Swans Given Wake-Up Call Ahead of Bournemouth Trip
March was always going to be the key month for the Swans, and so far they`ve won 1 and lost 1 - I`m sure we`d all have preferred to have beaten Hull and lost to Burnley, and the recent defeat against the Tigers acts as a big wake-up call ahead of yet another crucial game against an improving AFC Bournemouth side.
After that, it`s Middlesbrough at home, another defeat this weekend would really pile the pressure on to get three points against Middlesbrough.
After a good run of results, particularly at home under Clement, results that won him Manager of the Month in February and got us out of the relegation zone, we`ve been knocked back down to earth with a bang, following the disappointing defeat at Hull City - who completed the double over us - also not forgetting their cup win too.
It wasn`t just the defeat, but the nature of it and the fact that we lost some key players to injury.
It was the first time that I felt that an opposition manager had out-done us tactically. Chelsea and Arsenal simply proved too good for us, but Marco Silva`s side were far from inspiring, yet they were successful in disrupting our play and reading our game plan pretty well. Their high press was quite effective on our back line, and we found it difficult to pass out from defence.
Having said that, it wasn`t a true and fair battle between the two new managers who have achieved fortunes at their new relegation-threatened clubs. Just before half time, we were already missing Angel Rangel and striker Fernando Llorente. Paul Clement then lacked true freedom to make tactical adjustments as needed, we were also limited with a lack of options off the bench.
With Kyle Naughton injured, centre back Jordi Amat had to fill in at right back, and from then, our back four never quite looked as settled as it has done.
At the other end of the pitch, without our talisman and targetman up top, we simply couldn`t adjust to suit Jordan Ayew - who I felt was not even operating in typical striker positions. He was often coming too short or wide, and this left big gaps further forward - leaving the Hull defence with little to worry about.
It proved that we need to find an alternative way of attacking and scoring goals when Llorente isn`t available. Getting the ball wide and delivering good crosses for the Spaniard is Plan A, and it simply won`t work in his absence.
Talking about scoring goals and creating chances, a lot was said after the game about Wayne Routledge`s two misses - the first one being around the half hour mark - and if it had gone in - it could have changed the whole outcome of the game.
He missed the second as well, both great chances at close range, and it brings up the debate yet again about why the winger is still starting games for us.
However, and I meant to write an article on this after the game, but blaming Routledge for the defeat is just ridiculous. I was glad to see that Paul Clement focused on the disappointment he felt about his side`s defending, rather than the two misses from Wayne.
The defending is far more of a concern that Routledge`s misses, which you have to admit, is nothing new at all.
But the defending, and the way it got pulled in all sorts of shapes for their two goals was a reminder of the Bob Bradley days when we were conceding 3 or 4 goals a game. We have to get back to being compact if we are going to stay out of the bottom three.
Against Bournemouth, Clement may have to look at giving an under-23s player his full debut, rather than putting Jordi Amat there again, who struggled out of position. With that in mind, will Clement risk it by starting the new recruit Luciano Narsingh, who is still clearly adjusting to what his wanted by him on the right side of a front trio. Or do we stick with Wayne Routledge?
I wouldn`t mind too much if the latter occurs, just as long as we look like a solid defensive outfit again.
Bournemouth offer a tough test on their own soil, they`ve got the potential to really test our backline and I just hope Llorente and Naughton are fit to give us a better chance of at least getting a point.
We`ve been on a bit of a high lately having experienced some home wins, but we can ever so quickly get sucked right back in if we`re not careful.