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Swansea Corner

Here’s my weekly blog on Swansea City FC. I’ll be writing this for www.premiershipflavour.com


Elvis HASN’T left the building

In this third edition of the blog, a quick look at Swansea’s failure to sign Gylfi Sigurdsoon, Positives from the trip to OT, and why ELVIS hasn’t left the building

The Swans for Europe?

How far Swans have come from that fateful day 9 years ago? Swans struggling for their existence on the Pitch and off it, had to beat Hull City to maintain their Football League status.

Fast forward to 2012. Swansea had not only ensured a stay in the top flight for another year, they were actually hoping to sneak their way in Europe.

The Swans are currently on top of the Premier League Fair Play Rankings. As Dutch Eredivisie, Norwegian Tippeligaen and Finland’s Veikkausliiga have been granted an additional place in Europa League, Swans too, were hoping for an additional place in Europa League. However, due to the Premier League sitting low in 13th in the overall rankings, the Swans won’t get a chance to play European football.

In my opinion that this is a blessing in disguise – as there will be no extra distraction to possibly hinder their League progress. Of course, it would have been wonderful experience to travel across Europe and belt out ‘Swansea o Swansea.

#GetGylfi

The Swans board has acted wisely and swiftly to bid for Premier League March Player of the Month Gylfi Sigurdsson’s lone move from Hoffenheim to be made permanent. Gylfi’s performance for the Swans since his arrival in January has certainly upped his price. 7 goals and 3 assists in 16 appearances for the club meant this 22-year old Icelandic was no longer available for his January market value of £5.3million.

It is well understood that Swansea’s initial bid has been turned down by the Germans who want £8.2million him. It is becomes a problem with one of your Loaned in players delivers success and at the end of his loan term has to return to the old club. There’s nothing much other club can do about it. The call lies with the parent club.

Although Hoffenheim have promised Swans that they’ll be the first to know about any developments related to Gylfi’s future, it is believed that they are waiting for other clubs to bid him with more money.

Brendan Rodgers knows this well and has already met the Chairman to discuss summer targets. He was quoted, ‘ We have got a number of targets, we want to retain our hunger and at this level you have to always be striving to improve and we will be looking to bring in a number of players in order to do that.’

‘We want to keep developing; our work is continual on and off the field. We want to prepare as quickly as we can and in order to do that we want to bring in hungry players for next season.’

At the Theatre of Dreams

Away stand at the Old Trafford was packed on Sunday as thousands of Swans had headed north, much like Birds migrating from places to places.

With City winning 0-2 against Newcastle and almost but had sealed the title, United were playing with pretty depleted spirits. United had to score 9 goals to go ahead of City on goal difference and that was mere impossible task.

United squandered numerous chances before the half time and finally managed to lead with only 2-0 at the break. But Rodger’s side showed incredible resilience to keep United at the bay.

Considering it was their first ever visit to Old Trafford and many of the players stepping in the Theatre of Dreams for the first time in their lives, you can’t take anything away from the spirited performance.

Swansea didn’t budge from their style or play nor did they get intimidated. 81% passing accuracy and 6 shots on target at OT is certainly incredible.

It was wonderful gesture by Brendan Rodgers to introduce Alan Tate with moments of the match remaining. A decade long Swans stalwart defender who had captained at both youth and reserve level of United could make a comeback at the venue which surely had been his Theatre of Dreams.

Elvis HASN’T left the building.

If you look at the signings at the club this season, Only Danny Graham and Gyfil Sigurdsson do not belong to the bunch that has got Swansea promoted to the Premier League.

Huge credit goes to Brendan Rodgers to reward those heroics by sticking by them throughout the season.

Nothing can be more deserving for these hardworking players, support staff and everybody else involved with the club that final game of season to be played at Liberty Stadium. From Vetch Field on 3rd May 2003 to the Liberty Stadium on 13th May 2012, the journey has been incredible.

Believe you me; this is going to be one hell of a party place.

At the start of the season bookies had said ‘There was more chance of seeing Elvis Presley than Swansea staying at this level.’ And we will see thousands of Elvis flocking in at Season’s finale as Brendan Rodgers has appealed to the fans if as many fans can wear Elvis Presley costumes to the final home game.

