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Swansea City 0 v 1 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 7th May 2022 Kick-off 12:30
Russell Martin on new signings and the final day defeat to QPR
Sunday, 8th May 2022 10:37 by @Cornish67David & Keith Haynes

Russell Martin seemed comfortable enough when talking about the final game of the season defeat to Queens Park Rangers. In fact he was happy to reference his players as part of the reason for that defeat. He may well be right, but let’s examine those words a little closer.

On the actual performance Martin said post match. “It was a really disappointing way to finish the season,” said Martin. In the first half we were too slow and laboured, there was not enough intensity. A lot comes into that, I think a few players were in self-preservation mode and a few who are maybe unsure of their futures here”

That final bit does annoy slightly because there’s no way if the manager and coaching team have been in constant communication with players ( Martin’s words, not ours ) Then this should not be an issue. There shouldn’t be players uncertain of their future if communication is the key skill area Russell Martin uses every day with his charges. Yes the swans were slow and laboured and we have seen that far too many times this season, apparently this comes from tiredness …

The swans boss went on. “The back three and goalkeeper took an awful lot of responsibility in the first half and did not get anywhere near enough help. I thought they were great, the ball was with them continuously because there was not enough energy and help. When we did get into the final third we gave it away far too cheaply. We had people looking to finish the season on a high, trying to force the killer pass and making decisions that might not have been taken had it not been the last game and had we felt mentally that there was really something riding on the game.”

Hannes Wolf scored a perfectly good goal but had it ruled out against QPR

Giving the ball (and games) away cheaply has been creeping in again over the past month. We acknowledge that Russell Martin has a small squad with not a lot of back up, but some of the mistakes yesterday were basic and pretty alarming considering all these guys do all day is kick a ball. Well, you get our drift. Basic control and quick thinking is where Martin wants to be, he wasn’t and isn’t after this showing. His final thoughts were interesting though. “We got on top and dominated but the goal we concede was so basic and it was because we had to move one of our best midfielders into a different position. If Joel (Latibeaudiere) stays on that goal does not happen, but it’s due to the lack of depth. Without that we do not concede that goal. People might say just put a centre-half on the bench, but the people on the bench are the people who deserve to be on the bench. It’s as simple as that. But that lack of depth has probably been the story of the season for us.”

The bench comment is hard to figure out. You have to have defensive cover in positions where it is needed, and the swans do have that. It’s pretty clear now that Ryan Bennett has more than fallen out of favour, in fact it’s not for these pages just yet but Finley Burns and Nathanael Ogbeta are in the same boat. And yes, they are all defenders, the very weakness in the swans defence which has been displayed over many games this season. It’s hard to work out why you would put players on the bench because they deserve to be there - when you could have players who could possibly win you the game instead ?

For us, personally that’s a flaw, and signs of cracks in the character of the manager. We don’t constantly repeat the same mantra here at Swansea independent that some choose to refer back to. We look at the information and comment accordingly. When there is an issue that we see we point it out.Where there is a point that requires challenging, we most certainly do it. Russell Martin has been given a free hit this season, and he goes in to the summer with a lack of cash and indicating players will have to leave. Unfortunately when you are building by way of a well documented process - getting rid of those valuable assets will make little sense. Unless of course you are successful in the rebuild from the previous seasons building of a squad that’s been sold on.

Running in quick sand I think they call it.

That said we have seen some beautiful football this season, some majestic stuff and that’s what we have to hang our hats on for the next campaign. As Martin says, and it’s very important we understand these comments on retaining what we have for the early start in July. Especially on Hannes Wolf and Cyrus Christie. "They both want to stay," he said about the pair. "It'll come down to finances. Both have sacrificed finance this year to come which shows their character. We'll need to do it again and I'm not convinced we'll get to where we need to get to. We'll have to really look at it and make a decision on that really soon on how far we're willing to go. Hannes really wants to stay. I thought he'd use this to kick-start his career then go back to Gladbach and really force his way back in there, but he feels he maybe doesn't have the future he would like there. He's enjoyed it that much, he spoke about the supporters yesterday and he's never had that experience. He's really enjoyed it which is great for us. But I'm not sure we'll be able to do it. I'd love to but I'm just not sure."

It’s not empty words this time, it’s wishes and hopes from a manager who knows these two players have been decent for the swans. Whether they are good enough to raise our hopes for next season is in the air. Who those extra faces the manager wants is known by a few people only, but apparently they are known. Russell Martin has a number of players already sourced for every position, and I would imagine those players disappear by value dependent on who the swans sell this summer. Trading for a full pre season then getting those new players to blend is Russell Martin’s job, and that’s where he stands or falls next time around.

A ‘next time around’ we feel that could end very suddenly if it all falls apart, and the reason is down to investment and a lack of ability to get those players in. For now Russell Martin has space and room to manoeuvre, but many swans fans are getting frustrated about what may or may not lay ahead. And as we know football fans are a hard bunch to please. Our Russell has had plenty of time to show what he can do, and he has, but not enough and definitely not to everyone’s satisfaction.

And then maybe have a little bit of a closer look at yourself, it sometimes works.

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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