Russell Martin ‘A man with a clear vision at Swansea City’
Friday, 19th Nov 2021 10:16 by Ben Fisher : The rest David Cornish
Russell Martin has clearly used his time during the final international break of the year well. The youngest coach in the four divisions spoke directly to Ben Fisher this week, covering subjects from the environment to swimming in Swansea bay. It’s a great insight in to Martin’s mindset. Swansea Independent fill in the gaps.
Integrating in to the community is always an important part of every persons move to a new area when they are high profile. Russell Martin knows this, he plays five a side locally, and loves swimming in the sea. His family too are loving the area, and it seems the people have had a dramatic impact on the Martin family. His desire to implement his very different style and football belief on his Swansea City squad is one thing, the way he does it with emotional learning will take longer for egotistical players to grasp. It seemed to baffle a few swans fans as well. But that’s the point. Reflecting back on his MK Dons days Martin talks affectionately of his time at the club and their firm belief in ball retention. “It wasn’t a big deal to me – it was just common sense. It helped us build a bit of siege mentality. It was like: ‘Look, no one believes we can do this and no one wants us to be successful doing this.’ It’s the British mentality towards football. Traditionally, it’s been about rolling your sleeves and fighting but, slowly but surely, it’s changing.”
This is not breaking news, Martin and his coaching teams have stuck with this philosophy now for two years. Doubling passes in a game to that of the opposition, gaining more forward passes than any other side is the first test of this new ‘Swansea Way’ What the stats show very clearly is it works, and when it does work properly with the swans dominating the ball and possession it’s hard to live with. This was evidenced in the latest home win against Peterborough United and the destruction of Cardiff City. However it clearly comes with flaws as well, the last time the swans stepped out in a professional football match they were crushed 4-0 by Bournemouth. That alone will tell folk this journey is seriously in its infancy, and those expecting immediate change should possibly invest some patience in Martin’s vision.
Being Brighton born Russell Martin finds himself again on a beautiful coast line often underrated much the same as his current position in west Wales. On the area Martin said “We’re loving it. I swim in the sea as much as I can, after training or on days off.” His 10-year-old, Reno, has joined Swansea’s academy and his youngest, Leo, is in the pre-academy with the midfielder Korey Smith’s eldest and the former winger Nathan Dyer’s son. “If you’re coaching an under-six, the first thing you want them to do is get them comfortable with the ball. It’s not run, it’s not run the channel, it’s not kick it really far, it’s not ping it or shoot, it’s try and control the ball with two feet. That principle, as basic as it sounds, is the same here.” It started off at Ajax of course who developed the so-called TIPS model, which stands for Technique, Insight, Personality and Speed. For each part there are ten criteria. P and S are generally innate properties, but I and T can always be developed further. Ajax coaching sessions always consists of 8 important football ingredients. Together with TIPS, they form the core to the Ajax success philosophy. Although based on a more rigid back four it’s the model that goes throughout the twenty Ajax teams, from the youngest to the first team. And that philosophy is being repeated at Swansea City.
Slowly, but passionately, carefully managed and developed with care.
It was interesting to to hear of Russell Martin’s environmental beliefs. “There were two weeks of lots of conversation but without much consequence. It was like: ‘We’ll get together in this room, we’ll chat about it, show people we care and then we’ll just see what happens.’ That tends to be the way of leaders at the minute. When you have the opportunity to try, at least show people you are really trying.” Obviously not a fan of the world and governments attempts to stifle climate change by talking and not actually doing. As soon as Barack Obama said “It’s great to be back in the emerald isles” (He was in Glasgow) I personally turned off, I wasn't convinced by any of this, it seemed to me the whole thing was doing nothing other than paying lip service.
It was interesting to to read his thoughts, and they were protective, on footballers themselves. ‘You’re role models, you have to behave properly.’ But when they put their head above the parapet and say something that some people don’t agree with, it’s like: ‘No, no, no you’re a footballer, put yourself back in your box.’ When footballers are showing a lot more decency than the prime minister, and a lot of the government officials, then there is a bit of a problem” Clearly Martins politics lay far away from the current incumbent at 10 Downing Street.
“Talking about politics now, I’m getting angry,” is Martin’s final word
Russell Martin leaves his final thoughts wide open for all to see. “This is such a good place in terms of the people, how friendly they are, how supportive they have been. I think they can see we’re trying to do something that is really aligned with what the club has done previously, in its modern history.”
We all know at Swansea Independent that this process change will take a fair while, in fact it could be it is an eternal flame in its progression. We expect that, but with Blackpool on the horizon, and a return to fortress Swansea, we all hope the form displayed in October and November reruns as Christmas is only five weeks away.
Photographs licensed from Reuters
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