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Jack Butty : Swansea City players are at fault for a miserable Easter !
Wednesday, 3rd Apr 2024 08:00 by Andrew Winfield

The old warrior with his crystal gazing football returns, and again his senses are working overtime. If this continues there will be a big queue for the plank come the end of this season. And we shouldn’t forget the many thousands willing to push those who talk too much off it - right into the deep and perilous dark foreboding sea.

The Bank Holiday weekend, which was anticipated with much excitement by Swans fans, turned out to be a disappointment. Just two weeks prior, the Swans had delivered the season's best performance, defeating Cardiff. This win instilled hope, leading us to believe we could continue in this vein with combative performances against two teams battling relegation. It didn’t turn out that way. It was a banana skin that the management team should have anticipated and prepared for, but it didn’t look like they had.

The performance against Sheffield Wednesday harked back to those earlier in the season. One commentator neatly summed it up as “possession without purpose.” It was actually worse than that. As anyone could have predicted, Wednesday were physical and had plenty of purpose. Once again, we were out-muscled and withdrew into our shell, where we saw Harry Darling and Nathan Wood playing tippy-tappy to each other across the back line and the team going nowhere. If Wednesday had brought their goal-scoring boots, they could have easily run out winners 3-1, and, let’s face it, they deserved all 3 points.

I’d hoped that Luke Williams would have had some harsh words for that team and would have made changes for the game against QPR. Changes were made with Ollie Cooper, Jerry Yates, and Joe Allen starting. The harsh words appear to have been saved for another day. The first half against QPR was lacklustre. The buildup was ponderous and predictable. QPR pressed hard, and, as so often, teams that do that cause us to hesitate and slow down. The possession stats were high again but with too little intent or threat. The second-half start was much better, and it was clear that Williams had told the players at halftime to move the ball faster.

That worked well, with good interplay, movement, pace being injected, chances created, and shots taken. The QPR goal was against the run of play, and after that, it was game over. We huffed and puffed, but the Hoops saw the game out fairly comfortably.
So, what do the last three weeks tell us?

⚽️ First, it’s clear that Williams can motivate the team for a derby game and put fire in the belly that was lacking when we lost to Cardiff earlier this season. The question is, can he ensure that this motivation is a feature of the team for every game? The answer to that so far is no. Mental toughness and grit are needed for every championship game. Anything less, and points are lost, and performances that aren’t competitive look like complacency to fans.

Before the Wednesday game Williams was asked about discussions with players soon to be out of contract. As he’s said before, he said no and that game time is used to evaluate players. Fans might reasonably expect that those players affected might not only be playing for the shirt but also for contract renewals. But disappointingly, it hasn’t looked that way in these last two games. Williams will need to ask himself and the team why they appear unable to put in performances consistently that demonstrate mental toughness and grit.

⚽️ Second, the team needs a midfield player from the Joe Allen mould. His injury today didn’t look good, but whether he is with the Swans next year or not, he is the type of player we are desperate to have next season. In the mould of Leon Britton, a player who breaks up and disrupts attacking play and restarts our build-up. A player who is a thorn in the opposition's side and is never intimidated.

⚽️ Third, we need a goal-scoring centre forward. Monday’s game saw lots of great crosses being knocked into the box, but no one in our team has the aerial prowess to attack those balls and convert them into goals. The Yates experiment isn’t working, and his confidence looks shot. Mykola Kuhrevich looks to have disappeared off the face of the earth.

⚽️ Fourth, Carl Rushworth has had an immense season for us and has saved the blushes of the defence and the team on numerous occasions. Hopefully, the stories that he will be with us again next season can be confirmed, and then Andy Fisher will be allowed to move on with us and look to recruit a number two to develop as our future goalie.

There are many more issues, but it’s important not to forget that Williams (above) inherited a poor squad. Coming in halfway through the season, he faced a baptism of fire against top teams and an FA Cup fiasco. Since then, the playing style has stabilised somewhat, but squad deficiencies are plain to see.

A massive reset and rebuild is needed in the summer. We can only hope Williams, Andy Coleman, and Paul Watson are up to the task.

Read our weekends take on those miserable two games

⚽️ Sheff Weds Match Report

⚽️ QPR Match Report

Photographs with permission Dimitris Legakis & Reuters

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