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Will the Swans learn from their mistakes ?
Friday, 31st May 2024 17:50 by Jack Butty

He’s back because he’s a Jack, the Butty man reappears, the snivelling skurvied outcast clinging to life like the barnacle he is. A salt ridden death reincarnated, yes, just like the club he supports from two hundred years ago, now called Swansea it was then called something else …

In football, form and results fluctuate. Some teams maintain a higher level of consistency, reaping the rewards of promotions and cup victories. Yet, even the most successful teams experience wobbles. These unpredictable twists and turns make the sport a fascinating spectacle for fans and neutral observers. Furthermore, there is always the pleasure of seeing the underdog that battles against the odds.

During our challenging season, the Swans' fierce display against Cardiff in mid-March was a standout moment. This match showcased our team's potential, delivering an outstanding performance and a much-needed victory, offering a glimmer of hope in an otherwise lacklustre series of games.

While this was happening, fans looked at how the race to lead the Championship would play out. The clubs expected to do well – Leeds, Southampton, Leicester did just that. With our former head coach now at Southampton, it was adding even more interest. But who but an Ipswich fan would have bet on them to get automatic promotion? What a thrilling and unexpected story that is. Promotions in successive seasons are an incredible achievement without spending vast amounts of money – it shows a club that knows what it is doing.

As the Swans teetered on the edge of relegation, our fans turned their attention to the bottom half of the table. In November, we were in nineteenth position, with Sheffield Wednesday and QPR propping up the table and seemingly destined for relegation. However, crucial coaching changes (Marti Cifuentes joining QPR in late October and Danny Rohl joining Wednesday in mid-October) sparked a significant improvement in both teams' performances, eventually leading them to safety. This underscores the pivotal role of coaching in football and its potential to turn a team's fortunes around.

In the New Year, Wednesday ground out some good results, including stuffing Cardiff 4-0 in the Third Round of the FA Cup and a great run-in during April and May, including beating WBA 3-0. It was a similar story for QPR, who battled to gain points early in the New Year and had a run-in to ending with a 4-0 thrashing of Leeds, followed by a 1-2 away win against Coventry in their final game of the season.

Not only did both clubs pull off remarkable escape stories, but they also seem likely to be strong teams for next season, with coaches who know what they’re doing to make them competitive.
The other club to catch my eye was Aston Villa, a team that hasn’t enjoyed success for many years. To finish 4th in the Premier League is a great achievement and all the more welcome as it’s an example of the unexpected breakthroughs into the expected top table of Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man Utd, and Spurs that happen so infrequently. Villa are coached by Unai Emery, who, while managing Sevilla, was talked about as a prospective coach for the Swans after Garry Monk was sacked (December 2015). It is a ‘what if’ moment to think what it may have led to if he had been appointed, especially as this was arguably the time when Swans started to lose their way in the Premier League, leading to eventual relegation in May 2018.

As we bid farewell to Jurgen Klopp's presence in football, I can't help but feel a sense of nostalgia. His achievements at Liverpool, impact on the club's culture, and reputation as a decent human being will be missed. He was a perfect fit for Liverpool and played a significant role in the club's resurgence. His departure leaves a void in the football league, a loss we all share.

The bottom half of the Premier League makes depressing reading. Last year’s promotion from the Championship of Burnley, Sheffield Utd, and Luton sees them come straight back down. The three teams will be expected to be highly competitive next season with the cushion of parachute money.

The yo-yo effect highlights the deepening chasm between the two leagues. Of course, clubs should aspire to the Premier League, but it is increasingly challenging to stay once they get there. This makes it fascinating for neutrals to see how Ipswich will get on next season.

Swans fans will not forget a run of results in late January and early February when we were hammered by Southampton (1-3), Bournemouth (5-0 FA Cup), Leicester (3-1), and Leeds (0-4). This was expected to be a tough run, but the performances were even more disappointing than the defeats. There was a lack of belief from the players, while the opposition cut through us at will.
By contrast, watching Coventry’s gutsy performance against Man Utd in the FA Cup semi-final was heartening. From 3-0 down, they battled to get on level terms and gave Utd the scare of their lives before losing on a penalty shootout. Historically, grit, intensity, and passion show that minnows can scare and turn big teams over. These are essential qualities that the Swans need to build in their collective mindset.

Rounding things off ? The FA Cup has lost the interest of many fans. The Champions League final promises to be a good show of top Spanish against top German football. The European Championship should be entertaining, with the new players coming to the fore and putting themselves in the shop window.

Hopefully, Luke Williams will be watching, too, to look at opportunities for Swans’ potential signings during the close season. After that, the transfer window, when speculation will increase, the excitement builds for the new season, and off we go again.

Jack Butty is available in black and white and colour.

The Indy are back with news stories on Swansea City and the national team.

Artwork by Swansea Independent

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