Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Swansea City invade England!

Swansea's youth operations expand across the Severn Bridge

In what surely is an unprecedented move for the Swans, our academy are holding a series of training days in Bristol (Clifton College Sports Ground to be precise), with the first next Monday the 8th of September at 5:30pm. This is surely a bold move for us, as with no Premier League football in the West Country there's definitely scope to gain ourselves a foothold in terms of building a fanbase there. With the sessions aimed at seven to fourteen-year-olds it's clear we're keen to attract the best young talent from a rapidly expanding geographical area.

The more of this the better in my opinion. We've already seen the club start programmes of sessions in West Wales and the Valleys, and with visibility absolutely massive in swaying the allegiances of young fans the more we can get out into communities and spread "the Swansea way" the better. 

For details of the training sessions in Bristol click this link to the story in the Bristol Post: link

BONY STAYS! Plus the one that got away...

Ivorian striker, despite consistent rumours, was the subject of no bids for the entire transfer window

What a transfer window we've had. Sigurdsson, Fabianski, Fernandez, Gomis & Jeff coming in, while the players who left - who were, in some cases, of undoubted class - were all players who perhaps weren't 100% committed to the cause. In my eyes that's a bloody great few months. What's more, despite the continued claims of almost every newspaper across the land Wilfried Bony is still a Swansea City player. Great news indeed.

There is one player though who, when I heard he'd moved to Wigan on a permanent deal for £2-3million, I was very disappointed we weren't in for. That player is ex-Swansea youngster (more recently of Manchester City) Emyr Huws. He's young, he's an ex-Swan, he's a defensive midfielder, he suits the way we play, he was available for a ridiculously good price... I'd have loved for us to have been in for him and it would seem to have made lots of sense. Superficially at least.

When all is said and done though, if not scrambling around on deadline day and missing out on one potential bargain is the sole price we pay for running our club responsibly and going about our transfer business in the manner which best suits our club, it's something which we can't grumble about. This summer we've most definitely played a blinder, and in Sigurdsson's case in particular it's already looking like we may have made one of the signings of the summer. 

It's hard to ask for much more than that, really.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Bony's agent confirms Ivorian will stay in Swansea?

According to Sportsmole anyway...

Generally I wouldn't be repeating something this...tenuous... but it's deadline day and news from the Swans is slow. Ish. That and I'm already bored of "EXCLUSIVE"'s which claim to prove that Bony will be leaving for any club under the sun with some money to throw around and Champions League football on offer.

This is why Sportsmole's article (link) drew my attention. They claim one of their "sources" has spoken to Bony's agent, who has confirmed that our iron-thighed striker will still be in SA1 once the transfer window slams shut.

Is it true? Personally I think he won't even have a move to turn down, but football is crazy. I've always said I expect Wilf to be here until January at least, and this (if true) could confirm it.

Then again, it's deadline day so it's quite possibly entirely fabricated. Such is the minefield of online journalism these days.

Podcast: EPLRoundTable S02 E08 - Di Maria is no centre-back

This week's effort from the EPL Round Table's merry band of podcasters

Another day, another podcast! This installment we spend a good while trashing Manchester United, plus we obviously look at what's been going on at our clubs over the last week or so. I wax lyrical about Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge & Jonjo Shelvey too, which was always fairly likely given how they played this weekend.

Featuring myself (Scott), Jay from TheEaglesBeak (Crystal Palace), Jamie from No Nay Never (Burnley), Rob from Typical City (Man City) & the inestimable host Kevin De Vries (Tottenham).

Swansea City Deadline Day Preview

Who's likely to come in? Who's likely to leave?

Ah, deadline day. Once a time when Huw would go and play golf, turning his phone off, but now as much a part of the football calendar as the day the fixture list is released, or the draw for the third round of the FA Cup.

That's not to say I particularly enjoy it though. My personal opinion is that deadline day creates massive amounts of unnecessary pressure, and that restricting players movements throughout the season means you inevitably end up with players moving for fees which don't accurately represent their true value. That's my tuppence worth anyway. Now let's have a look at what the Swans may be up to today.

Potential Departures

Jose Canas (Free - small fee?)

