“Jogo Bonito”- The Beautiful Game.
Or how “We wasn’t robbed”, but maybe we were pilfered. Pickpocketed, even.
So it turned out to be a bitterly disappointing day for all we Swans.Having travelled North in great numbers, and despite long periods where our class shone through, we ultimately failed the test of one of the oldest (and ugliest) tactics in the game – that of the long high ball, consistently pumped into the heart of the
defence.Coupled with the willingness to cut it up rough,often barely on the allowable side of the fence, guaranteed an effective outcome for Blackburn. Or was it?
Principally, I would suggest, because the win for them means they get to keep their Manager, which, for all of us at Ewood Park, doesn’t seem to be the thing they want.
I ask the question particularly, because even immediately after Yakubu’s race to the touchline to high-five Steve Kean in celebration of their first goal, the boos rang out from the Home crowd. Similarly , later in the game, at 4-2 and even after the final whistle, a sizable chunk of Home “fans” continued the “Kean out” and vociferous grumbling they had shown throughout the game.
It does make you wonder about the mindset of such a fan, and puts me in mind of the kind of troll who haunts some of our own GuestBooks on Swansea City fan sites – you know the ones- they usually appear when the Team has struggled for whatever reason, only to be conspicuous by their absence when the team does well.
Often highlighted by their use of “kiddie-speak” when seeking to disparage another………..”You are Numpties” for instance, and usually coupled with poor, instructive Grammar……….”he was worst than” is another example, it seeks more to annoy rather than inform. To act as a magnet for response, because that validates the effort. (sic)
It’s more sad (if a little infuriating) than anything else. Almost as if nerdy cyber-keyboard warriors are for once made flesh, to take their place alongside real people. You’ll know them when you either see or read them – they’re the ones with a consistent stream of dribble/drivel coming from their lips. A sort of verbal diarrhoea, with the result that they generally stand on their own, or perhaps tap at their keyboards in a bare bulb bedroom, stopping only to check out “Best of Big ‘Uns” or the “Reader’s Wives” section of the program.
If you want a fine summary of the pointlessness of Internet debates please read this
It’s where the excellent Charlie Brooker points out that “…all Internet debates, without exception, are entirely futile.” . Read it,please, and recognise the type.
It’s as well,too,to remind people here of the contrast. The JackArmy were again, magnificent throughout. From the wit of “Is this a Library”, to the pride and graciousness of clapping and cheering the Team off the field at the end, they once more did us all proud.
As to the game, it began in our usual fashion, something we’ve come to appreciate. Ball control and retention, patient, if at times a slightly slow rotation of same, designed to take the sting out of the game and crowd, profitably, in the main. Dyer, Allen, Britton and Gower did their thing. Sinclair was still running at the full back, not always successful, but at least in combination with Taylor getting forward, and Lita tried manfully to engage Samba and Dann with some defensive problems.At the back, the Swans were sound without immediate worry, and the whole settled into a rhythm, without pulling up any trees.
It continued in this way until Blackburn, attacking down the left, managed a one-two between Givet and Yakubu, which freed the left back toward the byline, where he was able to outpace Monk on the outside and pull a wicked ball back toward the Nigerian International.Without breaking stride, Yakubu swept it left footedly into the top corner of Vorm’s goal. A jarring punishment, and really well taken. 1-0.
The next phase of the game confirmed what had already become evident. Blackburn were robust, muscular,physical,bruising – all of those epithets for dirty,really – consistently niggling and combative, and, once again, getting away with it. I hate to highlight this but I’m going to, because I believe it to be true.Some sides have learned that we can be kicked off-course, and unless Refs offer protection we suffer. Chris Foy, like others before him, didn’t give us so much as a sniff, never mind basic protection. Is it because we complain so little? Is it because the opposition fouling is always cumulative, not singular? Is it just me that sees it like this? I don’t think so, and here’s why.
The foul count yesterday was 12-13, but what that shows is the fouls awarded for against the sides. What it doesn’t show is the number of times a Swansea player was balked, or kicked, and impeded, and Foy saw fit to wave play on.I can genuinely recall 10 such instances.This is not an excuse for losing a match. It’s a cry from the heart for either fairer play, or a hint that we need to do what others do- roll on the ground, go and stay down more often, generally get “cuter”. Some would say cheat – I couldn’t possibly say that.
The equaliser came from a move of good quality. The ball was moved and swept, to and fro, through numerous passes to end with Mark Gower chipping as he had at Wolves (but with more pace) toward the far post where Lita, free of Samba, headed text book fashion back across goal and into the far corner. 1-1, and deserved.
