Its a few weeks into the season and, with the delays due to the international break out of the way it really feels like it’s getting going now. You might even say the same about the Swans themselves following the win against WBA. Up until that point two points and no goals from four games could have suggested a team struggling to come to terms with its new surroundings.
I guess your views on this depended on whether you’re a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” type of person and it’s fair to say that there’s been plenty of evidence of the latter on the Guestbook in the last couple of weeks. Thankfully Brendan and the players are made of sterner stuff and Saturday’s win and three clean sheets suggests a team that is settling in nicely and continuing to grow in confidence.
So, what have we learned so far? Well if I’m honest, on the pitch the gulf between the Premiership and the Championship is bigger than I expected it to be. Of the teams we’ve played so far Man City obviously stand out and at times it seemed like men against boys in the second half. Not so against the others and playing at home we have more than matched teams.
Our support has been great and long may it continue with sell outs home and away. The change in atmosphere has been particularly noticeable at home and you can see the players respond to it. Let’s hope we can sustain it over the months to come.
Much has changed with the media coverage although we were predictably last when making our debut on Match of the Day against Wigan. Our chances of survival are consistently given as slim which suits us fine. What’s refreshing is to be able to buy any daily paper after a game not just the Western Mail or Evening Post and get an unbiased match report.
National journalists (some but not all) can offer viewpoints and insights that local journalists, too close to the club and players, are either unable or unwilling to highlight. That said some seemed to think we’d turn on Brendan quite quickly if the results and goals didn’t come. They don’t quite get it yet do they?
Regarding the players – I guess it’s still too early to tell who will thrive at this level and who will be found out. Early indications suggest that the majority will be okay and there have been many positives. On the negative side our lack of defensive cover means that we will miss Alan Tate more than we thought over the next few months and the lack of progress for Bodde is a blow for club and player.
Continuing with the negatives, I was bitterly disappointed with the manner of the loss at Shrewsbury. We should have had enough quality and enough hunger to win but on the night we had neither. I’ve seen enough abject cup performances over the years not to get too hung up over this but I think Brendan was taken aback and this result will have longer implications for some than just losing a cup match.
Away from the Premier League, we were represented in the Wales squad by 3 players; had 4 in the Under 21 squad that just played Montenegro and had an incredible 5 of the starting 11 that beat Bulgaria recently at U19 level. While not well represented at U17 level no other club has anything like this level of representation – even those who have an academy!
All evidence of the growing stature of our club, reflecting that to be a Swansea City player, at whatever age group, is something to be proud of. Tony Pennock’s youth department must take credit for the continuing conveyor belt of talent and his support team has recently increased by a couple of posts as the Premier League’s riches flow down to all parts of the club.
Huw Jenkins also wrote in the Sunderland programme about the need for more office space in the Liberty. More space presumably equates to more people on the payroll, which is fine now but what happens if we’re relegated and the money dries up? While the club needs to improve off the pitch we must be careful that we don’t become overly bureaucratic and see our overheads rise to the detriment of the playing side.
So all in all a steady first month and we’re all pretty happy with 14th place. The WBA win was deserved and needed though. Given the build up (Tate’s injury; the death of Brendan’s father; and the failure to secure two of our transfer deadline day signings) it has given everyone a massive lift and emphasized (as if we didn’t know already) that our home form will be the key to our survival chances. At the end of every season you look back at season defining games. Let’s hope WBA proves to be one of them.
This article was written by Paul Ashley Jones