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Russell Martin delivers on his promises and this season he has more points to prove
Thursday, 14th Jul 2022 12:36 by Keith Haynes

It wasn’t even a year ago when Russell Martin and his coaching team came to Swansea City. Identified as a leader with a clear philosophy on how to play football, he came with a lot to prove. Since then the majority of swans fans have given him leeway to project his mindset on to the Swansea squad. He had to develop players and of course prove his worth financially within a strict remodelling of a new and far lower budget.

The first thing Russell Martin did was bring in Flynn Downes. The Swansea City ownership had to show their belief in him as much as Martin was about to commit to them. As Martin says. “It reflects really well on everyone that's been involved in his ( Downes) development, his team-mates, the staff here, Matt Gill who identified that we should bring him to the club, and the owners backed us on that. Gilly has to take a huge amount of credit because he understood the kid. He was in the U23 side at Ipswich when we took him, and had fallen out of love with football, so it's a real success story. Hopefully there'll be more success stories like that. I've said all the way along that the most beautiful thing would be for us all to get there, the Premier League together. If that doesn't happen, the aim is to enable loads of others to get there and make sure this club is stable financially."

Downes cost in the region of £1.5 million with a percentage sell on clause. When he left for West Ham for £9 million plus up to £5 million add ons Ipswich took around £900k of that money minus the sale fee and incidentals. Now Swansea have imposed their own criteria on West Ham for any future sale. The point here is Russell Martin made promises, and the first one he made was things would take time, but we all had to have patience and of course a little bit of faith. Over the years, Roberto Martínez, Brendan Rodgers, Michael Laudrup and Graham Potter set up Swansea to dominate a football match. That’s exactly what Martin is doing.

That has certainly happened, and at times the swans destroyed the opposition last season. And yes of course it backfired as many times as well. Some of Russell Martin’s dissenters got louder at any chance to derail and undermine his long term plans. As he said to the Guardian.“If you don’t believe in what we’re doing, no problem, but we really do,” There had to be more patience applied, a proper pre season managed, and of course a turn around in personnel that wasn’t to come cheap. Martin had the Steve Cooper inspired Joel Piroe signing to get to grips with as well as the Michal Obafemi capture from Southampton. Both players he didn’t authorise, but he worked with them. It took a while, and for anyone who thinks that these two high profile championship goal scorers are there because ‘It just happened’ hasn’t been paying attention.

They had to buy in to the managers philosophy and when they did they flourished.

And the result today is a £20M transfer fee on Piroe’s head, Obafemi maybe needs another year to settle down even more. Some wag mentioned the other day that Swansea would sell Piroe for £10M if an offer came in, and that was ‘after’ Flynn Downes had gone to West Ham for a million less. It’s hard sometimes to grasp the negativity of certain sections of the Swansea fan base and try to understand it. It’s almost as if they desire failure more than success, I could go further.

By recycling his staff and players and then continuing on his journey within the training environment and on a match day the glimpses of success were there. The defeats of West Bromwich Albion and twice over Cardiff were a joy to watch. So much so a win against Peterborough United was met with a ‘shrug’ of the shoulders and a ‘oh we expected that’

Really silly.

Russell Martin Has proven his worth with a magnificent profit on the Flynn Downes sale. A player the swans wouldn’t have had if the current ownership had not appointed him last August. That’s proof of his ability to bring in a player, develop him massively and move on for a huge profit. As he said we want to get there with these players and of course for us it has to be despite them as well - that’s what we have all signed up to. We’ve seen Ethan Laird another Martin inspired loan signing. Harry Darling too. Matt Sorinola has shown glimpses, both the managers decisions. Jamie Paterson was also snapped up on a free. Martin knows a player when he see’s one. You have to return faith in a head coach that can do that. Andy Fisher hasn’t had the best of starts but we have seen him thrust in to the championship spotlight playing a formation that has to be the most difficult there is. Especially for a goalkeeper.

Moving forwards Russell Martin is very clear in his vision for the rest of the summer and next season up until September 1st. “We are certainly in a better place than we were last season, in terms of being ready for the new season, we weren’t even here at this stage last season. Physically the players are definitely in a better place than last season in terms of being conditioned for the way we want to play. We are pleased with where we are at” There are still two more friendlies of sorts to get through, and as we have seen there is a new flexibility in the way the swans are to play this season. Proof that Russell Martin can develop his own strategies from what he see’s and learns.

It isn’t everyone else who has to develop as he wants them to, it’s a group learning curve.

As Harry Darling commented this week on the new season approach to formations “I think that is going to be key, it ensures we are not predictable and means we have those options of playing in different formations. It can only be an advantage for us and hopefully it can keep teams guessing, we are working hard to make sure we can perform to a high level when we use those different options.”

There seems to be more to come as well, as the boss explained "I think we need a few players in a couple of different areas. What areas we need them in I think will become more evident as the games go on and we'll have a bit a bit more of an understanding for it. We've had priorities over the summer and we've ticked a fair few of them off in every position, our first-choice targets in every position really. We have to wait for the first choice in some of the other positions. We'll just have to see how that develops."

Morgan Whittaker is weighing up his options as well, the manager politely said the loan move to any one of three league one clubs ( our sources state Portsmouth, Lincoln and Bristol Rovers ) is a two way thing that has to be good for the swans and him. That move is very close with the boss reflecting on Tuesday. "Morgan wasn't involved tonight because he's discussing a loan move as it stands. It might not be the right one for us or for him, so we'll see where that comes to."

It seems the club is in very capable hands. The majority owners are not running away with all the cash, they are reinvesting and they are supporting Russell Martin where they can. His targets are being pursued and the players he see’s as surplus know their position. There’s little more he can do other than prove his ability financially and on the pitch, that comes this season, with a squad he wants - not what Steve Cooper left behind.

Surely that’s a year well spent, and a season yet to come that is full of hope and possibility ?

Photograph Swansea City AFC



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