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Birmingham City 2 v 1 Swansea City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 23rd October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Russell Martin ‘ We didn’t have the energy, we lacked intensity”
Sunday, 24th Oct 2021 09:00 by Keith Haynes

At the end of a gruelling six days of football swans boss Russell Martin was clearly disappointed at his sides efforts in Birmingham on Saturday, so much so there was little he could say other than Birmingham won because they had more energy and always looked a threat. For us they were far and away the better side on the day.

It was a shame we didn’t see similar performances to those against West Brom and Cardiff before that, but that as we all should know by now that isn’t the way football goes. If it was that easy it wouldn’t be so exciting in the build up, and so disappointing after games like this end. That’s why we are football fans.

It was obvious to everyone watching the swans were nowhere near their normal performance levels, Martin agreed “The players were tired, there's no doubt about it," he said. "We lacked the intensity that we had in the previous two games. "I thought we had a lot of control in the first half without really threatening, I don't think they threatened at all either, really. "We had one scary moment when we lost the ball through Mat Grimes, who was outstanding”

Maybe he was giving certain players a bit more credit than they deserved, because the amount of challenges lost, players being totally out muscled and obviously lacking composure seemed to be the issue. Yes, that could be down to tiredness, but it’s the same for everyone in the Championship, the swans are no different.

Ethan Laird was a prime example of a player well below par in Birmingham

Martin continued "That was it, really. There was nothing in the game. It was really important how we started the second half and we started it really poorly. It was a 10-minute spell that undid us. They looked dangerous, they looked a threat and it was just energy, we couldn't match that energy, people taking too many touches and some of the decision making and detail wasn't right because we were tired. It's been physically and emotionally a really tough week”

And yes, he is right, but you have to question ‘There was nothing in the game’ okay, goals wise he was right, but control wise, and individual desire and commitment were all on the side of Birmingham City. It was obvious Michael Obafemi’s first goal for the swans was a big plus point, but what was so annoying was the way the second Birmingham goal was conceded. Once again a lack of determination led to the ball breaking kindly for substitute McGree, who was thwarted once by Ben Hamer but sadly the rebound fell kindly and it was game over.

"We got back into the game and looked like we were on top and I thought at 1-1 we had a chance to go on and win the game or at least secure a point and they scored which was frustrating” the swans boss added. "It was one game too many, probably, for too many of the players. I am really pleased for him for Michael, that's testament to the hard work he's put in this week”

If you do read between the lines it’s clear Russell Martin was setting an example to Michael who has clearly worked hard this week to get back in to the team. However that commitment may not be all the time if his next sentence is to be examined "It's evidence for him that you have to train really well, Martin said, “You have to train how you play, with intensity, you have to ‘behave‘ day in, day out, how you're going to take it on to the pitch. It's as simple as that”

Slightly tempered for the press maybe, but the message is clearly there.

However, the swans coach had a very supportive end to his comments “He's worked really hard to get himself fully fit which is where we need him to be and I thought he had a real impact when he came on. Hopefully that will relax him a little bit and he can settle into his stride and he'll be very good for us. “He hadn’t trained fully until this week, but this week he’s worked extremely hard in the gym and on the training pitch. The way he was with the guys in the dressing room at the Cardiff and West Brom games was fantastic, energising people, and that’s why he deserved to be back involved today. Thankfully for us he’s come through it and he’s done really well so that will give him loads of confidence.”

A big plus point was the impact of Michael Obafemi

Michael Obafemi was clearly a plus point in Birmingham, but possibly the only one in what was a performance far beyond what was expected by the very large travelling swans support. We will leave the final word to Russell Martin at the end of a disappointing result in Birmingham “We weren’t clean, people taking too many touches and some decision-making and detail wasn’t right because they are tired” He is right of course, but as we have already pointed out, it’s the same for everyone. Swansea City are no different.

Swansea City fans ten minutes before kick off at Birmingham City

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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