Canas' departure this summer had seemed almost guaranteed at one point, but now a question mark hangs over his future. Rumours of a move to Spanish clubs have seemed to disappear for now, though I really wouldn't be surprised if he went somewhere in a last minute deal - possibly even a loan move.

Likelihood of leaving: 5/10

Wilfried Bony (Numerous suitors - £19mil+)

No chance. I don't care what the press are saying, nobody will pay the required fee as it's too much of a risk based on one season's goals.

Likelihood of leaving: 1/10

Potential Arrivals

Garry Monk has said we're in for two more players - a left-back and a right sided winger, and to be honest whether we're massively in need of strengthening in these positions is debatable. I thought Jazz was excellent against Rotherham, and Tiendalli seems to have once again remembered how to play football, so if you throw Kingsley into the mix you could argue we've actually got five full-backs on our books. That being said, Monk clearly knows more than I do and if he brings someone in who'll push Taylor even harder that's surely not a bad thing. I can't see us spending more than four...perhaps five million in this area though.

As for a right winger...again, do we really need one that bad? Between Jeff, Dyer, Routledge & Emnes surely we have enough cover there? I guess this puts us in an almost enviable position where we can afford to only add players (from this point anyway) who drastically improve the squad. Monk's spoken about the need to bring in players who'll instantly push for the first team, and when you look at the arrivals of Sigurdsson, Jefferson Montero & Federico Fernandez it's fairly obvious that's what we've been doing all summer.

That leads me to the conclusion that, while we do really want to bring players in who'll improve our cover in these positions, we'll only bring players in if they are the right people, at the right price. I don't think it'll damage our season if we fail to recruit two new faces today, and that's testament to the good work the club have done across the summer in bringing in quality players, at good prices, who've drastically improved the first team. 

Transfer deadline day? Pfft. I don't see what the fuss is about...

3 things we learnt from Saturday's 3-0 win

Another TSW debut today - Huw Richards takes a look at some key things to take from Saturday's demolition of WBA

1. Gylfi Sigurdsson is a class act

It was worth sacrificing Ben Davies and Michel Vorm for him. A handful of Swans fans were concerned when we swapped Ben Davies and Michel Vorm for Icelandic maestro Gylfi Sigurdsson, mainly due to the fact Luke Shaw had gone for a whopping £30,000,000+ to Manchester United a couple of weeks before, and he was at a very similar level to Ben when he was playing for us, but Gylfi's performance against West Brom on Saturday has wiped away any doubt in any Swans fans mind that we got the better deal of the two clubs.

2. Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge both deserve England call-ups. 

When you look at the most recent England squad, it makes you wonder how Dyer and Routledge have not had a call-up, and myself and most, if not all, Swans fans agree they should be called up, with both players performances' on Saturday backing up our opinion. The wingers in the most recent England squad include: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling, James Milner and Andros Townsend. Obviously Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain can be played in other positions across the pitch and not just out wide but when you look how many minutes these players are getting games for their domestic teams, it makes you wonder if they are just getting picked just because they play for the likes of Man City and Arsenal, and have not overly impressed when they have been given the chance with their clubs. Maybe one day (if Roy would pay a visit to The Liberty) he might just see what he is missing out on. 

3. Lukasz Fabianski is much better than the Michel Vorm of last season. 

After Michel Vorm's below par performances last season, Swans fans were crying out for a top-class keeper, and we seem to have found the right man in Lukasz Fabianski, signed on a free transfer from Arsenal. Fabianski appears to be much more of a commanding keeper than Vorm ever was, which is much more reassuring for everyone, and he is no mug when it comes to shot-stopping, as he demonstrated with a fine save from David Jones in last weeks' victory over Burnley at the Liberty Stadium. 

So, after a fine performance against West Brom, things are only looking bright for Swansea at the moment.

Many thanks to Huw for this great first piece. Stay tuned for more from Huw, and our ever-expanding team of great writers! You can follow Huw on Twitter @HuwTheSwanster

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Swansea 3 - 0 WBA - The best yet from Monk's men

Monk's men run rampant as 100% start continues

The world is a nicer place when you're winning. For Swansea fans across South Wales (and now, in a sign of the times, across the world) the last few weeks have definitely been rosier than usual, and remarkably things just keep getting better. 

