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Russell Martin talks about Charlton Athletic, Piroe and the unique differences to last season
Sunday, 24th Jul 2022 07:30 by Keith Haynes

A very positive and surprisingly happy Russell Martin reflected on his sides 2-1 friendly win against Charlton Athletic post match yesterday evening. In fact his reflections were so positive you have to trust in what he says because clearly his plans to win more football matches this season is being put in to place.

We say this as the swans manager wanted to treat the Charlton game as an experience to get back in to the preparation and travel for away games this season. So we assume that prepererarion extended to the game itself ? A touch sarcastic possibly ?

Not at all.

On the first half, which was possibly the most calamitous seen this pre season Martin was of course not happy but as we have said very positive as well. “Overall I’m really pleased, I thought we played some brilliant stuff, controlled for so long, big parts of the game. It was a good test for us in possession and out of possession but there were a few too many scary moments in the first half. But we are trying something really different, and the goal really sums that period up. After fifteen or twenty minutes we got to grips with it and really played some great stuff”

First off we are struggling with that assessment as Joel Latibeaudiere was show a clean pair of heels by Tyler Blackett on numerous occasions, it was down to his poor delivery that Charlton didn’t score more. The same could be said for Steven Sessegnon, both players worked hard to expose Swansea’s right defensive flank time and time again. Russell Martin was clear on what now seems to be a continued learning curve of development. “We have to accept that when we are playing in this way and we are asking the players to be so brave it’s very different to a lot of other teams”

We agree with the bravery side of things, but that doesn’t explain the total lack of pace in that opening forty minutes of the game.The players choosing the easy pass instead of ‘being brave’ turning back on themselves ( lack of pace ) and rebuilding when an obvious pass which would have caused more danger was available. The manager seems confident that the same mistakes won’t occur as often as they did last season. “There will be a few moments this season, as there were last season but they became less and less, albeit we have players who have played for me or for us before. The way we react to those moments will define what we do really”

The mistakes were cleared up as the season went on agreed, however the capitulations against Bournemouth and Reading at the end of the season shouldn’t be erased from the memory. Okay they were different mistakes, and were not like todays mistakes. But mistakes they were. And it’s easy to question Russell Martin at this stage, to pick apart his responses. That’s not the reason for analysing his post match interview here. However, as we said if this was a real time experience of an away game for the players it has to be reviewed in that way. “Our crowd get anxious, said Martin “When there is a mistake, by the way they are brilliant and stick with it, and you can feel that anxiety from the players as well, and the opposition fans can feel there’s been a mistake or whatever. You know it’s how we deal with those moments that will really define our season” Talking on his players reaction Martin spoke of ‘ bringing the temperature of the game down’ we see that as slowing the game to almost walking pace as we saw yesterday at Charlton ? “ As pre season tests go it was a brilliant one, really pleased with the mentality of the group, the resilience they showed, we have a lot of young players out there’

We are going to put it more down to luck than resilience yesterday, the more ruthless championship sides will expose this particular Swansea defence, irrespective of how it sets up. It has too many ponderous moments on the ball, and seeks to increase possession by playing balls in their own time which for us loses any momentum and vision moving forwards. However, we admire what Martin is trying to do at Swansea City, he did lose some support last season especially towards the end. Not enough to cause him any pain but people were getting a bit weary when the side didn’t perform. “It’s the definition of any person really, if we ask them to show courage or be brave it implies there’s fear somewhere and we are just trying to take that away from them really. Our supporters have a big role to play in that as well, they are incredible. We want to make Swansea City different and unique “

Russell Martin’s vision is every fans vision for their club, he is adamant and at times totally focussed on his objectives. Martin is convinced Obafemi will get goals to add to last season as well “Mike has been great as well, he has had about four goals chalked off for offside that haven’t been. When you are that quick it’s really easy to get that wrong if you are an official. There will be goals hopefully spread more around the team this season and for Joel ( Piroe) he has picked up from where he left off”

Martin gave a bit more of an insight in to the Joel Piroe of early last season and now “He is in a much better physical condition, we had a rocky start and I didn’t see him becoming the player he has done for us” As we saw from Piroe’s goal it was a controlled set piece and down to Andy Parslow ( restart coach ) who has practised the move. “ Today it was a set piece, he ( Piroe ) didn’t have to be in a position other than Andy told him to be in. As long as we get Joel in the right position, same as Michael, give them the ball we will score goals”

“I think we didn’t have enough depth last season, we really have to maintain ourselves this year, I think subs in football are looked at in the wrong way at times, we have spoken about that, we have a little bit more depth than we had last season, we want a little bit more but we have real options now “

The manager described Cameron Congreve as fearless when he came on late in the game to work the winning goal. On the work outs during pre season ? “We feel really good about it. We've worked really hard physically, and all the games beforehand they’ve ( the players ) have gone in to the games a little bit fatigued probably. It’s less about the physical now and more about what Rotherham will throw at us and us turning it in to the game we want to turn it in to. Everyone is in a better place”

The season is a long one and we do like Russell Martin’s way of managing and coaching, utilising key developmental ideals and implementing them individually, and as a group. It can only make a team better and give them more courage. A pre season game is just that, and the only real concern is what Russell Martin didn’t see what many others have. It could well be he is playing to the cameras at times, there will be many things said in the privacy of the dressing room and on the training pitch nobody ever hears or see’s. And as he said on the season now a week away. “Its exciting, I don’t have any expectation on that, we will take it game by game, I can’t look any further than that and the players will decide where we finish”

Regardless of anyones thoughts on this process we have all witnessed over the past year, and it is a year now, Russell Martin does bring with him a lot of hope his philosophy can work. We saw it at times last season, not enough, but we did see it. We obviously expect to see it more this season too. The manager and his coaching team are happy at Swansea, their desire to win and win well is clear. “We know how much it means to everyone, I’ve said it from day one the way we have been accepted, us and our families, we just want everyone to have a team they can be proud of”

We can’t argue with that. Russell Martin either inspires fans or he doesn’t, he’s marmite, and most people love it, he has still a lot to prove. However let’s not forget that double last season, and the hope he brought us from a good ten top performances over the past year. For us far better in their structure and more than anything we have seen in recent times. Despite Steve Cooper’s success over two seasons. This feels far more braver, far more positive and almost a suicide mission at times in the way the swans play.

That’s exciting.

Yes we have analysed Russell Martin’s comments from yesterdays game, but we also have hope he has that real conviction this whole mad thing will succeed. We are a completely different club to many others. Nothing compares to Swansea city in the championship. And from next Saturday the gloves are off, and it’s the reality of championship football.

This is all of course resting on the shoulders of numerous young shoulders with the odd bit of older influence. Come on Jacks, admit it, you can’t wait for the new season ! No matter if you like the boss or not we all cheer as loud as each other when that ball hits the back of the net.

Do we not ?

Photographs Swansea City AFC



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Badlands added 11:12 - Jul 24
If he is going to look at four across the back as an occasional staring line up or as a system change in a game Wood and Darling are not the answer.
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