Swansea

This was a bit like all the other games in the end. But there was enough here that we might be confident of a better tomorrow.

1 Derek Boateng came in for Steve Sidwell. He had a fine game and did exactly what we needed him to do. All those interventions around the D – had he not been there we could have been in big trouble.

There was a moment i  the first half when Kasami lost the ball on a counter. Swansea’s transition was slick, but Boateng was waiting for them. Fabulous. His selection gave us some hint that the new coaching setup is more interested in a team rather than a group of players.

When Boateng went off the game changed even more in Swansea’s favour and the winner came from the area he would have been guarding. Hopefully match fitness is not far off as we need him for 90.

2 Captain Parker. A no-brainer and good to see.

3 Hughes in for Senderos is a move I like but honestly they are very even players. Hughes put Swansea ahead with an own goal, which was just one of those things, but does illustrate how different players are judged to different standards. Had Senderos put into his own net..

4 Speaking of which, here are Opta’s dispossession stats: Parker 3, Kasami 3, Ruiz 3. I pointed this out on the FFC facebook page to predictable derision but again it shows how people see what they want to see in games.

Ruiz couldn’t get into the game in the second half and had a teicky spell in the first but fans have an incredible habit of focusing on the negative where he is concerned. Look, he had a bad day but not that bad.  And as we know, he is having treatment for a bad back. Cut him some slack? Nah.

5 Bent did well I thought. Yes he missed a couple of chances but he got in good areas and over a season he’ll put some of those away. There’s a 20 goal a season striker there, which is a goal every other game. If he gets chances like this every game he will deliver. I take his performance as a big plus.

19 thoughts on “Swansea

  1. I agree about Boateng, but…he does get booked too easily and he does fade around the hour mark. If he can become a player who doesn’t need substituting, then it’s as you say. Re. Parker, the no-brainer is indeed one.
    3. If you say so about the stats, but there’s the non-quantifiable issue of collective calm and liaison within the defence, which seemed somewhat improved today from a level that could hardly have sunk. I don’t know how much that was down to personnel and how much to coaching and deployment — e.g. Amorbietta had a different role today and the goalie looked less scared by the company he was in and more like he might have met them before.
    Will pass on 4. as my obviously faulty impression was that he lost it three times just in one sequence in the first half. 5. I agree on Bent. It’s a while since we could lament spurned chances, so to be able to do that represents progress of sorts. Like you, I thought were modest signs of coaching making a difference. Unfortunately the problem remains that many of the personnel would be replaced in an ideal world and it’s not easy to assemble a balanced team from the cast available. Roll on January.

  2. I agree. About Boateng, Ruiz, the different standards, I think you’re right about all of that.

    But, another loss at home to a team that over a long stretch has been nearly as bad as Fulham. Not good. Even a point would’ve been … well, something. Felt like another reminder that we’re in serious trouble.

    1. Rich . I admire your optimism and to be fair I do back you up as far as Ruiz is concerned because he us what he is and Jol knew what he was getting when he bought him . I just think he’s unsuitable for the Premier League . Boating defended well but lost the ball in key areas and insists in playing the ball with the outside of his foot which leaves him more vulnerable to being disposed and gives him less control of the ball . Kashmir tries hard but has no vision or sense of when to pass . Tarrabt is similar and with the trio of midfielders I have mentioned often running into corners it’s no wonder why we create so few attempts on goal . The tactics were clearly to play long balls upfield to Berbatov to flick on so he rarely got the ball at his feet or in front of him where he can exploit his qualities. . We have lost 14 out if our last 20 league matches and that is more than sufficient for the axe to fall on our manager . Enough is enough .

  3. For better or worse the decision has been taken to bolster the coaching staff rather than sack Jol. That can’t be a quick fix and the best we can hope for are incremental improvements.

    I think we’re essentially where we were when Sanchez was sacked and it took Hodgson three months to turn things round but it was clear from the start that things were being done differently. Yesterday I thought we started well with good intensity but that dropped off halfway though the first half – that needs to be maintained and may be down to fitness. Or chances need to be taken.

    My problem with Ruiz is that I’m not seeing enough of a positive contribution. He tries and loses the ball because he’s loath to waste it but where are the match winning contributions? Same with Berbatov. Luxury players are great IF they produce the goods. Ours aren’t currently and that has to be addressed.

    The key next step in Khan’s ownership is going to be whether serious attempts are made to bring in quality players to balance the squad. In January that will mean paying a premium price.

    Or we go down, lose the expensive deadwood and see if the young players coming through, properly coached, can produce the goods. That’s not such a bad prospect.

    .

    1. Another January possibility is that Zaha arrives on loan. If not too rusty and dispirited he’d be at least one part of what we need — the type of part you’d not expect to be able to buy. But there’s so much else. To assemble a team that gives the coach a decent chance, you really wouldn’t start with anything resembling the mixture at our new chap’s disposal. Unfortunately, to attract new blood we do require, not just funds, but to show signs of life between now and the window and not to get cut adrift.

      1. I think the rules limit us to two domestic loans, To get Zaha we’d have to be able to send Bent or Tarrabt home which is probably not possible.