This weekend's opponents were West Bromwich Albion, and in truth they may as well have not turned up - such was the disparity in, well, everything. From the first whistle the Swans were by far the better team, and it's a good thing ticketing issues seemed more or less resolved at the Liberty as any latecomers would have missed our opener, which came just eighty-seven seconds after the match got underway. Some neat play saw The Gylf backheel a through ball which evaded Jonas Olsson - who handily fell over - and Dyer was in on goal. He got to the ball before the scrambling Ben Foster, took a touch around him and coolly finished from a tight angle to the right of goal. 

Matt Le Tissier rightly commented yesterday that it was impressive for two reasons. Firstly, the finish was excellent. What was more impressive though was that Dyer obviously didn't even consider hitting the deck when he took his touch past Foster. Le Tissier highlighted this and he was right to - there are lots of players who, if put in that same situation, would be looking to go down which would perhaps have resulted in a red card for the goalkeeper. Given we were less than two minutes into the match at that point that could have made a big difference.

In truth if we'd have been more clinical we could, and perhaps should, have scored more goals. Bony headed and shot over, Shelvey went close and we generally looked the team more likely to score, so it was no real surprise when we went 2-0 up after about twenty-five minutes. What was a surprise though was how the ball found it's way into the back of the net! Following a half-clearance from Craig Dawson the ball sat up to Wayne Routledge on the edge of the area, and he hit what can only be described as a jaunty scissor volley, complete with Dick Van Dyke heel click, which curled past Ben Foster and into the corner of the WBA net.

As with Jonjo's spectacular strike against Aston Villa, when it left Wayne's foot no-one around me dared to believe it was going in. Stunned silence was quickly replaced by rapturous applause though when the ball hit the back of the net - it really was a fabulous finish and it's already being billed as the goal of the month. It's hard to see anything topping it.

The first half finished with the score still two-nil, but the game was all but over as a contest. WBA didn't show anything in the first half to give us reason for concern, while the Swans were playing to a standard I haven't seen us achieve in quite some time. I honestly think that's the best overall fourty-five minutes of football I've seen us play since, perhaps, Brendan Rodgers was in charge. Under Laudrup we had plenty of good performances but the level of teamwork and balance on display was really, really encouraging, and if we can maintain that level of play we'll be nailed on for a top half finish this year.

The second half was something of a sparring contest. We were still the better side, but the intensity dropped off - understandable given how comprehensive our control of the game had been until that point. That didn't stop us creating chances though. Ki hit one straight at the keeper, Bony had an effort saved, before the introduction of Jefferson Montero helped us kick on and get the third goal. He was instantly impressive, running at players with pace and commitment, and he almost got himself an assist within minutes when he got past his man, delayed, and rolled the ball across to the advancing Bony, who uncharacteristically shot over. 

We didn't have to wait long though. The Gylf once again split the opposition defence and Dyer was clean through, and - as is becoming the norm for him - he finished coolly into the corner of the net. It is massively impressive how Dyer's finishing has improved year on year, and it brings a smile to my face every time I think of him smashing shots everywhere other than the goal when he first came here. Our most improved player over the last few years? Difficult to say but he's definitely up there.

Beyond our third goal West Brom did have some chances. On another day, as against Burnley, we could well have conceded a goal but the fact remains that in our last three games we've only afforded our opponents a solitary one shot on target each. If you can do that every game you are, very obviously, going to find it a lot easier to stop your opponents scoring.

And so we go into the international break undefeated, having only conceded one goal in three league games and scored six. A great way to cap off a brilliant few weeks, and if Garry Monk doesn't get manager of the month I'll eat my hat. We're next in action away at Chelsea before home games against Southampton (league) and Everton (League Cup), and if we keep this up who knows how many points we'll have on the board in a month time. Realistically though Chelsea are going to be by far the best team we've come up against so far this season, so we need to perhaps not get too far ahead of ourselves. With the way Chelsea have been playing expecting anything from that game is at the very least extremely optimistic. 

That's not to say we can't get a result there though. It'll be tough - a damn sight tougher than any match so far this season - but we've got players who can beat any team in the world now. Play as a team and to our strengths, and anything is possible.