Ipswich Just Lost 4–0 at Preston, What Could Possibly Go Wrong on Monday? - Notes for Swansea City
Sunday, 21st Apr 2019 10:03 by HarryFromBath
HarryFromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Easter Monday’s game at Portman Road by delving into their forums.
“At least the fading dream is over. Concentrate on developing the team for next year now”, “We have demonstrated inconsistency at its finest, veering from one extreme to the other”, “We played like demons against Manchester City in the FA Cup and then like a bunch of idiots against QPR.”
Swansea arrive at Portman Road sitting 11th in the table and eight points from the top six with four games to go. Results have been very unpredictable, with Friday’s 4-3 win over Rotherham preceded by a 4-0 defeat at Loftus Road and two decent 3-1 home victories over Stoke and Middlesbrough.
“We are where we are due to results like the one at QPR. A mid-table finish with a new team is good after the squad went through a huge upheaval last summer. Let's see what happens in this summer’s transfer window and see what commitment the owners are prepared to show to the manager.”
“I definitely think we will improve, even with no strengthening.” With parachute payments dropping, fans expect another overhaul this summer. “If we replace the high earners leaving with determined youngsters but still keep the core of the team together, we will be in with a big shout next season.”
“Graham Potter is taking us back to where we were with an inexpensive but technically good squad playing good football”, “As frustrating as it can be watching us this season, the one constant theme Potter has hammered about on all season is that we're at the beginning of a rebuilding process.”
Many Swans mistrust the club’s owners, but they have faith in the 43-year-old who left Swedish side Östersund to take charge at the Liberty Stadium last June.
They can see the rekindling of the project that propelled the club into the Premier League in 2011 playing with a philosophy of stylish football.
“In Potter we trust, but it’s a shame we don’t have a board to back him”, “He’s a good manager who is at a basket case of a club. I wouldn't be surprised if he isn't here next season”, “There are massive areas for improvement in the squad and the way we do our business but that goes without saying.”
“With all the off the field issues, staying up this year is a good result. Potter has done very well in the circumstances. On our way up we have passed and passed the ball. Some games we have dominated and didn’t get a result, but the football was good and we learned how to win in the Championship.”
“He has already started getting a young team back playing the ‘Swanselona’ way. With just a couple of shrewd acquisitions during the January transfer window, we could have even had a play-off place in our grasp”, “We have some real prospects but they will make mistakes so we will need patience.”
A Series of Unfortunate Set Pieces
“I love watching the short passes out of defence. It's lovely to see, but I dislike the lateral and back-passing out of laziness. I enjoy the fast build-up play that gets us goals but hate the extra touches we take in the penalty area when in on goal, instead of hitting it before defenders have time to block.”
“The squad is still four players short of a genuine promotion push in my opinion. We need a keeper, left-cack, central midfielder and a striker. I am desperate for us to sign a player in central midfield who has a bit of physicality and a striker or finisher who will be able to compete with Oli McBurnie.”
Potter has returned to a version of the passing football brought the Swans so much success in recent years. Fans love the fluidity of their play and their clever movement in the final third but most would welcome more quality in both penalty areas, while the lack pf physicality in the side is a huge worry.
“We are no good against aerially dominant teams and concede from set pieces.” The poor defending of set pieces came to a head after a calamitous first 15 minutes at QPR last Saturday. “Our keeper is a joke and so is our defence. Teams have worked us out and Potter seems to have found no answer.”
“We constantly fail to even compete for first and second balls in the box and players seem either indifferent or are lacking responsibility to deal with these situations. The is simply no point in having 70 per cent of the ball only to be constantly mugged by long throw-ins and corners all of the time.”
“If Potter won’t take the blame for our appalling set-piece defending then he should sack whoever he has delegated that area of coaching to, because quite frankly it's unacceptable and it has gone on for almost an entire season now with no signs of any improvement. If anything, it is getting worse.”