Town of Swansea has been ‘Presleyd’ since all the costume shops are being bombarded with Elvis clothes and accessories. Most people are queuing up for Wigs and Glasses, many of them are asking for renting and buying costumes too.

With ‘Falling in Love with You’ being already a major hit in the stands, Final whistle will have the Liberty Stadium ‘ALL SHOOK UP’ with a guarantee.

I just hope fans don’t invade the pitch after the final whistle as everybody who has been associated with the club in this fantastic journey deserved a lap of honor.

Don’t rob them of that.

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Here’s my weekly blog on Swansea City FC. I’ll be writing this for www.premiershipflavour.com


All New Things

In this second edition of the blog, a quick look at what new things have happened at Swansea since the last week.

Having ensured another season in the Premier League, Swans have embarked on a new journey where they are trying everything new. New Formation, New score line and New away Kit.

The Prophecy:

I remember, on 1st April a day before my birthday I was sitting in a Bar in Mumbai on a hot afternoon with a friend having a few beers and watching Newcastle battering Liverpool. Swansea were to play next vs Spurs at the Lane.

We were discussing Swansea and how their season had been a brilliant one and all that. Swansea had been on 39 points from 33 matches. Well, 5 games to go and just one point to get. Easy.

I told my friend, this one point will be most difficult to get as there are chances of complacency to creep in and you take that 1 point for granted (look at Villa’s Spinal Tap). It turned out to be exactly that way and Swans lost 3 games in a row before beating Blackburn 3-0 with a brilliant performance.

With 90% passing accuracy and 73% ball possession on that day, they fired 8 shots on target that day, one of their highest in PL season. But it was against Blackburn and this shouldn’t be forgotten. For Swansea, this game came in at a right time as they were on a 4 match losing streak.

Next game against spirited Bolton ended 1-1. This game should have dead and buried after Sinclair’s opener on 6th Minute.

New Formation, New Result:

Last week’s 4-4 draw against Wolves was a great spectacle for the football lovers but letting in 3 goals after a 4-1 lead was so unSwansea like.

Brendan Rodgers said the new 3-4(diamond)-3 formation worked. We all thought the new setup was working wonders after 15 minutes, as Swans were 3-0 up by then after goals from Orlandi, Dyer and Graham.

However, when they changed back to 4-3-3 with 10 minutes to go in the first half and for the second half and that’s when it all started to go wrong. Wolves got one back near the half hour mark and from then on, the Swans lost all of their shape and confidence.

Swansea ripped through Wolves by scintillating display in the opening 30 minutes. It was a first time when they hit 4 goals in the Premier League.

Fullback Andrea Orlandi brought in the place of Neil Taylor was making his only 3rd appearance. He was very impressive in the first half scoring a fastest goal of PL this season and setting up one for Dyer, before being substituted at half time due to injury.

Not that only Wolves conceded soft goals, but Swansea were culprit for leaking in 4. Ashley Williams had an astonishingly poor game. He completely dozed off allowing Steven Fletcher to loop a simple header above him in the top corner. In fact whole back like of Monk, Williams, Caulker and Taylor (substituted Orlandi) had made school boyish errors for 2 goals in the 2nd half.

Despite excellent first half, midfield duo of Leon Britton and Joe Allen were ineffective in the 2nd half as both got bullied by Wolves in the middle.

It seemed like Swanselona became Wolves in the second half whereas it was Wolves were transformed into Wolveselona. Reminded me of a scene in Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen where Jetfire offers his parts to Optimus Prime, gives him that super power which enables him to slay The Fallen. Ah! A bit too much mix of Movies and Football, but the point is Wolves were super charged and successfully disrupted the rhythm of Swansea’s fluid passing.

Results in the last 6 games can be taken as a serious warning. Games like Wolves will come in every season but Swansea were lucky that this one came after they had secured their survival and Wolves had already been relegated to Championship next season.


Swansea to decide title?

Who would’ve ever thought that Swansea would be playing a key part in deciding the title? Although Manchester United’s Title hopes lies in Newcastle’s performance against City, United have to win this game and that too with a good goal margin and the whole world knows that. Swansea had giving a tough time to United in the earlier fixture at the Liberty Stadium.

