Swansea City - Watching From Afar
Living in Paris isn't all that bad, but when you're missing your beloved team's first season in the Championship in your lifetime, it does get annoying! However, when you consider how well we are doing, it's even more frustrating!
It seems to me, although there is no substitute for watching the games, that from radio commentary, and highlights and the views of the fans on message boards and guest books, that we are doing exceptionally well in this division, in terms of both results and performances by enlarge. You look back to August, and you can really see how we have developed as a side in the division.
If you take our first two games for example, 0-2 v Charlton and 3-1 v Notts Forest - I think it is safe to say that we are going to take a lot of points off teams who come to the Liberty Stadium and try to attack us (ie Forest from what I hear).
With regards our defeat, the general consensus has been that we lost the game due to a lack of experience at this level, plus an unfortunate red card. I can remember saying back then, that if we could obviously keep those victories against teams that come out against us, and turn the defeats against more experienced sides away, into draws (i.e. 0-2 v C.Palace also), then we could become a force in this division.
And so, onto end of August/September, which saw us draw 3 consecutive home games 1-1. In each of these games, reports suggest that the visiting team came for a draw, and were happy to put 10 men behind the ball. Just as in League One, it's clear we originally found these teams hard to break down and score against, and the 3 goals we netted in those games, were a) a 25 yard screamer, b) a header from a corner and c) a last minute tap in from a great move.
My point regarding this, is that these are all types of goals you can't heavily rely on, as in you can't expect Bodde to score from 30 yards each week, though he's not far from doing so. We can't rely on st pieces, as that as always been our Achilles heel and unlikely to change hugely considering the size (height-wise) of our squad.
As for the last minute effort, which was more of a trademark Swansea City goal, while it is the hallmark of Champions to grab points at the death, I'm sure even Alex ferguson would agree that it is not something you can rely on. In any case, following these games, I was of the opinion that to be a force in this division, we would have to turn at least some of these draws into victories.
Moving on to the back end of September and October. I think it was always likely given the tight nature of the division, that we will get defeats that hurt us, 0-4 v reading, but it is how we respond to that which determines how good we can be in this division. How did we respond? 2 victories - 2-0 away to Preston and a fabulous 3-1 defeat of Wolves.
I think we can pinpoint these 2 games as showing how we've developed. Preston away is a game we could well have drawn at the start of the season, but no, 3 points. And, as I said at the top, to be a force, we would have to continue to pick up 3 points at home against teams that attack and ouila...3 points.
The 0-0 v QPR was a somewhat disappointment considering the dominance we exerted, however from what i am led to believe, the performance was anything but, and I think we may have started to turn these draws into victories, as we showed by coming from behind to beat a limited Watford side 3-1.
The defeat to Wolves away apparently merited more, and so it begged the question whether we would continually struggle away at bigger, more experienced sides at this leveel, and I think we had the answer in the 3-2 win v Norwich away. I know Roberto martinez was delighted to gain a first victory in what he describes continually as a 'Premiership environment', and it shows us fans too, that we are developing as a side. Int he last 8 games, we are the 4th in form team, and the only team in the division to have lost just once in this period. I believe that if we continue to pick up the points we have, turn early season defeats into draws, and draws into victories where possible, we could well see our season extended by the play-offs this year......
My final thoughts are this...Do we want to get promoted this season? I had this discussion with my Dad recently. He thinks, and perhaps rightly so, that we should consolidate at this level before hopefully gaining the promotion we all crave. My argument against this was that so many times you see teams come close to moving up a division, only failing at the final hurdle.
That summer is usually filled with optimism, hoping the team can push on the next season, but so often that team loses key players, and ends up in mid-table or even in a relegation battle. The first example that springs to mind is Brentford after they lost to us in the playoffs 05/06 - they lost players like Jay Tabb and had a torrid season.
My point is that I feel like if there is a chance of promotion, then we should go for it as much as possible, as I'm sure we will. Next summer, if faced with another Championship season, I feel sure we maybe around £3million richer (with £3million going to ADO Den Haag), but one fabulous midfielder lighter.
Who's to say when a big club will finally come knocking for Roberto too, although I feel ceertain he is with us for the long haul. Anyway, what does everyone think, should we consolidate with/without Bodde, or go for it etc. Your thoughts?