Duff on a role : The fans are right behind him !
Wednesday, 1st Nov 2023 08:31 by Keith Haynes
He’s been at Swansea City for one hundred and thirty three days. And for some that may not seem a long time. Well, in managerial terms, especially at Swansea City it isn’t. Managers do come and go but generally on good terms.
In fact it’s nearly always the case.
The majority ownership are reluctant to pay off their managers without at least some very frank discussions ( Steve Cooper ) or negotiate intensely ( Graham Potter and Russell Martin ) and generally come out of the mix looking pretty decent financially. In Michael Duff’s case he came in to a June ship that was pretty unsteady as a summer overhaul of the Swans was in full flow. This feature is in no way a reflection of those changes, the people concerned or the events to date, this is about Michael Duff.
Results breed supporter confidence, especially the good ones. And yes the bad ones do as well if the the performance is encouraging. There is a difference between losing badly and losing well. For an example this season look no further than Leicester City at home for an encouraging loss, or Bristol City at home for a pretty bad one. Results do reflect the managers ‘happy rating’ with supporters, if they see a performance deserving of more than a loss they don’t pitch up at work on Monday morning as gloomy as they could be.
However, nobody likes losing.
Early signs this season were good for Duff, however they quickly deteriorated and social media became some sort of blood letting on the club. Everyone got a handful of twitter spice, the reaction was astonishing. The long love affair then the acrimonious split with Russell Martin was hard to take for some when he left Swansea. We at the Indy saw his positivity as refreshing and of course were disappointed in the way he left the club. For us as well he also joined another long list of Swansea managers who gave us some fantastic and ‘interesting’ times, others of course will disagree.
We ran a poll early on in the season. And it was at a time when Duff was let’s say under some pressure results wise. Here are the the thoughts over the week starting September 18th, it was just post that Cardiff City performance and feelings in general were very high.
We also ran a feature on the situation at the time. Basically, Duff was in trouble.
That’s here ⚽️ Duff has three games
It was indeed a sensitive time for Duff, he hadn’t done himself any favours with his comments pre the derby game in some fans opinions. And the loss was the cherry on top. Fans immediately looked at what fixtures were to come, and the head coach had his work cut out. The first test was Queens Park Rangers on the Tuesday of that week. An encouraging start to that fixture saw the Swans give up their one goal lead and Ollie Cooper got his marching orders. Still, it was a point away from home.
The players and management had a pow wow, strategy on a match day was tweaked ( no manager plays rigid formations ) and that four game run of hope started. The defeat of Sheffield Wednesday was expected, a loss there and the Swans were really going to be on dodgy ground. It wasn’t a clinical win, but three goals to none conceded was a first for the season. Of course hope springs eternal albeit briefly and the trip to Millwall after that left many with little hope of a result. Of course, as we know the Swans glided to an impressive victory (3-0) and followed that up with a home win v Norwich (2-1) The table began to look a lot more encouraging, especially when the sold out away end at Plymouth witnessed another three goal salvo winning 3-1.
Leicester City was a free hit for many, and as expected the Swans went down 3-1, but the overall performance did give supporters a glimpse of their team up against a Premier League ready side. Albeit a recently relegated one. It wasn’t that bad, and decisions on the day went against the Swans. Other views are available.
The big disappointment was the result at home to Watford where nothing really came off, a disallowed goal that was good didn’t help, and Watford won with a superb strike. It was almost like a return to those days, not that long before, in fact only a month when Duff really was in a spot of bother. The turn around in general feeling towards the head coach was remarkable. In fact as shocking as the diatribe he received from some on social media when things weren’t going that well. Well over eighty percent were wither pleased with him ( Good ) or even better, very good.
Again we removed several erroneous entries leaving us with the detail in the diagram above. That’s just one calendar month from the absolute meltdown post Cardiff City. Of course four wins helped, and the recent form table saw the Swans right in the thick of the action at the top of the table. Last Saturday’s 1-0 win at Blackburn, monumentous for a number of reasons merely cemented the fact that this Swans side had plenty about them. Another goal ruled out that was so clearly onside didn’t affect the overall result, bar goal difference, thankfully.
The recent form table below has changed slightly but going back six games is generally the rule. With some context this is shaping up to be a decent end to the year. We are now in November and that table reflects how the Swans are faring. It doesn’t lie. With a home game coming up against Sunderland followed by the toughest away game so far this season at Ipswich - we then go in to the final international break of the year.
To say the confidence rating in Duff and his approach to managing the Swans has improved greatly would be an understatement. It’s like everything in football, fans react to what they have recently seen. We will react to what we have seen since that QPR game in west London the week the pressure was really on top of the club. That pressure was for ‘someone’ to do ‘something’ about the poor form the Swans found themselves in. The club held firm and didn’t overreact, and as we have seen things have turned dramatically. That isn’t to say that everything is now rosey and the bad times are behind us. We saw only a week or so ago how football matches can go against you.
And we have also seen how they can pivot on a single result when the pressure is really on.
Artwork by Swansea Independent: Top six table by Fishy
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