With Newcastle vs City having an early kick off and United taking on Swansea later at night, if City beat Newcastle, then the game at Old Trafford will be a mere formality and that depleted morale of United players will give Swans a sniff at the blood. But if Newcastle manages to get a positive result against City, then United be raring to go. United will be cautious in this game and will be keen to avoid any mistakes and not to concede needless possession away.

Ex-United reserve’s captain Alan Tate is looking forward to returning to Old Trafford and hoping to hurt the Red Devils.

New Season, New Kits

Oh, by the way new ‘Red’ away kit for the next season has been unveiled. Red shirts, white shorts and green socks definitely epitomize Welsh flag. Also ‘The Jacks’ will be embroidered in gold on the back.

Also the Swans crest for the new season has been changed. Swan in the new crest has his wings upwards and will be white in colour compared to the downwards wings of the Black Swan. The crest too, will be in the Welsh colours of Red, Green and White. The Crest on Michel Vorm’s kit will be in Gold (gold crest to the golden man?).

Hope the new formation, new crest and new colours inspire Swans to tread the difficult path lay ahead with much success.

Here’s my weekly blog on Swansea City FC. I’ll be writing this for www.premiershipflavour.com


To the Next Step

In this first edition of the blog, a quick look at what needs to be done at the club for the next season.

It is wonderful sight to watch Swansea play. Their English version of ‘Tici-Taca’ duly earned them a famous nickname ‘Swanselona’ and an inevitable comparison with Tici Masters and Taca Lords Barcelona.

What Brendan Rodgers has achieved on the foundations built by Kenny Jackett and Roberto Martinez (now at Wigan) has been incredible. To achieve a win ratio of 50.82% and being Swansea’s most successful manager deserves applause. Swansea has given English football, what they lacked for many years, a team breaking traditional 4-4-2 and still playing attracting passing football.

With possession football being core to their footballing style, Swansea deployed 4-5-1 rather than Barca’s 4-3-3. What that reflected into is central midfield due Leon Britton and Joe Allen giving the balls to both wingers Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer, who would try to cut in and take a shot or cross once in a while to the striker Danny Graham. So the effectiveness of another attacking midfielder Wayne Routledge was lessened.

With the addition of more dynamic Gylfi Sigurdsson in the January transfer window seem to have sorted the attacking central midfielder problems. Sigurdsson is playing in his natural AM-C position than Routledge who is prominently a winger. Sigurdsson’s involvement in the game has been tremendous.

Sigurdsson has shot 4.1 shots per game with 84.7% of passing success rate in comparison to Routledge’s 0.6 shots per game with 79.2% of passing success. He has also scored 7 goals and 2 assists in his 15 games compared to Wayne’s solitary goal and 4 assists in 27 games.

Although a first priority of the season was to get 40 points and thus next season in the top flight, Rodgers ensured that this is achieved much earlier than the last day huff and puff. Swansea has achieved this in style and playing enthralling football with 4 games to play.

But Brendan Rodgers knows that the Job isn’t done at 40 points, rather it starts at 40.

He has to start thinking about building the squad for the next season. There’s an inevitable curse of 2nd season syndrome in football which they can’t avoid but that’s what Swans will have to negotiate with a strong mindset, courage and shrewd transfer policy.

His style of possession football too will be “Found out” in the second season. Well, it has already been somewhat found out as 4 looses on the trot suggest that. I’m hopeful that Rodgers will not get carried away with all the talks of him getting a prime candidate for Manager of the Season award.

If Rogers has to maintain the same style of football, he must improve the standards as next season in the Premiership is going to be more competitive as ever.

First things first. Every attempt to make Gylfi Sigurdsson’s move from on loan to permanent should be made. Rodgers might not find players suitable to his style in England where Kick and Rush football is still being played across the leagues. For example Chelsea starlet Josh McEachran is not getting any game time as he had hoped for. Rodgers will have to take a look in Europe for sure. Dutch League and La Liga are the two leagues where he can hope to find suitable targets and mostly at suitable price.

Also he must spend money wisely in the next season and not getting carried away with success in the début season. The usual tendency of the promoted club who stay in the top flight is to buy heavily in the second season and in turn change the playing style and philosophy.

I hope he stays on at the club and not get buoyed by any big offers which are likely to come his way.

There’s lot of work to be done at Swansea and Rodgers is the man for it.