NordfeldtRobertsVan Der HoornCarter-VickersNaughtonFultonGrimesMcKayRoutledgeJamesMcBurnie
The starting XI (above) for Saturday’s eventful win over Rotherham was set out with the back four and midfield three which Potter has preferred this season. Matt Grimes plays a sitting role in front of the back line while Wayne Routledge has played as second striker interchanging with McBurnie.
Keeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt is comfortable with the ball at his feet but has really struggled with balls played in from out wide. Mike Van Der Hoorn is a solid defensive centre-half while partner Cameron Carter-Vickers is seen as too safe with his passing in contrast with the more adventurous Joe Rodon.
“Carter-Vickers is a very accomplished safe passer of the ball, while Rodon is a more ambitious and creative option for unlocking teams”, “These days we pass around the back because nobody has the ability to step forward, or show the quality to beat the person pressing them and move forward.”
Connor Roberts has established himself as a good attacking right-back, with Kyle Naughton playing a less adventurous role on the left of a settled defence. Declan John may be introduced on Monday as a more attacking option the left as Naughton has struggled when playing games in close succession.
“Matt Grimes and George Byers provided a good base to play off and give us good possession and control. I like the way they sit in front of back four and split when the full backs go forward.” Grimes is the more defensive of the two central midfielders, with Byers seen as more of a work-in-progress.
Left winger Daniel James caught the eye with his pace earlier in the season, but he has since shown the ability to move cleverly and finish lethally. With Joel Asoro and Barrie McKay failing to match his level of ability on the right flank, Potter has turned to veterans Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer.
“It is obvious we can play with three forwards all interchanging and pulling defences all over the place.” Bersant Celina’s clever movement and technique suit Potter’s playing style, and he is seen as more effective and less of a risk playing in a central role and switching wide to cover for James.
“I’m glad to see we're on the attack, but a little more efficiency would be nice”, “Against Stoke we took 30 shots to score three goals, they scored one with two shots”, “The goalscoring side of our game needs more attention. Goals wins games and this will be the only thing that brings success.”
“We need a mature proven striker to share the load with Oli.” McBurnie’s goals have been vital in ensuring the Swans’ mid-table finish but he’s not seen as a line-leader who scores with his head. He is more threatening with his feet and will often interchange positionally with Routledge and Dyer.
Swansea 4 – 3 Rotherham
“What an odd game”, “I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the second half. It was very entertaining”, “There was nothing really on the game, but I must say that seeing us get mugged in exactly the same way with our defending in every game is just annoying me”, “And breathe, it was never a dull game.”
Rotherham took the lead on 10 minutes from Michael Ihiekwe. McBurnie levelled on 36 before Matt Crooks struck two minutes later to restore the Millers’ lead. The hosts came back strongly after the interval and Barrie McKay equalised again on 50 before the game’s big moment of controversy.
Referee Keith Stroud judged Byers’s shot on 69 to be legitimate although the Millers strongly protested that Naughton had touched the shot with his hand. McBurnie scored again on 79 only for Will Vaulks’s strike to finally make it 4-3 four minutes later. “I'm not sure if I enjoyed that or not.”
“It was hardly impressive, especially when you concede three. We huffed and puffed to just about grind out a win”, “It had me off my seat. I thought Rotherham deserved something from the game, but we played some delightful football in that second half. We were hanging on by the end though.”
QPR 4 – 0 Swansea
“What a brutal end to the play-off optimism”, “If you aren’t actually watching this, do not watch the highlights. It’s a comedy act on how not to defend or play. Where we were good against Stoke, this is at the total extreme other end of incompetence”, “I didn't know there was a beach in West London.”
Darnell Furlong headed the hosts in front from a corner on three minutes and Tomer Hemed added a second just two minutes later before scoring his second to make it 3-0 after just 15 minutes. The West Londoners added a fourth Massimo Luongo scored on 54 to kill off any hope of a comeback.
