Wednesday, 23 July 2014

TOKEN SENSATIONALIST HEADLINE....

Tokan sub-headline retracting almost everything sensationalist headline claims


Today I read a headline in a London newspaper that stated "Michel Vorm confirms Spurs switch". "Here we go", I thought, "Maybe one part of this protracted triple transfer is actually done and dusted". But oh no! What was the next (and first) line in the article?

"Michel Vorm has appeared to confirm his switch to Tottenham"

Now, I know it's obviously done and dusted and that makes this not the best example, but the point is that it's becoming increasingly evident that, online especially, websites and newspapers are using shock headlines and capital letters to drag viewers to their site. I've seen it referred to as "clickbait", and the term is very apt.

This led to me having a bit of a moan about this practice on Twitter, but boy am I glad I did! First of all, the ever-excellent Hazelton Wang (who I still can't work out if he's a real person or not) replied with this beauty - perfectly demonstrating the kind of thing I was on about:

Next up was @D8nnyJ with this beauty:

This led to a stream of excellent replies, all of which I tried to retweet - sorry if I didn't! Here are some of the best.


As you can see, I had a great morning on Twitter - I particular liked the last one from Huw Mellor!

Jokes aside though, the point is a real one. I can't be alone in being fed up of clicking on titles like "Former Man Utd, Liverpool & Arsenal target in SHOCK move to leading Premier League club for CRAZY wages", only to find out that some random youth kid has reportedly been linked with a move to West Ham.

Sadly it seems there's little we'll be able to do about this. It's only going to get worse, and avoiding the practice puts you at a massive financial disadvantage - this website could easily have five or six times as many views if I tried to "Tabloidify" every headline. After a year and a half of blogging on this site almost always daily, I still make no money through advertising, but if I'd have been sensationalist from day one I would probably be earning a tidy packet by now. 

Where's the fun in that though? Anyone can type in capitals and jump on a bandwagon - I like the idea this website gives Swansea (and other) fans something a bit different to read. Something which isn't driven by the amount of hits we're receiving on a daily basis. 

Well, not entirely anyway...

"Davies' sale to Tottenham took the shirt off my back"

TSW's newest contributor Josh Denk returns with a wistful look at why, for Swansea City, patience is most definitely a virtue

Rookie Mistake

 
The offseason makes me restless. I miss the football so much that I do things many of you long-time football fans would consider poor choices. The World Cup this year only made it worse. It only made me want to be at the start of the Premier League season that much more. I look for any occasion that signals we're ready to go again and this year, it was the kit launch.

When the Jacks released the new kit on the eighteenth of June, there really wasn't any stopping me getting an away kit, with the classy half-and-half red-black design. Yes, that logo is massive and atrocious, but it's not THAT much worse than last year's. And yes, it's a little slimmer than last year's design, but that's just another incentive to get back on the bike and shed some pounds this summer and fall.

But I went one step too far. Can you spot the mistake? I should have checked with the experts before getting Ben Davies' name and number on the kit. I should have known there'd be this kind of interest in Davies after his first-team work the past couple of years. Now I know better. And I'm stuck with a shirt Davies will never wear.

I was naively hoping for some sort of collector's-item cred, but a quick conversation over Twitter with The JackCast's Matt Harrison ("that's not how it works, mate") set me straight. He did suggest I could pass it off as my last name; unfortunately, in the U.S., Davies becomes Davis. Perhaps I could pass it off as a Kinks tribute, but they're not even a little Welsh, so that doesn't make a lot of sense either.

So what to do? Well, it's not like my neighbors will know anything about the team or where Ben Davies will end up playing in 2014-2015, so there's no reason to be publicly ashamed. But how do I reconcile wearing the shirt personally if he goes? Transfer windows gossip columns are hilarious reading. I mean, where else can you read about an agent trying to create distance between a superstar and his team over a birthday cake? The speculation drives clicks and newspaper sales. It's way more fun than reading actual news as well.

There's such authority in those pages, though, that it can easily fool you, especially if you're new to the Premier League. Sometimes the pages say "Liverpool are looking to swoop for Davies for £8 milliion" and that sounds reasonable. Then sometimes they say "Liverpool have agreed an £8 million fee for Davies" and that also sounds reasonable, even though it's total crap. Big Wilf definitely has a £19 million release clause! Someone's seen it! No, you can't see it. Does it exist? Definitely maybe. Ooh, Gus Poyet is going to make Ash a Black Cat with a £4 million offer. Yes, that definitely happened.

Speculation about potential destinations is a universal sports phenomenon; what's less present on American soil is the interminable wait for some deals, specifically for teams like ours who don't have seemingly infinite resources. Last year, I started posting updates about the Wilfried Bony signing on my Facebook page under the header "BONY WATCH." Bony Watch (it's usually all caps but I'll spare you that) lasted a very long time before he actually signed. What's fascinating is that the "watch" terminology could apply to pretty much every speculative deal.

