|Blackburn Rovers 1 v 1 Swansea City|
Tuesday, 9th March 2021 Kick-off 18:00
Blackburn Rovers 1 Swansea City 1 : The game analysed, time for change ?
Wednesday, 10th Mar 2021 11:44 by Keith Haynes
It wasn’t the best watch of the season that’s for sure, and this insight in to the game against Blackburn will surely start to reveal where the problems are for Steve Cooper and Mike Marsh as Luton beckons on Saturday.
There seems to be a levelling out at the Liberty, especially with the play offs nearly confirmed, maybe that extra mile is going to undo the swans over their coming games. Luton Town away on Saturday will be a lot tougher than the predicted 1-1 draw at Ewood. We know this from previous encounters both home and away, the football gods will smile on Luton if this current swans form continues. It is a case of where to change the problem, and how ?
Straight away after Blackburn’s opening goal you could hear the dissent in certain people’s voices regards the ability of Freddie Woodman, admittedly for me too he doesn’t fill me with confidence. At times I’m almost surprised he catches the ball above head height. I don’t know why, he has played well above average this season and has made some great saves, but he is not alone in the championship when it comes to ability. However, that goal was unforgivable in football terms, nutmegged by a weak shot and the defence too need to look at themselves. Stationary and ball watching, it wasn’t good. Freddie Woodman may well need some rest or at least some basic keeper training in his weak areas, and some are very weak, but Cooper doesn’t work like that. I expect Woodman to continue to retain the number one jersey, primarily because there is little or no competition to replace him.
It clearly is fatigue, Andre Ayew has said it already, so there’s little doubt in what he says. Jamal Lowe had a one game rest, he needs more. Paul Arriola needs some games, he isn’t getting them, that’s a quandary. The squad isn’t big, the loss of Jordan Morris was a huge dent in Cooper’s options. However, he needs to freshen things up, but I can’t see him doing that. He knows a few more wins secures the play offs, and that regardless of what any swans fan thinks is a major success. It will also improve his stock, two play offs in two seasons in a seriously tough league will mean the swans will do well to retain him. I see his alleged strongest side to continue, perhaps with Routledge starting at times, and maybe one more change at times being the norm. Cooper has got his own future to protect, so running a few players in to the ground as professionals and well paid ones too gives us a clear insight in to his mentality. And what he can achieve from doing that as a coach in the future. Arriola should be ready for the weekend, and maybe Marc Guehi going off at half time means a return for Ryan Bennett or Joel Latibeaudiere at Kenilworth Road.
The match facts
Steve Cooper had made two changes from the win over Middlesbrough, with Jamal Lowe and Jake Bidwell coming into the side as Korey Smith and Ryan Manning dropped to the bench. It proved an eventful start, with Blackburn seeing penalty appeals waved away after Marc Guehi had tussled with Dack for the ball in the area. And Ayew forced Thomas Kaminski into a sharp save from a Bidwell cross, although the offside flag ensured it would not have counted had it found the net.
Dack then failed to get on the end of an excellent cross from Ben Brereton, before Swansea were denied a fourth penalty in four games as referee Robert Jones answered in the negative when Ayew’s header struck the hand of Rovers captain Darragh Lenihan. But it was the home side who took the lead eight minutes before the interval as Dack fired the ball low past Woodman, after John Buckley was given too much time to slide a ball into the Swansea area. However, they were handed the chance to level when Jay Fulton was fouled by Sam Gallagher in the area just four minutes later. Ayew stepped up and – as had been the case against Bristol City, Stoke and Middlesbrough – found the net, as Kaminski could not get a firm enough hand to his strike down the middle.
The game threw up little talking points after that, unless you are one of the Swansea penalty conspiracy theorists, but then GP appointments do take a while to get these days, people will go anywhere to make themselves feel good. Even to those areas of the mind that aren’t in tune with every day life.
More action outside the ground than inside at Ewood Park
And Cooper conceded Swansea were well off it in Lancashire, although he admits his side will gladly take a point after being second best in Blackburn. "Certainly in the first half, I didn't like us at all," he said. Not the team I want us to be in terms of our style. If we're going to make mistakes, I want us to do it our way, and that wasn't the case in the first half, so that needed addressing. The second half, a little bit better, but not brilliant. The game wasn't great in the end with all the changes and Blackburn were committing so many bodies up the pitch and it became a game that needed managing truth be told. I didn't love the game, certainly didn't love our performance. It could have been better, but, I've got to say, it could have been worse as well. Credit to Blackburn, they did play well on the night. We're a point better off, it was one of the games in hand, and sometimes if you don't play well, make sure you don't lose."
Hourihane in action at Ewood Park
Swans unsung hero Jay Fulton was pleased his side did not lose. “It was an even game and not the best of matches,” declared Fulton. It’s a hard place to go. The schedule is tough at the moment too, so we look at it as another point on the board. It could turn into a good point come the end of the season. “There is no getting around it. We have three away games within the space of a week, but that’s the way it is. We will stick together and try to get three more points. They are a good side, so we take the positives from it and move onto Saturday against Luton.”
Ayew's spot-kick - his fourth in as many games - was the only attempt Swansea managed on target during the game. And Cooper says Swansea's direct play did little to bolster their hopes of causing problems at the business end of the pitch. "I'm not concerned about it [lack of goal threat]. I can't say I love it when we play a game and we're not creating chances or scoring goals," he explained. But it's hard. It's a tough schedule. We didn't play so well in the first half and when we don't play well, we're not going to create chances. We have to play well on the ball to create chances."
The game itself was a well earned point, nobody was lucky, it was just a drab game that Swansea benefited from more than their hosts, on another day, and that could easily come on Saturday if this form persists, it would be a clear loss. I’m still sticking with my Steve Cooper theory that two seasons as a manager in the championship and two play off places is right up there with his progression as a modern day coach. And if a few players suffer along the way that’s how the game goes at times. It’s not cynical but it is fact, joint second on goal difference is a lot better than second from bottom and looking like going down. And that’s the hit swans fans have to make, it’s a clear one, we are doing everything we should do to enter the lottery at the end of the season, and Cooper already has a ticket.
And we as lifelong followers of a unique and exciting football club had better get used to it.
What is your view on the swans after the draw at Ewood Park ?
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