Swans go round again - Interview
Monday, 19th Apr 2021 19:49 by Clive Whittingham
Steven Carroll from the SOS fanzine and Phil Sumbler from Planet Swans reflect on a Swansea season destined to end in another play-off tilt, but without the form to give much confidence it’ll go any better than last year's.
How would you assess Swansea's season so far?
SC: It’s been good on the whole, we weren’t expecting promotion so to be up there at this stage of the season, more or less guaranteed a play-off spot and with an outside chance of top 2 would have to be seen as overachieving.
PS: One that keeps promising so much but ultimately seems to let us down just as we start to believe again. Ultimately we are third in the table so we shouldn’t complain too much but we have never – other than maybe a short period around Christmas – looked anything like the quality of Norwich or Watford.
Swansea league results so far…
Little wobble recently, what caused that and is it over now with the two wins this week?
SC: The wobble had been coming to be honest, we don’t create enough chances. Our success has been built on clean sheets, our levels have dropped recently so it’s no shock that we’ve struggled to win games. I didn’t watch our game on Saturday as I was at a wedding, but those I’ve spoken to weren’t impressed. And drawing at home to the bottom side who are all but down is a poor result to say the least.
PS: We seemed to run out of steam, confidence and ideas all at the same time. The formation that served us so well for 12 months let us down and we seemed to not have a plan B to rely on at any time. The two away wins I thought had seen us turn the corner but Saturday against Wycombe was another step backwards.
General consensus on how Steve Cooper's done for you guys?
SC: Cooper has done well with limited resources, and as I said we are definitely overachieving. Although I must admit we are not easy on the eye and it’s debatable how sustainable this is long term. We’ve been the masters of scoring from our first proper chance and it against the run of play (the game at a Loftus Road being a good example) and in general once we go in front we usually see if out.
PS: Talk about splitting opinion amongst a fanbase. Some will say that he is doing a fantastic job with no backing from the owners whilst others think he is the devil reincarnated. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, he seems incredibly reluctant to change things when they aren’t working and certainly has some players in his team he will not rest even though they blatantly need it. Two play-off campaigns in two years says a reasonable picture about his time here but we aren’t good on the eye.
I've seen some criticism of the January transfer business, lost Gibbs-White obviously and didn't strengthen enough when in contention for the autos, is that justified?
SC: We did strengthen but with hindsight our business probably wasn’t the best. Conor Hourihane has done well in patches but doesn’t dominate games, he’s a player who has his moments rather than anything else. The other five signings haven’t really played. It’s debatable who sanctioned them, especially the American players I would say. Losing Gibbs-White was a big blow, he only played six times for us due to injury but I think his creativity would’ve made a huge difference.
PS: The thing was we did strengthen. We made several signings (Morris, Arriola, Whittaker and Hourihane as well as a very odd signing from Swindon in Freeman). Problem was Morris went back injured as did Arriola, Hourihane just hasn’t done what we all hoped and Whittaker impresses but doesn’t get the game time. In January most Swans fans would have called this a good window, in April it looks anything but.
Summer Ins >>> Jamal Lowe, 26, RW, Wigan, £800k >>> Ryan Manning, 24, LB, QPR, £150k >>> Ryan Bennett, 30, CB, Wolves, Undisclosed >>> Joel Latibeaudiere, 20, CB, Man City, Undisclosed >>> Korey Smith, 29, DM, Bristol City, Free >>> Freddie Woodman, 23, GK, Newcastle, Loan >>> Morgan Gibbs-White 20, AM, Wolves, Loan >>> Marc Guehi, 20, CB, Chelsea, Loan >>> Viktor Gyokeres, 22, CF, Brighton, Loan >>> Kasey Palmer, 23, AM, Bristol City, Loan
Summer Outs >>> Joe Rodon, 22, CB, Spurs, £10.8m >>> Bersant Celina, 24, AM, Dijon, £2.7m >>> Kristoffer Peterson, 25, LW, Dusseldorf, £400k >>> Erwin Mulder, 31, GK, Heerenveen, Free >>> Courtney Baker-Richardson, 24, CF, Barrow, Free >>> Jefferson Montero, 30, RW, Released >>> Nathan Dyer, 31, LW, Released >>> Mike van der Hoorn, 27, CB, Bielefeld (Germany), Free >>> Joel Asoro, 21, CF, Genoa, Loan >>> Josh Gould, 23, GK, Barry Town, Loan >>> Barrie McKay, 25, LW, Fleetwood, Loan >>> Brandon Cooper, 21, CB, Newport, Loan
Winter Ins >>> Morgan Whittaker, 20, CF, Derby, £700k >>> Ben Hamer, 33, GK, Huddersfield, Undisclosed >>> Kieron Freeman, 29, RB, Swindon, Undsiclosed >>> Conor Hourihane, 29, CM, Villa, Loan >>> Jordan Morris, 26, AM, Seattle, Loan >>> Paul Arriola, 26, CM, DC United, Loan
Winter Outs >>> Joel Asoro, 21, CF, Djurgarden (Sweden), £630k >>> Declan John 25, LB, Bolton, Loan >>> George Byers, 25, CM, Portsmouth, Loan >>> Jordan Garrick, 22, RW, Swindon, Loan
Player of the season candidates?
