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“I have seen more entertaining things come out of GBNews” – a view on the Swans?

It is traditionally the start of the season when various fans from various clubs start looking around the division against all their upcoming opponents to give a view on the chances of each of those teams.

It has been seen also many times over the years that some of those websites come to us for an opinion on the Swans which we happily give especially those opponent sites that we have worked with over many years.

One of those sites is Loft for Words, an exceptionally strong QPR site that we have had close relationships with since the very early days of this website when it worked on the Rivals network under the guise.

So it was no real surprise that Clive, who runs the site, came to us last month to ask for some views on the Swans this season which we happily shared with him ahead of their own preview of the Swans.

I think it is fair to say that having read the finished preview (available here) that Clive is very much not a fan of the Russell Martin ‘process’ and makes you wonder if his view is typical of how the opposition fans see the Swans style of play.

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From the opening words of bemoaning 180 minutes of his life that he will never get back he moves into thinking of better things he could do with that time like ‘wallpapering a downstairs bathroom’ or ‘seeing how many times I can bounce a ball on the floor in 90 minutes and then trying to beat that record’ – certainly not someone who would want to watch us 46 times in a season anyway.

There are parts of the preview that are very easy to agree with and more than enough to raise a smile in terms of the way it is written and the viewpoint that has been taken.   Of course we all look back on last season not with memories of two games against QPR as Clive has to but some of the better performances stick in the memories (what you say Cardiff fans?) but there was plenty were you can resonate to the viewpoint of a QPR fan who has seen us play many times over the years.

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“They spent the final game of the season, almost in its entirety, trying and failing to execute a goal kick where the keeper played a one-two with a wide centre back and picked the return up on the edge of the box. The keeper, Alex (he means Andy) Fisher, who had presumably followed Martin from MK Dons specifically because he can do this sort of thing, palpably could not do this sort of thing.”

This was just another view of the games that was seen although it should easily be remembered that the last game of last season was a dead a rubber as you will ever see when there are dead rubbers around.

“I stand there watching this thinking… is it just me? Analytics accounts creaming their kegs, people falling over themselves to nosh this all off, £8m paid for central midfielder Flynn Downes, and yet there they were, fifteenth in the league,” one of Clive’s closing comments sums it up and nicely positions the challenge that is ahead of Russell Martin and his side this season.

Clive has it right.   The analytic accounts love it, the stats machines go into overdrive and the purists tell you all about “the Swansea way” and the high passing stats pretty much unrivalled across all the top divisions in Europe.   But 15th in the league with brilliant stats would be swapped by pretty much everyone for 5th place and a tenth of the stats.  That’s football and why the opposition will see us often as Clive does in his preview.

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The question that many have this season is what will previews like this look like at the end of the season when the dust settles on the league season ahead.   Will the Clives of this world be seen as a visionary who can see that the process was nothing more than something new that failed or “a Tony Pulis acolyte who thinks Sam Allardyce would have had the Dortmund job if he’d had a foreign name” (his words)

Time will tell

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  1. Lumping the ball forward is anathema to me. I like to see my team have control over how and where the game is played on the field. Some of the best moments for me have included Leon prompting and zipping the ball about with purpose and generating tempo, getting people moving and thinking, dragging the opposition around the park, playing in areas they dont want to play in.
    Russ vision appears to tick the box of control, but part of that control is to slow the game right down, playing the ball in front of the opposition hoping they’ll fall asleep. Its not as sleepy, dull as cooperball but theres not enough often enough to get you up out of the chair.
    I recognise the transition stage, the Swans having lost so much of the way to play. I hope the team evolution continues to develop, and Russ recognises that tempo can be found and should be restored to the process.

  2. While there were a few times last season where I thought the football was slow and ponderous, that QPR game does have to be taken with a pinch of salt, it was by far and away the worst. Leaving out the mitigating factor that it was a dead rubber game, it’s unfair to judge the 46 game season on what was no doubt the worst game.
    It also has to be said, no one is going to enjoy a match where their team only has 30-40% of the ball. At least if you are playing a team miles better than you, you can justify the lack of possession by saying “ah, well they are just far superior, the lads tried their heart out defending, good showing”. But the Swans are rarely streaks ahead of the opposition (unless it’s Cardiff…) so the oppositions view is “Jesus, we should be as good as them, why can’t we push up and get the damn ball off them?”. Negative talk like that is going to leave people with a bad taste in their mouth about the game as a spectacle.
    I think all that is missing from a top six finish is a bit more variance to the play. That doesn’t mean a change to more direct football when it’s not working, but maybe play more through the middle, or start pinging in more crosses from the wide positions etc. Don’t let the opposition get into a defensive rhythm which I think happens against us.

  3. And where is Steve Cooper now? In the PL with an exciting, attacking Forest team who will probably do quite well next season on their return to the top flight.

    Where did we finish last season under Russell Martin? 15th.

    Where did we finish in the previous 2 seasons under Cooper? In the play-offs.

    Cooper has proven himself to be a successful manager (and remains highly thought of at Liverpool) but Martin has yet to achieve and become successful. He certainly has to convince this season from a tactical perspective. Already defensively concerning against Rotherham where the defence performed in disappointingly a very similar vein to last season. Upping the tempo in every match will also be key, not just in the odd fixture. Otherwise the season will pan out as the QPR chap indicates.

  4. OMG – I wonder why other clubs bother commenting on other clubs when it appears they take very little on board. They have their opinion typecast into their minds that we play boring football under the brand of ‘the swansea way’?. Let’s all be honest, the way the Swans play is not for the weak hearted! – playing out from the back with often players not able to control the ball or make creative passes, leave us endlessly seeing a player attack and after making progress, they get confronted by the opposition, then lay the ball often backwards from where they came.

    This frustrates me endlesly to a point where I’m screaming at the telly or at the game to pass it forward. Obviously we do not have the forward thinking players you need to drive this form of football forward to success. Why are so many of our players making the same backward’s safe pass instrad of attacking the player in front of them? I’m sad to say this type of football just winds me up and does appear pass for the sake of it! Our current squad is not at the level this form of football requires, the fresh faces will need time to step up to the quality at this level. The Swans will again I believe be on the end of some high scores when we play the more physical sharp shooters. If we are to continue this form of play it could take years to assemble the squad to carry off this style with any effect – Premier League seems a long, long way off – QPR’s author probably sums up the opinion of the rest o the league!

Comments are closed.

Phil Sumbler
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 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.

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