“On a bitterly cold day in the shade of the stand, it was torture watching our side capitulate to QPR’s high press and robust play. They ran riot and it could have been a cricket score in the end. It was so one-sided and Potter just had no answer to it”, “They thought they only had to turn up to win this.”
NordfeldtRobertsVan Der HoornCarter-VickersNaughtonByersGrimesDyerRoutledgeJamesMcBurnie
The starting line-up (above) was the same one that had previously beaten Stoke but this display was as night from day in comparison. “There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance, and they obviously were believing all of the hype. We looked lethargic and disinterested from the start.”
NordfeldtRobertsVan Der HoornRodonCarter-VickersFultonGrimesRoutledgeCelinaJamesMcBurnie
An injury to Naughton coupled with the direction in which the game was heading forced Potter to make several positional changes. The final XI (above) saw Carter-Vickers at left-back after Grimes had initially deputised there. Routledge switched to the wide right in order to accommodate Celina.
Swansea 3 – 1 Stoke
“It’s so good to see us playing like this”, “A great win again. We have been exceptional since the new year win in the league at home and scoring goals for fun”, “It's ridiculous how good we are despite having our squad decimated in the summer”, “We were pulling them apart and looked imperious.”
Daniel James’s stunning strike on 23 put the Swans ahead before Van der Hoorn doubled the advantage on 40. James McClean pulled one back just before half-time but Stoke defenders Bruno Martins Indi and Tom Edwards both saw red for fouls on James. Oli McBurnie added a third on 86.
“Stoke down to 10 men, it’s time to turn the screw”, “Stoke down to nine!”, “It was lovely football again tonight. We were unbelievably comfortable. A great week for us, if only we can keep this team together”, “Those idiots moaning about our style of play look daft now. The shot count was 31-2.”
Goalkeepers and Defenders
“Kristoffer Nordfeldt is the worse keeper we have ever had. He can't catch the most straightforward of crosses.” The 29-year-old Sweden international and ex-Heerenveen man “would be a good keeper in a less physical league. He has super reactions and is very agile but so unsuited to English football.”
“Corner, poor goalkeeping, goal”, “What has Nordfeldt got in his togs, studs or 12-inch nails? He's permanently stuck on his goal line”, “Our players don’t trust him. He stands there, not owning his box. His reactions are poor, his messing around when the ball is in the air is his greatest weakness.”
“Steven Benda's biggest issue is coming for balls too often.” The 20-year-old German ex-TSV Munich youth product “is a good keeper, but he charges out for things that he probably isn't going to get to including stuff outside the box. Get him on the weights this summer to bulk up try him next season.”
“Connor Roberts needs to get back to doing the basics.” The 23-year-old youth product “seems to have lost his focus and is trying to be a game changer in every single match. The irony is that when he knuckles down and plays his natural right-back role he often can be. He needs to calm down.”
“Roberts is an excellent full-back who can play as a wing-back because he has a good engine. He lacks the skills of a winger and can't really go past a player with the ball”, “He has an edge, which is great to see, but it doesn’t help to go bombing on playing one-touch one-twos if he's struggling.”
“Kyle Naughton is what he's always been, a quality player for the Championship, but someone you would ideally replace in the Premier League.” The 30-year-old ex-Spurs man “is doing a fine job for us at this level”, “He's pretty competent at defending against pacey wingers and gives everything.”
“Naughton, although solid at left-back, is right footed and with that comes a degree of imbalance. In that role his offensive play is weak”, “He always looks slightly clumsy on the ball. Like many full backs these days his first thought is to pass back to his centre-half. We certainly need him in the trenches.”
“With Martin Olsson injured [with a ruptured Achilles], Declan John is our recognised left back.” The 23-year-old one-time Cardiff man “is pretty good going forwards, showing plenty of attacking intent, dribbling ability and link-up play”, “He could do a decent job for us but he’s a snowflake in a tackle.”
“John’s only strength is dribbling and he switches off, he’s weak on aerial duels and he can’t tackle”, “As a left-back you expect him to bust a gut to close down an opponent crossing but he just stands there admiring proceedings”, “Players often have the chance to pass to him but turn the other way.”
