Welcome ladies and gents to another Fan Focus, and this week to help preview the clash with Swansea City we had the pleasure of speaking with Jim White, the editor of leading Swansea City fan-site www.scfc.co.uk.
Jim's a lifelong Swan, with his addiction kicking off in 1981, strangely enough that was the last time they were in the top flight. Even more coincidentally his favourite Swansea player since the early 80's is none other than former SAFC man, John Cornforth! Jim said of Cornforth "I loved his commitment and passion" although nowadays he has more of a respect for Nathan Dyer - A top player, and a lovely lad Jim tells us.
So, now to find out what's happening in South Wales, over to you Jim!...
Swansea in the Premier League... how does it feel to be here then, and how are you finding life so far?
Jim: It’s a bit surreal really. I have been so used to travelling to Boston on a Tuesday night and watching lower league football in the rain so therefore heading up to enjoy the fancy surroundings at Man City is difficult to take in. However, when I consider that we nearly went out of the league 10 years ago then its amazing to feel that were now playing in the big league. Its fair to say that not many teams will go to the Etihad and get something this year and so whilst it looks like a bad start, its no worse than many teams will do. We got our first point at the weekend against Wigan and so were off the mark!
Swansea have had a bit of a revamp over the last few years and gained a reputation as an attacking and vibrant team. What was the pivotal moment in this change?
Jim: We have, you're right. We have been nicknamed Swansealona because of the way in which we pass the ball for fun although that tag is not something that many Swans fans talk about! We do like to play an attractive passing game based on a 4-3-3 formation with 2 wingers supporting a central striker. Many people will point at our appointment of Roberto Martinez as the key factor in our style of football. Whilst there is no doubt that Roberto changed the way in which we play football, a lot of credit needs to go to Huw Jenkins and the Swansea board for setting a clear agenda on how they wanted our club to play football. When they took over the club, they outlined a way in which the club would be run off the field and they decided on a style of play. Roberto took that style onwards, Paulo Sousa added defensive strength and now Brendan Rogers has taken the style of exciting football onto another level.
Is there any danger that Swansea could fall foul of that? It’s all well and good going all out against some of the teams in the lower half of the league, but could a lack of ‘cuteness’ at times be a problem ala Blackpool?
Jim: It could be yes but we won’t change. The players will continue to play the style of football that brought us success and if that means we end up going down then so be it. We are not the biggest and most physical of teams and so our route to success will be to out pass teams. If we try and get into a physical, long ball style of game, we will lose as we don’t have the players to play that way and when we have tried it were not very good at it! We will need to become ‘Premier League Savvy’ for sure but I think that will be about set pieces and tempo of our game rather than changing the DNA on which our recent success has been based.
Are you happy with Brendan Rogers work so far, and his transfer dealings?
Jim: Is the pope catholic? Does a bear sh*t in the woods? Does a pig like lying in the mud? Need any more sayings? The guy is a gem. We are very lucky to have him and to achieve promotion to the Premier League in his first season was incredible. The guy has an apathy for the region, understands us as fans and provides an exciting team to watch. He has been able to attract players like Scott Sinclair to the club because of his man management and coaching methods and has done all this whilst working within the budget plans of the club. So yes and yes!
What will represent a success this season for Swansea? If it’s simply survival as most newly promoted teams want, how confident are you that you’ll achieve it?
Jim: Success is 17th place no doubt. We would all like to be higher up but if were still in the Premier League come next May then it will have been a remarkable achievement. When the season started, I felt we would stay up for sure. I think that we need to get off the mark soon (preferably with 3 points against you boys!) but if we can start to pick up some points in the first 2 months then I think we will be ok. However, it’s a long season and its going to take a lot of effort, commitment, skill and belief to stay up but I think we can do it!
So come Saturday, who do you think will be the one from Swansea to give us the most problems?
Jim: Nathan Dyer is the one to look out for I think. He was excellent last Saturday against Wigan and I think he will cause problems for all defences this year due to his trickery and pace. I hope that the other 10 will have good games as well but Nathan is the one to watch I would say
And of course what weaknesses do you think we have the potential to exploit?
Jim: Not saying... I think that we do sometimes have a tendency to pass the ball at the back and through midfield but
sometimes (and I say sometimes) can lack the cutting edge in the final 3rd. When we are on our game, our full backs tend to bomb forward and so maybe a route in will be down the flanks. We know it will be a tough game though and with the squad you have, we will be concerned for sure about the players you have and the damage they could cause.
And lastly concerning Saturday, what sort of game are you expecting, and what do you think the result will be?
Jim: I hope that it will be a good open game but I somehow don’t think it will be. Both sides need the 3 points and so I think it will be a tense, scrappy affair with both sides trying to play good football but the tension of the match getting in the way of a classic football match. I have to say that I have not watched Sunderland that much recently and so am not sure on what we can expect from you guys but any team that achieves 10th position in the Premier League has to be a great side that we give the upmost respect to.
My heart says we will snatch it 1-0 or 2-1 but my head says it will be a 1-1 draw