SC: The two for me are Marc Guehi and Connor Roberts. The former has grown from a boy into a man firing his time here, he’s going to be a top player for someone. Roberts meanwhile is everywhere, no one covers as much ground as him.
PS: Connor Roberts. There isn’t a doubt.
Weak links in the side?
SC: Freddie Woodman our keeper has become a bit weak, he’s cost us a few goals recently, he was at fault or the second goal on Saturday. I would’ve said Jamal Lowe but now he’s broken his goal duck he’s hopefully a new man.
PS: Conor Hourihane is not so much a weak link but can be a passenger despite his goals and assists but for me the weak link is a midfield that looks static and slow at the best of times.
Thoughts on Ryan Manning's first year with you?
SC: Manning has been a bit unlucky, he offers more than Jake Bidwell in my view but because he started the season well it’s taken him a while to get into the side. Long term I think he’ll be first choice.
PS: My mother always taught me if I couldn’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all.
Do you think you'll see promotion through?
SC: I don’t think we will, don’t see us scoring enough goals and now our defence doesn’t keep as many clean sheets as it was so I’m expecting us to fall short.
The Twitter @loftforwords, @StevenSOS1987, @swansnews
Pictures – Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
Here we are, at the penultimate game of the season, and our last game in front of the cardboard U’s faithful at the JobServe. It has been a long, difficult, and definitely strange season, which frankly I’ll be glad to see the back of. That’ll we’ll be here again in August is definitely going to be something to celebrate, but I suspect we’re facing a summer of significant rebuilding both on the pitch, and possibly off it too. I won’t be the only one, but the biggest oddity for me has been being able to watch every single game – not always easy viewing, but something I’ve never done before, and probably never will again. But it doesn’t really make up for not being there in person, the long train journey away-days, meeting fellow U’s and other supporters, and of course sharing a beer or three. Fingers-crossed we can return to the terraces in 2021/22.
Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
That was quite a week for us all then. In the space of four short but remarkably tense days we have gone from having to take shoes and socks off to check how many more points we need to guarantee survival, or whether we would even achieve it, to breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we’re almost there. But close of play this afternoon, whether by our own actions or the failure of others, I am sure survival will be confirmed. Of course, Tuesday night not only all but guaranteed it, it also virtually condemned local rivals Southend United to non-league football for the foreseeable. Looking at the host of fully professional former football league sides currently battling it out for the two promotion slots out of the National league (including Hartlepool, Torquay, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield and Notts County), it is not going to be a walk in the park for Southend to return any day soon.
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
Letters from Wiltshire #43 by wessex_exile
Well, that has been a lively week for Colchester United in the press, and not least for Robbie Cowling, with not one, or two, but kind of three club announcements in rapid succession to try and put the record straight. First, we had Tribunalgate, which certainly looked very poor according to the initial press reports, but which on closer inspection when some of the ‘fact gaps’ were filled in wasn’t anywhere near the story that some would have us believe. Then of course we had the ‘leak’ that the U’s were about to go into administration, despite all the reassurances we’d been given in previous statements from Robbie. Not so said Robbie again, and particularly angry at what he believed to be the source of the story. Hence statement #3, repeating his assurances, but this time after passing through the lawyer filter to remove his thoughts on the source. To paraphrase Robbie’s conclusion to that statement, let’s hope we can all have a day off from this sort of media shenanigans and enjoy our game at Oldham tonight!
Queens Park Rangers Polls