Reviewing The Swans From Afar
Having been a Jack for 20 years, growing up during the successful years of Frank Burrows, the dire straits of 5 managers in 5 minutes, the Tony Petty fiasco to Kenny Jackett, I was presented with a whole new prospect this year - a Swan-less season.
Hailing from neath never stopped my following of the Swans, and going to Swansea University only helped me get to more away games, but this year I spent the year supporting from afar, from the South of France as I helped teach english as an Assistant near a town called Pau (ironically twinned with Swansea - It was as close as I could get!)
The good news until the day arrived was that I could get to the opening few games, before I departed early September - and here goes the rollercoaster of emotions (as always), as we trundled (excuse the pun) through the season. August/September
Still in Swansea but wish I wasnt for opening game v Cheltenham. Tom butler looks ok, but awful, awful football, simply hoof-ball and a stark contrast to the opening game v Tranmere the previous season. Defeat at Oldham and a draw with Scunthorpe not great, and only 2 late goals from Trundle meant we didn't start with 4 winless games.
I got to see the draw with Yeovil, which was another poor home performance, before I jetted off for the best part of 8 months to teach English. My dad sent me news of another great wins against Brentford and crewe, only for these to unfortunatley sandwich defeats at the hands of Gillingham and Huddersfield. Another poor month, promotion a long way off. By now, I'd worked out how to listen to games online, and spent Saturday afternoons in my Lycee's IT room huddled down to the PC motherboard, because my earphones wouldnt stretch far enough,a nd at this point, it seemed like a pointless exericse! October
Form picked up a bit, and it was interesting to read contrasting opinions on kenny Jackett and the 06/07 side as they took shape. Performances varied from game to game, and it was this ultimately that cost us a play-off place and promotion. I would be bouyed reading the reports of the games v Chesterfield and Millwall, only to be dismayed and disappointed in equal proportion at the games against Tranmere and Northampton. November
The first undefeated month of the season, and just as a bleak winter with layer upon layer of snow (for me), it seemed like the Swans were picking up, and my Dad among posters on websites reported of steely performances, albeit against the likes of newport in the FA Cup. December/January
The real test often comes around Christmas. It was now that Scunthorpe embarked upon their run to the title, and we spluttered, coming a cropper from 2-0 up away to Huddersfield. I came back from France at the end of December, and got to witness the poor Home draw against Rotherham, but listened delighted to the great win against Crewe. 2-0 up wth 20minutes to go, and I was in a fine Christmas mood, ready to see the New Year in, safe in the knowledge the Swans were picking up. 26 minutes later, having seen the Swans concede 3 and lose a man and I felt like Scrooge on a bad day.
My last outing before I returned to the land of Zidane was the FA Cup win at Sheffield United. I sat in the Home end with a Uni friend of mine and his family. They were in buoyant mood having seen off Arsenal the previous week, and I took to my seat with slight trepidation, as we were denied the services of many first team players. A 3-0 win later and I was a happy man, and I was no longer a welcomed guest in my mates home! February
Bye Bye Mr. Jackett. it had been coming. With all the money spent, and the complete lack of consistency or return on that money meant that jackett had to go. I was a fan up until this season, willing him to prove doubters wrong, but there was no way bak. Even from France, I expected it after the Cheltenham game, but instead we got it after the Oldham debacle.
Kev Nugent did a farcical job for 3 games by the sounds of it before Roberto returned to a ship sinking faster than the Titanic. I read the 'papertalk' section of scfc.co.uk everyday, as the quotes from Huw 'Press friendly' Jenkins rolled out. And then I was worried - Martinez appointed. Roberto, as much as i loved him as a player, had no managerial experience, and arrived alone with mumblings towards an appointment.
Worse was to come however, when I read a quote from Huw Jenkins stating 'Roberto's father was a manager', as if this meant it was destiny for young Roberto to be a success. Alarm bells rang, I had desperately wanted to see Dean Saunders, my first 'favourite player' be number one, but wished Roberto all the best, he had my support. March-May
Fairplay Roberto, you almost pulled off the impossible, in fact you were unlucky not to do so. Somehow, he took a squad that had not won in 5, to 24 point haul from his 12 games in charge. Bravo. This haul would surely ahve been higherhad it not been for our situation against blackpool, where we had to go for broke. I was back in time for that game, and was impressed by Blackpool, as good a side as I have seen at the Liberty Stadium, and good luck to them in the playoffs.
Roberto seems an astute and insightful manager, and his press dealings since his appointment have been exemplary. Long may this continue. the football he has encouraged us to play has been incisive, and not too pretty, which was also a concern of mine, that we might be too continental. I am so glad that thus far he has proved my fears wrong. The acid test will surely come in the summer when he brings his own players in, and has to mould his own squad. However, contrary to what i thought at the time, I think the board have appointed the right man for the wrong reasons.
Good luck Roberto and the Swans - At least I'm here for 07/08!!