The Jacks Are Going Up! Whisper it Quietly….
Come May 2nd, Swansea City, a club in disarray a short while ago could well be within touching distance of the biggest, most remarkable achievement in their history.
Forget Toshack`s rollercoaster ride up and down through the divisions, that club model, in hindsight, was built on sand. This one is built to last. Just like its miserly defence, Swansea City FC is now made of stern stuff.
Rewind to June 2009, and so many Swans fans (myself included) were devastated at the loss of Roberto Martinez. Completely cut up. For me, having Roberto in charge was having a manager who is also a fan. Wanting the absolute best, striving for the best, working his hardest to be the best, and it seemed like it was all for us, the loyal supporters. When he left, well for many it seemed like things would never be the same again and happily they aren`t.
If both the appointments of Kenny Jackett and Roberto Martinez were shrewd, well I`m not sure what capturing Paulo Sousa is. Since his arrival, he has created a team in his own image. Anyone who has seen clips of him playing on YouTube (and I invite you to do so if you haven`t already), or watched him play live will tell you he was fearsome.
Unafraid of putting a foot in when the going was tough, particularly for such a slight man, and doing the ugly work, he also had a technique most footballers could only envy, and here in Swansea he has combined these qualities and instilled them into the 400-odd (sorry I`ve lost count) players in our squad.
Whatever he said in his interview with Huw Jenkins and the Board, I`m very glad he did. Although praise must go to the Chairman and the Board too, for both their excellent judgement and for the way they continue to keep our club not only afloat, but competing with clubs we have no right to compete with on and off the pitch.
3 defeats in 29 League games is an outstanding record. We might not be scoring goals, but no matter who comes in, or leaves the defence, Sousa and his defence have found a way to not only cope, but better the opposing forward line, and that`s no hyperbole. Injuries and suspensions have simply not affected the way in which Swansea defends.
Sousa was blessed with a hugely talented squad upon his arrival, even if half of them or more were injured at the time. But the improvement in the defence has been nothing short of incredible. The lack of goals is easy to explain. 40 of them walked out the door in the summer with our former manager, and without the funds to replace them fully, keeping clean sheets was the only way to ensure we match and improve on last year`s 8th place and 68 point performance.
Boy, have they racked them up. 20 in 35 is more than anyone could expect, and not only that, we`re winning games. We`ve had a few 0-0s, but by and large Swansea are now scoring at least once in every game and usually not conceding any. By hook or by crook we`re winning games. There`s not a single Swans fan who thinks we would have won last night`s game, last season.
One of my favourite things about the recent past is often reading reports on games (one bad thing about living in Paris is the lack of accessibility to Swans games) where we haven`t won. More often than not, Swansea have deserved to prevail on the balance of play, or have been on the end of a wrong decision, as was the case last Saturday.
Thing is, I don`t think everything evens itself out in the same way. I think you get what you deserve, and we as a club are on our way to getting it; Promotion.
Imagine the 'worst` happens, and Swansea miss out on promotion this season, in whichever fashion the Gods (or referees) see fit. Does anyone think we`d be relegated next season? If Sousa leaves, will it be worse than Martinez? Could we lose two more influential players than Scotland and Gomez?
I certainly don`t think so. We were better off learning what we did last Summer, before we put all our hopes and expectations on the performance of one man. Should Leon Britton or Darren Pratley leave would we miss them? Of course. If Sousa goes, would someone organise the defence as well? Probably not.
But now, today, who in the footballing world wouldn`t want to join Swansea? Many Jacks are stuck in the mindset that we`re not a very fashionable club, but in all reality, we`re big enough to attract a two-time Champions League winner who`s played for some of the biggest clubs in the World. What`s more, whenever he leaves us, I believe we`ll be an even more attractive proposition. Managers know they can come here and call the shots. Players know they can come and play football as it was meant o be played.
It`s simple, it`s effective, and it`s the Swansea City way these days.
Whatever happens, we have so much to be excited about in supporting this club. I think, if we shout our loudest, turn up in numbers and get behind our club in every little way we can, that by the end of the season I, you, well we`ll all be chanting…The Jacks are going up…!
Thanks to Dominic O'Shea for the article.