There could actually be (and probably should be) a DAVIES WATCH as well as a Bony Watch this year, and I could also add a Montero Watch, given the predictably protracted nature of his supposedly imminent transfer this summer. For teams like Swansea City, the negotiation is a slog. By the time the speculation is over, I've had time to create a starting XI with the desired player in the lineup. It's like he's already here and playing for us. So if he doesn't arrive, I end up wondering what we're going to do without him. 

The answer is "what we've always done; keep building a team around a philosophy." But when even Huw Jenkins goes public with his frustration at the slow pace of the transfer market, it's hard to stay focused on the long term plan, which has a lot more to do with the structure and playing philosophy of the team than it does with any individual players - either those present or those on their way to South Wales. 

See? Even Huw forgets that sometimes. (Can I call you Huw, sir? I like to think he reads this). Patience is ever the watchword. Get comfortable; there will be no sudden moves. Wait for official word from the club or an official report; don't get carried away with the gossip. I mean, by all means, read it, and have a laugh, but don't trust anything.

So in the end, having a 2014/15 Davies kit is a reminder to practice patience. It's a reminder to wait for resolution. It's a reminder that the only thing that matters after the breathless speculation is who's around on September first, and whether the team's creating and finishing chances. I'll wear the shirt with pride - chastened pride but pride nonetheless - and a healthy dose of skepticism.
 
Also: no more names on the back of kits. I'm not dancing with that devil again.

Thanks to Josh for this latest piece, which I'm sure everyone will enjoy. You can follow him on Twitter @TheJoshDenk

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Gylfi Sigurdsson - Good value for money?

How does Gylfi compare to JDG or Michu at attacking midfield?



Nathan Lewis returns in statistical form as he runs an eye over the return of The Gylf, and whether we'd be better off throwing money at Jonathan De Guzman

It’s nearly over. Ben Davies and Michel Vorm seem to both be a signature away from moving to Spurs, with Gylfi Sigurdsson coming the other way. While the fairness and quality of this deal for the Swans is still to be debated, it is time for us to consider the qualities of the Icelandic international, and how he will slot back into the Swansea philosophy.

The mention of Sigurdsson returning to the Liberty is exciting, due to his impressive loan spell under Brendan Rodgers in our first Premier League season. A deal for him to re-join us for the next season seemed to be close to completion before Rodgers moved to Liverpool, and Spurs came in with what you would imagine were more impressive personal terms. Gazumped.

The hole left by Gylfi was immediately filled in impressive fashion by Michu, who scored 18 league goals in his debut season before suffering from niggling injury problems in 2013/14. Meanwhile, having joined Spurs, Sigurdsson struggled to force his way into the first team, and was largely used as a substitute or out on the left wing. 

Given his proven talent when playing through the middle, it’s easy to see Sigurdsson thriving when placed back into the Swansea line-up and at first glance, Gylfi and Michu would appear to be similar players. In their respective spells with Swansea, they were both the centre of attacking moves, and scored an impressive haul of goals. 

That being said, for the first time in what seems like forever the Swans have a genuine striker capable of leading the line. With Bony providing a focal point for attacks, it is no longer the primary purpose of the attacking midfielder to provide goals.  Whether Monk sets out his team in a 4-4-2 diamond, or in our more familiar 4-2-3-1, the main role of an attacking midfielder would surely be to slide passes through to the striker(s) and create chance after chance (see more on this here). Of course, if he can occasionally pop one in from long range, that wouldn’t hurt!

So how would Sigurdsson slot into this role? A comparison of Michu (2012/13), Sigurdsson (2012/13) and de Guzman (2013/14) makes for some interesting reading, especially when thinking about a more creative, assist-making attacking midfielder. Michu storms the ‘goals scored’ competition with eighteen, compared to three and four for The Gylf and Jono respectively, but he struggles to match the chance creation, pass completion and assists of the other two. 

Gylfi created 25 chances in just 1231 minutes (one every 49.24mins) of game time, compared to Michu’s 34 in 3004 (one every 88.35minutes) and made double the amount of assists (four to Michu's two). Clearly, this shows that Sigurdsson has the potential to be a more creative, team-focused attacking midfielder than the passionate Spaniard. An interesting development however, is de Guzman being more impressive than both Gylfi and Michu in terms of pass completion (88% as opposed to 84.4% and 80.5% respectively), chances created (50 in 2357mins - one every 40.74 minutes) and key passes (51 to Michu's 25 & Gylfi's 34). 

He is also marginally more impressive defensively than Sigurdsson and Michu, but this could be due to him playing alongside Leon or Jose Canas for large chunks of last season. There are whispers that Gylfi returning to the Liberty means that we will not see Jono in a Swansea shirt this season, but looking at the statistics, it’s difficult to argue that the Dutchman wouldn’t be better value for money than our impending new arrival.

Perhaps with more game time, and being played in his favourite position, The Gylf will storm next season, sliding passes through to the strikers and smashing in long-range efforts. The prospect of him setting up the likes of Bony and Gomis is very exciting, and the return of this impressive player can only be good news for the Swans as they try to maintain their status as an established Premier League side.

Statistics used in this article sourced from www.whoscored.com. You can follow Nathan on Twitter @nathdavidlewis