“Joe Rodon is good in the air but he can be a liability will ball at feet.” The 21-year-old youth product “takes more risks with the ball at his feet when he brings it out. He gets caught out, especially given his inexperience, but it helps hugely to unlock teams in the midfield area when they park the bus.”
“Joe looked way off the pace at QPR”, “He had a poor spell of form, but before that he was immense not just defensively but breaking lines and getting us playing as well”, “Is it a massive coincidence that we seem to have become much weaker from set pieces since he had a foot injury in January?”
“Mike van der Hoorn appears to relish the physical aspect of the Championship rather than all the tippy toes and divers of the Premier League.” The 26-year-old ex-Ajax centre-half “can’t command the six-yard box in the air. He lacks pace and imagination when in possession but he tries to play.”
“What excuse can you give when a player like Van der Hoorn, one of our most consistent performers all season makes shocking mistakes like he did at QPR”, “I rate him but he reminds me a bit of Ashley Williams in that he has a head like a Toblerone”, “He wouldn’t look out of place on a rugby pitch.”
Cameron Carter-Vickers (CCV)
“CCV is strong as an ox and I don't remember him making many mistakes.” The 21-year-old loanee from Spurs and former Town loan signing “is actually a pretty perfect fit for our style. There was a graph put out recently that of all Championship defenders, he is one of the best at passing the ball.”
Cameron Carter-Vickers v Kieffer Moore (Barnsley)
“In general, CCV has been impressive. He's top notch for number of passes and accuracy but his use of the ball is extremely conservative”, “He adds a physical edge to the back line but he's too short for a first-choice centre back. He's technically very good and a solid defender who plays extremely safe.”
“Can somebody call a breakdown truck for Jay Fulton? You will find him stuck in first gear around the halfway line.” The 25-year-old ex-Falkirk man “never gives up. He works his socks off and busts a gut to try and make amends when losing possession. His lack of pace is exposed against quick passing.”
“Matt Grimes has been a revelation this season.” The 23-year-old former Exeter man “is now finally showing his potential”, “He’s our best out-and-out holding midfielder but he can play on the left and as a centre-back if needed”, “He has been brilliant, the right player and manager at the right time.”
“Grimes is one of the highest players in the Championship tackling charts, although positionally he has got room for improvement”, “He has stepped up in so many ways this season. If we lose Van der Hoorn and Leroy Fer this summer, dare I say he should be automatically next in line to be Captain?”
“George Byers really good at winning the ball back, his pressing is really strong at the moment.” The 22-year-old former Watford youth product “has been a real find”, “Maybe. He strikes me as a player with less of a football brain. He gets sloppy when doing well and also gets down when up against it.”
“Byers was particularly awful in sea of awfulness at QPR, but bringing him on against Rotherham at half-time was a game changer. We looked far quicker after the break”, “He isn't suited to the holding role and he should play further forward”, “I am impressed with him but he needs more consistency.”
“Celina can definitely see a pass that others can't.” The 22-year-old former Manchester City youth product and Ipswich loanee “is the best natural footballer we’ve had since Michu”, “He's got all the attributes. He needs to add a tough edge and sharpen up a bit, and he should take more free kicks.”
“When Celina has the likes of McBurnie and Routledge around him making runs or looking for space, he looks a different player because he finds passes to set them free. When surrounded by statues he tries to do too much himself because there isn’t a ball on. Players around him don’t have his vision.”
“Celina plays better with strong players around him in midfield. He isn’t a ball-winner”, “I would get a few quick thinkers around him and don’t start him wide on the left, he’s wasted there”, “Fans get on his back for misplaced passes and his being a lightweight but he’s a wonderful work in progress.”
Wingers and Wide Midfielders
“Barrie McKay is a strange one.” The 24-year-old ex-Nottingham Forest winger “has got talent, but getting it out of him regularly is a battle”, “I hope he proves me wrong as there is a skilful player in there but he lacks courage and commitment”, “He’s capable of the sublime under little pressure.”
