed to turn up and as a result failed to register a shot on target. The richest game of football was rewarded with the poorest performance seen by a team in many years. That game, for me, summed up the Steve Cooper era at Swansea and it is one that I am glad to see behind me.
Russell Martin seems to be clear in his philosophy. He wants his team to entertain, he wasn’t to make them good to watch from the touchline and he wants to bring back ‘The Swansea Way’ all of which will be music to the ears of the average Swansea fan.
However, that same average fan needs to remember that these things will not change overnight. Martin has to overturn a couple of years of negative style-stifling football where players have been coached to be naturally negative and creativity has been sadly lacking for so long. It’s difficult to know if we have the players who want to play the Martin way or not. If we do, the style may change quicker than we are anticipating but if we haven’t then it will take time to develop before we see the results of the work of the coaching staff.
If it is the case that it will need to be longer then we, as fans, need to be patient. This may well be a season of transition. We may not challenge heavily at the top but so long as we are clear of the bottom then this is OK. Things rarely change overnight and it is fair to say that Russell Martin seems to have a totally different philosophy to Steve Cooper and that will take time to embed into the playing squad.
The good news is Martin has his team with him and we have Alan Tate remaining from knowing what the Swans is all about. Tate’s continued inclusion in the first team coaching squad is welcomed and Martin will make it clear to his squad this morning what he is looking for and how he intends to get there.
But we reiterate patience from us as fans is needed to allow this transition to take place. As we prepare to return to the games after so long away (two pretty poor play off performances apart) we cannot afford to get irritated and critical if we lose a game but I do have confidence that we will get there and I actually don’t think it will take as long as maybe it feels it should.
The main thing is that we get back to enjoying the way that we play football, people start to recognise us again for that style and we don’t need to continue to bring books to games to pass the time in between action.
Welcome back to The Swansea Way – you have been missed.
This article was first published on August 2 2021.