Swansea City - 'Quote - Unquote'
Well Swansea City are the talk of the town. Not content with ripping up trees in the second tier of the league, they've set about the Premiership now. Having already dumped Hull City and Portsmouth out of cup competitions this season, it was Fulham's turn to be out-played and out-thought at the weekend. And boy were they.
The national journalists were fallng over themselves with compliments for the Championship side, the following quotes a mere taste of what followed a thoroughly excellent performance.
The Telegraph (15/02) - 'It was the most enjoyable display I have seen from a team outside the Premier League in years. Roberto Martinez`s side were impressive enough in the first half.....and dazzling at times afterwards.'
The Times (16/02) - 'Neutral observers in Seville on Wednesday evening marvelled at the comfort in possession of Spain`s players as the European champions eased aside England. In South Wales on Saturday, the English invaders from Fulham — players and fans alike — might have experienced a sharp sense of déjà vu with Swansea City displaying a similar exhibition of free-flowing football.'
The Observer (16/02) - 'The last time these two sides met in this competition 14 years ago Fulham, then in Division Four, scored seven goals without reply from a third-tier City side. Here Swansea created so many chances that the scoreline could have been the other way round, a combination of Mark Schwarzer, the woodwork and sheer bad luck denying them a deserved place in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1964, back when they were known as Swansea Town.'
High praise indeed, but it hasn't always been the case from opposition managers. It seems Swansea are rather fortunate this season, as every team they've played against, has had an off-day. Confused? Take a look at these post-match comments from oppostion managers.
-Roy Hodgson (Fulham) - "I thought it was a jaded performance from us and a good performance from them.'
-Glenn Roeder (Norwich City) - ''I give them some credit because they capitalised on our mistakes and they did that well. I like the way they play. I said to their manager afterwards: 'Keep on passing the ball because it's attractive.'
-Simon Grayson (Blackpool) - 'We lacked that a little bit and gave it back too easily, which you can't afford to do.
-Owen Coyle (Burnley) - ''We didn't start well enough and we're not going hide behind the penalty incident. We didn't have our usual urgency and tempo early on. I thought we'd got through that, but just when we were starting to look lively, they got in front.''
-Tony Adams (Portsmouth) - "We were caught by surprise. They were all prepared and I showed them what a good team Swansea were but they were still caught on the hop.'
Hardly over-generous these managers, in stark contrast to the ever-cynical national scribes, though it is hardly surprising. Each of the managers above had just seen their side out-played by a Swansea side intent on playing the beautiful game. And if there's anything more galling than seeing someone younger do your job better than you, then I wouldn't introduce it to any of the above men.
It may pain them to say it, but even they would have to admit to themselves, Swansea City are going places.
Dominic O'Shea has his own website at www.osheasport.co.uk where he writes on a variety of different sports.