The game’s key moment came, I would suggest, just a minute from half time. From Hoilett’s raid down the left, he attempted to go outside Richards, only to find the Swans full back chase and harry him so that the ball seemed about to go out, but Richards put in a challenge rather than risk a stand off block, and Hoilett earned the corner. Pedersen took it,driven at head height and from Williams skimming header to the edge of the box, and we Swans watched in horror as Vuckovic volleyed the clearance back into the goalmouth and Yakubu, no more than 2 yards out, headed skillfully into the net.I felt sick.I guess the players did too.
Instead of going it level, we now had to face a 2-1 deficit, and a newly encouraged Blackburn Rovers.
In the second half the homesters continued their aerial bombardment, consistently getting the GK Robinson, the midfielder Pedersen and various others to give it the Hail Mary into the Swansea Box.
A word of praise here to Christopher Samba, their giant CB, seemingly put together by the Frankinstein school of body parts.I mean no disrespect when I say that his huge body seems too big and heavy for his long, knock kneed skinny legs.That he looks too clumsy at first sight to be a footballer. Do not be fooled.Here is a player of huge heart and no little skill and effectiveness in a game- at either end of the pitch.
No wonder that Arsenal, reportedly, were sniffing around him during the summer. You get the gut feeling that Samba and Vermaelen would be a better combination than the Gunners have ended up with- Vermaelen with either Mertesacker or Koscielny.I get the feeling that even now and with Wenger’s distaste for older players, January looms. I am not one to counsel our board to spend big money.
However, apart from the much missed Fabio Borini, currently domiciled in Italy(but you never know), I can’t think of one other player I’d rather see come to us.Would £10/£12 million do it.Steve Kean wouldn’t say so, but the Venky’s Board is a different matter. Discuss and debate.
From the by now familiar Luftwaffe tactic, Blackburn got their third. Pedersen’s corner(again) was won by the self same Samba and headed back into the six yard box, where, not for the first time this season, the second ball man was free (think Vokes/Doyle at Wolves among others). Yakubu, for it was he, rose above Taylor to guide his header home. 3-1.
The Swans,however,were not quite done. Brendan Rodgers, having already introduced Routledge for Dyer at half time, now sent on Luke Moore for Gower, and it was these two players who dragged the Swans back into the game.From a Swans attack down the right, Routledge took on Givet on the outside and his cross shot was beaten down by Robinson, only for Luke Moore to coolly chest control and volley the goal. 3-2, game on.
With half an hour almost to go, the game was now nip and tuck, and despite Sinclair narrowly putting a difficult chance just over the bar, and the same players drive ricocheting out from a block, we never quite got the break our enterprise maybe deserved.
The confirmation of refereeing silliness came, for me, in the 80th minute, and it was a game changer. Joe Allen, having previously been booked for a flashy,rather than petulant, ball return to Blackburn after a free kick award, was again booked for a late tug on Hoilett in a quick midfield break. Two soft yellows = one harsh red, and off he went.
To stick the dagger into our hearts, Blackburn almost immediately sent it forward again, where Neil Taylor, attempting to drive Vuckevic wider, dangled a foot and the Blackburn man went down.Justifiable penalty, which Yakubu again dispatched, and we were down and out.
Yet another game where the fantastic variety and excitement of the Premier League was on show.Blackburn Rovers, a long established PL Club and ex title winner, entertained Swansea City, pass and move disciples, newly promoted, and showed that we are always and still learning. In a game that they were more able to bend to their will, there were still enough positives to help us survive and thrive- but only if we learn.
There were occasions in the game when we could have pushed on to be on top. I’ve read from some sensible analysis that we are sometimes guilty of failing to push home periods of dominance. That seems fair comment to me. Similarly, we knew we would be under aerial attack. We must do better there too.
As I’ve said above, we must also get slier/cuter/cleverer….call it what you will. We must get the weaker Refs on our side rather than have them give us little return.And, most of all, we must shed this “little club doing well” mindset for a “we told you so, see” craw-sticker.
We do it to a greater extent at Home. Let’s hope as the season goes on we can do it to a greater extent Away.
To anybody who reads this as a winge or bleat about our Club let me say this. It is, most definitely, NOT.We are experiencing a fantastic season in the hardest League in the world (according to some). I am proud to be witnessing it, being a small part of it.
Onward, Swansea City.
This article was written by Peter Thomas