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As somebody who was present on Saturday I took the following:-
1. For the first half when we played something like a recognisable first team we were well on top. Whether this was because the Creepies were poor or we were good is debateable, but one suspects they were not used to that level of pass and move at League Two level. We really could and should have been four up with Dhanda hitting the post, Nathan, Ollie and McKay all hitting the side netting and Nathan having what looked a good call for a penalty turned down when he was through on goal. Dhanda looked much more mature and influential compared to the lightweight youth of last season. Bidwell seemed solid without being spectacular. McKay was his usual crates egg, one moment doing something good, the next frustratingly gving the ball away cheaply. The rest we pretty much know about.
2. The old set piece weakness re-emerged when we still had a recognisable centre half pairing on the pitch. Once again the ball played deep beyond the far post and headed back caught us out. Its easy to blame a zonal system which is always susceptible to late runs into non-zones, but you might think that by now we would have found a way to combat this. Hopefully Cooper can try to recognise and work on a way of negating this issue.
3. As so often with pre-season games the mass changes in the second half disrupted flow. However, it did also seem that nobody really put their hands up and impressed from among the younger players. Whether Cooper can identify two or three of the younger players to advance by giving opportunities is a big question. What is obvious was that if we don't bring in three or four players that the squad looks short of depth, particularly in central defence.
4. At the risk of stating the obvious we miss Dan James' pace and on the basis that Montero has no future (or will be injured) this is an area of concern.
5. Overall there was much to be positive about in that the "first team" line up played some good stuff. However, there were also some negatives which were in the main predictable and hopefully can be sorted out over the next few weeks.
The fact that Bidwell did well at Brentford is encouraging as they have been one of the better footballing sides in the EFL in recent years.
As to Rangel and his behaviour before the QPR game, what were some people expecting? A hat-trick of own goals just to show how much he enjoyed his time at Swansea? He was always going to want to show the QPR fans that he was 100% Hoops on the day, and rightly so.
He also played Dan James as well as anybody in the second half of last season, constantly showing him down the outside where DJ was reluctant to chance his arm with his left foot. For me he will always be one of the cornerstone Swans players of his generation alongside the likes of Leon and Tatey, and one of the club's best ever signings in terms of both value for money and quality.
Birmingham appear to have been here before. A couple of seasons back they sacked Gary Rowett when they were usefully placed in upper mid table following a decent start to the season. Apparently their owners wanted a style of football that was better to watch so they appointed Zola who took them to the verge of League One when GM stepped in. Whatever reservations one might have about the style of play there's no doubt that Monk steadied a sinking ship, and repeated the trick last season despite a points deduction.
As to his time in charge of the Swans I believe he tried to play to our strengths at the time. The Laudrup style seemed to have been found out (aside from any issues off the pitch) and it seemed ML didn't fancy Bony who was not mobile enough for what he wanted. Monk ensured our survival I his caretaker spell by playing to Bony's strengths of holding up the ball and bringing others into play. Thus the idea of getting the ball to Wilf quickly.
He tried to build on that the following season with some success before things went pear shaped - possibly because other sides had started to work us out in a similar way that it seemed Laudrup's style had been found out. My own view was that he had been a decent caretaker appointment who achieved his aim but there were always question marks about his full time appointment.
There's no doubt that things went badly in his final few months and the football was not great. However, lets get things in perspective - we didn't suddenly become Wimbledon 1988. I remember talking to him at the Bavarian training camp in the summer of 2015 following the Gladbach game and he had a high regard for the German game at the time and in particular Jurgen Klopp. The game always shifts tactically and I think he was trying to move us down that road. Arguably it worked fine for a season but then imploded, partly to his lack of experience.
However, my view is that we had started to lose our way as a club even before the GM appointment. Some of the football under Laudrup in the first season was superb (although don't forget that ML wasn't averse to getting men behind the ball and hitting on the break way from home) but to my mind he also introduced the financial poison into the club.
Perhaps it was inevitable when a club that was historically punching above its weight got involved in a league where the value of money has become wholly distorted. We are hardly alone in that regard with Charlton being a close comparator not to mention the likes of Bolton and Wigan who had different business models but ultimately suffered similar fates.
Aside from the obvious weakness at set pieces I think we also have a problem with ball-watching defenders and an ineffective version of an off-side trap. Watching the goals from the Rotherham and Hull games suggests a recurring problem of players making runs into the box but not being picked up.
I've said it before, and think we are in a similar position to where we were at under Roberto after our first season back in the Championship - a potent attacking force but brittle at the back. Many people bad-mouth Paulo Sousa but there's no doubt that he made giant strides in getting a largely similar group of players more organised in defence, and BR reaped the benefit.
What seems a little strange is that we didn't seem to have these glaring difficulties in the first half of the season where we kept a decent number of away clean sheets. Whether Rodon's added height makes a difference is a moot point but this is certainly an area where work is needed. In the first half of the season we took 15 points on the road while in the second only 7. Those extra 8 points would have made a huge difference.
I don't think anybody is arguing that the club is in a good position and the lack of transparency is particularly concerning. There are obvious questions to be posed as to how a club generally regarded as well run lost the plot including issues as to how much certain individuals may or may not have taken out of the club.
However it is not helpful to jump on to histrionic bandwagons condemning TB as the devil incarnate of football and then quote a load of "facts" that are either obviously incorrect (eg that Birch saw Leeds to three relegations) or are taken wholly out of context.
Birch has tended to be called in when clubs situations have become dire and he has had to fight fires. However, it may just be that in this case this is a pre-emptive move that has probably been pushed by MM. Whether there is a broader agenda in terms of a sale is wholly speculative at this stage but not inconceivable.