“McKay is not one for the trenches but handy to relieve tired legs when we’re well on top”, “There’s definitely more than a decent player in there who thrives when we’re on the front foot. When we struggle though he hides and doesn’t show. If he could grow a pair, he would be a definite starter.”
“Nathan Dyer has been brilliant since coming back in from the cold in December.” The 30-year-old ex-Southampton winger “seems to have a free role up front, switching with Routledge and McBurnie and it really opens the game up”, “He can be guilty of overplaying and letting the moment pass.”
“Joel Asoro has hellish pace but needs coaching.” The 19-year-old July acquisition from Sunderland “looks dangerous when driving at defenders”, “He has a way to go in his career to get close to the impact of Dyer. This season has for the most part passed him by but we need to stick with him.”
Sunderland's Josh Maja (R) celebrates with Joel Asoro
“Asoro has pace and skill, but he plays with his head down and has no awareness of anyone around him. This results in him running into trouble more often than not, instead of making obvious passes”, “At the beginning of the season he was confident and had little hesitation in what he wanted to do.”
“We've got a real star in the making on our hands with James. He's going to be massive.” The youth product and Wales international “is 21 years old with pace to burn. What a future he has, enjoy him while he is with us”, “He’s a great little player, and he’s the most exciting youngster in the country.”
“His pace is ridiculous”, “He reads the game very well and times his runs brilliantly. His two biggest problems are his finishing and because he times his runs well and is so quick, there is rarely anyone in support when he bursts through, so it often ends in a clumsy shot. He needs others to help him.”
“Courtney Baker-Richardson is a hard-working, physical centre-forward.” The 23-year-old one-time Coventry youth product “He's not the finished article but he's a much better option than no striker. He works hard and is almost old school. He’s not particularly quick and he’s not particularly deft.”
“Baker-Richardson moves around a little, quite slowly. He just lacks pace”, “He will chase down and link play well, but is really not up to the standard we would need to be competitive at this level”, “If you want someone to give the centre backs a battle and to chase everything down, you pick him.”
“I wasn’t a big supporter of Wayne Routledge when he first signed for Swansea but I must admit he’s been a true professional in his time here.” The 34-year-old ex-Newcastle man “is one of the few who can bring a ball under instant control and hold up play which gives the defence a needed breather.”
“Routledge is a quality player. He may not have the energy or the gas he had as a youngster, but he’s got the technical ability, skills and reads the game well”, “He alternates with McBurnie and drifts out wide to the right flank. He stretches defences with a threat in behind and will run the right channel.”
“Oli McBurnie knows he can score goals in this league.” The 22-year-old ex-Bradford City man “likes to come deep and get involved in the game, but he’s definitely not a number 10 so he really needs to learn more discipline on the front man aspect of his game”, “We do need a proper centre-forward.”
“McBurnie struggles to lead a line and wants to play in spaces Celina takes up. He's the square peg of the bunch, unfortunately. Potter has had issues all season trying to accommodate him in a way that gets the best out of everyone”, “He’s like an excitable puppy, trying to be in everyone else position.”
“Although Oli is practically our only out-and-out striker, I wonder if we're better without him”, “He has his faults, he looks like the only player we have who sticks the ball in the net with any regularity. He's quality with his feet but I would like to see him work on his heading and his aerial presence.”
Swansea Fans’ Views on ITFC and the Game
With the Rotherham game giving ample food for discussion and the Easter weekend upon them, Swans have had nothing to say at the time of writing about Monday’s trip to Suffolk. I will update the forum if there is sufficient interesting comment and link the thread to my Twitter feed.
The busiest Swansea message board is our lively and well-informed sister site Planet Blue. Bolton Wanderers highlights are available on the Multimedia menu as well as Ipswich Town and for the whole of the Championship and other EFL leagues.
Photo: Action Images
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