        We need a midfield that protects the defence and keeps the ball. Swansea were all over us in midfield and that’s the key thing that needs to be addressed. Coaching may do it. Logically Boateng, Parker, Sidwell, Kasami and Karagounis can all do this. More of them need to play instead of the luxury players. If we’re to play wingers they have to be workers which Dejagah is and Kakaniklic isn’t.

  4. – Another game with possession less than 40%, AT HOME.
    – We are not grafting out our draws, but losing to the teams around us, which costs us double.

  5. I watched the game online and I have to say… they looked better. Sometimes your eyes lie but sometimes stats do too. We gave up over 60% possession, but when Fulham had the ball the movement up the pitch was quick and had Bent’s efforts gone in we’d all be singing a different tune. When given the chance to have more men in the box we still look lost, but I’m taking heart from this defeat. At least for the first half the squad looked organized and hungry for a result.

    1. I was there and I aagree we looked much better. To be honest, I couldn’t belive the stats when I read them. True Swansea pulled a few good saves from Stek, but Bent ran his socks off and had three clear chances. He was so much more involved than in the past, and any of his three chances could have gone in and we would indeed have been singing a different tune. I thought Berba played with real heart tracking back agressively on more than one occassion.

      Despite the saves (and the possession), I think we had the better clear cut chances. One OG, one wonder goal, and the points were gone.

      I too, Rich, take some positives from the game, but nonetheless not good to come away with nothing and to allow (again) so many shots.

  6. The first half was improved but sadly the second half lapsed back into the same old story. I agree with all your positive sentiments Rich & they were the reasons for some optimism I guess. And I very much agree on Senderos -v- Hughes….they feel relatively interchangeable for me, the key question is providing either of them with some defensive cover which certainly Boateng provided. Ruiz would very much benefit from a role in behind Darren Bent as the sole striker in my opinion.

    I am ever more losing faith with Jol though, and finding his decision making rather vexing to say the least. We were essentially a 4-3-3 on Saturday…..and for a team struggling, it seemed luxurious at best. I thought Bent was fine, worked hard, got in positions and on any other given Saturday he puts us at least one goal ahead. There’s plenty more to come from him this season. What I did see though was in the 2nd half, Bent struggled at times to make his movement count because Berbatov was so inert and literally getting in the way – certainly the poorest home performance I can remember from Berba.

    And the result? He stays on the pitch to the end of the game – surely a team must thrive on a degree of democracy at its core, yet Jol appears to refuse to take this player off despite ineffective performances and give someone else the remaining 25 mins of a game to make a mark. It means his tactical options are severely hampered & I can only imagine how much this weakens squad morale & belief in Jol as the leader.

    Yes managers have favoured players, but if there was a word right now to sum up Jol’s coaching it’s ‘hope’. It appears he ‘hopes’ the 4-3-3 will garner the games first goal for us (it doesn’t – I think we’ve gone behind in 10 of the last 12 games?), and he ‘hopes’ Dmitar is going to do something special (it’s been a while now) and he ‘hopes’ that lumping the ball forward will result in a goal. It rarely does.

    1. Worth noting that Jol employed a 4-3-3 in last season’s finale at Swansea, which we won 3-0. The gameplan worked quite well then: concede possession, especially in the wide areas, and catch them on the counter.

      1. This is a very fair point! In relation to your point below, I agree that the past two seasons Swansea have been a fine side, but I’m not convinced they’re at the top of their game at present & thus it felt like a real opportunity for 3 points on Saturday. There does appear a little correlation with the smaller squads that the Europa League is pretty demanding – we’ve struggled for league points when competing, and so have Newcastle and perhaps Swansea to some degree. It’ll be interesting to see their season unfold, as to whether they have ‘peaked’ in previous seasons, or are merely just feeling the effects of an elongated season.

  7. I now view Swansea in the same tier as the likes of Everton and Spurs (well, before their past few seasons) in that we conceive them as equals/clubs we *should* be beating, but in reality they’re a much, much better team than Fulham.

    Since they were promoted, scorelines against Swansea have been: 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 0-3, and 2-1. Not that I want to discredit our seemingly fluky 3-0 away win in Swansea in last season’s finale (though one could easily argue the Swans were already on the beach//many Fulham players were playing for their contracts considering their awful close to the season), but I don’t recall any of those matches being remotely closer than Saturdays. A quick scan says every match’s possession was 60/40 in favor of Swansea.

    1. I don’t know about much better … Swansea aren’t having the best season, Europa is stretching them, and they were missing their star player. This was an opportunity to take 3 points. Or at least one. At the end of the season I fear it’s these games that could come back to haunt us–home games against the bottom half of the table where we failed to take any points.

  8. I typed a comment to this at my home PC this morning and then forgot to post it, so here’s the short version: the scapegoating of non-Brits (Jol, Berbatov, Ruiz, Senderos) contrasted with stubborn unwillingness to see the failings of Brits (Bent, Sidwell, Hughes, Richardson) is ridiculous. We would’ve won that game if Bent was half the striker we’re constantly assured he still is, and Tony Gale (pretty sure that’s who it was doing analysis) clamoring for Sidwell in the lineup with Parker because you need hard-working defensive players behind Ruiz and Berbatov displayed a shocking ignorance of what Boateng brings to a match.

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