|Watford 2 v 0 Swansea City|
Saturday, 8th May 2021 Kick-off 12:30
Swansea City on the brink of something really huge ?
Sunday, 9th May 2021 09:00 by Keith Haynes
It’s our most read feature on Swansea Independent. The Sunday supplement. Keith Haynes, our site owner and best selling football writer for some thirty years tells it very straight indeed. Read on, it’s fascinating, and most certainly without any prejudice, just how we like it. : David Cornish For Swansea Independent
The away result won’t matter that much to those who watched the Watford game this weekend. The final game of the scheduled championship season. 2-0 may well have flattered the hornets but they gave the swans a lesson in finishing at Vicarage Road on Saturday. It was a game that mirrored much of the season for Steve Cooper’s side, confident and clever at times, a lack of finishing most of this time, and a loss of concentration defensively when it was needed most.
It isn’t that Steve a Cooper is a bad coach or manager, he most certainly isn’t. He may have his critics but given the tools he has at his disposal to get to eighty points in a tough and arduous season is no mean feat. it equals the swans best ever haul in the championship and its equivalent names throughout the years, and that’s something he should be proud of. Unfortunately the expectation that many Swansea City watchers have is far higher than this side can deliver. Many supporters come from the premier league era, and they know nothing about the struggles that many have had to put up with for years. A young age cannot know what went before, of course not, and in a way you have to be thankful. A young person and their team are easily parted in these days of illustrious achievement, major trophies and premier league success. When the bells no longer toll and the sound of success is no longer heard many depart the platform for another destination,
What the swans have in Steve Cooper is a young and enthusiastic coach with a legacy of success behind him already. Other clubs will class two seasons in the play offs as a remarkable achievement given what the swans have spent, and what they have sold on. Then to return a profit as well will appeal to many chairmen around the leagues. To balance that with some of the football we have witnessed under Cooper is difficult.it hasn’t been good at times, in fact it has been so bad in certain games the frustration has overwhelmed some supporters. In other matches the performance and ability shown by the swans has been remarkable, just when the side look down and out they fight back or level out a series of losses to bring new hope. That’s what we call courage.
Most of the time.
The swans ownership group, ever changing, never ending
The swans haven’t been stricken with injuries this season, that is to say the squad we had prior to January. Many will point to the loss of Morgan Gibbs-White as causing serious damage to the hopes and aspirations of the club this season, His loss was very noticeable. His return from injury in a cameo one off game was even more punishment when he was recalled days later by Wolves. Jordan Morris was a serious blow, as was to a lesser extent Paul Ariola, players who would have featured in those games that needed freshening up. Personally I am totally out of sorts with Conor Hourihane, a more non existent player in midfield I am yet to see this or in many recent seasons. His start was tremendous of course, but when the swans needed a real leader on the pitch he wasn’t there. His defensive attributes are limited, his work rate is only equalled by his lack of desire to put the real effort in. He just coasts games. I will quote Alan Curtis post match this weekend “ Conor is a great player, we know that, but we don’t see enough of him contributing when it matters. He needs to increase his work rate, that’s lacking” And of course most will agree. If Curt has the foresight to see that and even mention it, you know something is wrong.
Alan Curtis believes Hourihane needs to work harder off the ball
Saturdays game against Watford was predictable considering the words post match of Cooper “ Looking at what we have, and that showed in the second half, the choices we had to save the bodies of those we will need in the play offs meant getting anything from the game was going to be hard” Of course Cooper is right. The majority owners may well have thought they had done a great job with Morris and Ariola signing for the swans, in hindsight it proved that Cooper had little knowledge of what was going on in the USA regards transfers, and even less about the deals. When these players were coming to Swansea or to some extent who the hell they were was blatantly obvious, it was written all over the managers face. It stank of Bob Bradley, Landon Donavon and the forty thieves. Meddling for meddlings sake, signing half fit players or lightweight players if you like, who haven't recovered from serious injury enough to face the rigours of a real football season in the U.K. They may have been decent signings on paper but all it did was take up funds, cause disorientation within the squad and waste a whole lot of time.
Pointless and poor administration from thousands of miles away some may well say, but you can’t say they didn’t want the best for Swansea, it’s just they don’t really seem to know what the hell they are doing at times. Or is that all a part of the mystery ?
Andre Ayew has to stay fit and be at his best
Where the swans finished in the league is in one way remarkable, how they got there is almost astonishing. The football, as we have said has been woeful at times. Yes, clueless and lacklustre in its approach and implementation, horrible and boring at best. Not all the time of course, but it’s a lasting memory. However, that’s what you get with a half financed squad that the part owners have tried to support on the cheap. Jamal Lowe looks to be a bargain though, and in time we hope that Morgan Whittaker gains more confidence and some strength is added to his game. He too has had a fair start. Sadly that level of depth isn’t going to see the swans through the play offs, add Liam Cullen to Lowe and dangerman Andre Ayew and you will maybe get half a chance, but as we said, the investment has been half hearted so a half hearted play off chance is the most we can expect.
A keen eye in the free transfer market is one thing, getting a whole squad to tick with majority free transfers, academy players and loan signings is absolutely outstanding. Steve Cooper take a bow, that part of your coaching and management initiative at Swansea impresses me more and more every time I think about it.
There are some real players in midfield, and some quality and strength, albeit recently exposed, at the back. Freddie Woodman does concern me, however his golden gloves award has to be mentioned. I am sure he will be the first to state that the players in front of him are the real reason for his award. For me, his reactionary saves this season are up there with the best. There are numerous other areas of his game that need much concentration, but if the swans do need a penalty shoot out to win a semi final or final - of all the teams in the mix Freddie in goal to face any spot kick is first choice for sure.
To win any of these play off games Swansea City have to be at full strength with full concentration and thoroughly aware of their jobs on the pitch. Tardy passing, too much thought on the ball in the box, and over playing won’t win these games. Pure bloody mindedness and a winners heart is needed first and foremost. Ability and work ethic comes next with belief and total commitment to get the right result for the club is a must.These next two games will be full of drama, hope and excitement. The swans will go from looking like losing to looking like winning, to throwing it away to being totally frustrating. And that’s in the first ten minutes. That was Swansea City yesterday at Watford, and it has been the brief for the whole season, yesterday it was all in one. Forty five games that had gone before all in ninety minutes at Vicarage Road. If that swans team turns up the play offs then they are finished before they start. However if the swans team we know and have seen brief glimpses of this season are on duty then we know a Wembley final is within the clubs grasp.
So, in a one off it’s really down to one thing. Luck. And to be perfectly honest other clubs fans may well think Swansea had two lucky penalties in four games a few months back. That’s not luck, that’s the referee giving a decision. Luck is when your fortunes are smiling. Yes, when the stars all gather in one place and shine a pathway guiding you to victory. Thats luck, not an error by a match officials or otherwise. So we hope and hope even more for a north London final with shining stars and a big smiley face on the end of it. Of course a dodgy penalty just to rub the faces of many a fan in the dirt once more would do. Well, that would be funny, wouldn’t it ?
Watford v Swansea City Extra
Rocket man celebrates
Steve Cooper commented post match. You're always disappointed to lose. I quite liked us in the game - I didn't think it was a 2-0 game. We didn't threaten the goal enough, particularly in the second half, and they did. That was where the game was won and lost. We finished fourth, which I think is an excellent return, and now we can look forward to the play-offs. Going into these play-offs, we should fear nothing and go for it."
Watford v Swansea City : The goals
Steve Cooper post match interview
Play off dates
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