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|Frustrating, but not entirely surprising|
at 15:30 24 Jan 2015
Last week was a strange experience. Even the most hardened Swans fan would have to admit that the defeat last week was thoroughly deserved. It was not something a lot of the fans would be used to, but Garry Monk's side were blown away in a manner that I personally have never seen. Our only crime was perhaps the mentality, that sense that the game was a write off. They looked like they never believed a win was possible, and by the time it got to 4-0, the players looked shy, scared even, to lose the ball and possibly concede another.
So, with everyone at the club saying the team were keen to bounce back and get onto the next game, an F.A cup fourth round tie at Championship side Blackburn could be an ideal chance to put that into practice.
The good news was within the first 5 minutes was we were not a goal down, unlike the previous week. The bad news was the away side were a man down, the 7th red card for the visitors in all competitions so far. While some previous reds have been dubious, there were few complaints when Kyle Bartley, the last man took down speedy forward Josh King outside the box. A high defensive line is fine, but the back four seemed almost shocked at the idea of dealing with a reasonably fast striker. Almost as if they had not been briefed that this could be a factor in the game, So with the numerical disadvantage, keeping the ball was crucial for the Swans. But individual quality was also heavily important, which is exactly what Gylfi Sigurdsson provided. The Icelandic midfielder, who was out of the Chelsea game very much so, dropping deeper in center midfield hit a ferocious 30 yard strike into the top right corner of the net. 21 minutes in, 1-0 to the Swans.
I don't know about everyone else, but I know I thought 'keep it tight'. Tom Carroll was replaced for Federico Fernandez to restore a back four, Sigurdsson pushed back a little to partner Shelvey in midfield.... Yet, you wouldn't think it looking at the equaliser. Two minutes later, a ball into the box and knocked down, both Tiendalli and Amat failed to clear and a neatly executed finish from Chris Taylor led to an instant reply from the home side, in front of just 5000 fans at Ewood park.
The majority of the rest of the game almost seemed like a non-event really. Both teams struggled on the dire pitch, going mainly for intricate moves, rather than actual shots at goal, with both keepers having little to do. It seemed like the next goal (if any) would win. That proved to be the case with another ball into the Swansea area not being cleared and former Cardiff City man Rudy Gestede heading in the second for the home side.
From a fans point of view, what was the most frustrating thing was that the Swans had offered nothing all game, yet only looked reasonably threatening once they went behind. Ten men or not, bad pitch or not, it felt like a game between two Championship sides, without sounding disrespectful to Blackburn. Only when going behind, a nice little ball into the area from Sigurdsson which almost found Rangel, followed by a shot from Nelson Olivera, which barely troubled the Rovers keeper. Everything else that followed seemed unimportant really, firstly another former Bluebird Craig Conway hit a daisy cutter into Fabianski, who parried it in. The free transfer this summer, who has been a solid addition to the back five will once again be unhappy with a big mistake. To cap off a poor afternoon in general, Sigurdsson got himself sent off in added time for a scissors tackle born out of frustration at the team's performance in general.
The reason for this title is for-one-the nature for the cup in general, two, for the early red card and also just for the run we are on. I don't buy in for all the fans coming out with a sudden mistrust for Monk, especially after our fine first half to the season. A poor run was always on the cards, but currently the team seem devoid of motivation, almost writing off certain games, which is a cardinal sin in football. Before Southampton, Monk will need to address the problems of recent weeks. The departure of Bony, and the subsequent messiah complex shown by Bafetimbi Gomis (who offered very little towards his apparent Champions League scouts) is unhelpful. But this team still have undoubted quality, there is just a mentality issue currently. As a painfully optimistic fan, I say let's get the team focused and bring on Southampton next week.
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