|Swans Fans Were Angry- In A Totally Positive Way How a Common Enemy Helped Guidolin’s side pull of|
Written by BarneyLW on Wednesday, 14th Sep 2016 17:30
A return from the international break, which in truth was needed to clear the air around the club. A frustrating transfer market compounded and exacerbated back-to-back defeats against Hull City and the champions, Leicester. Boardroom shake-ups and a tough run of games has given the Jack Army little to be optimistic about.
Yet, the game on Sunday against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea has dramatically changed the mood around Swansea. There was anger, there was frustration, but not directed inward. And it worked wonders.
Few could’ve predicted such an upsurge of a healthy yet feral atmosphere half an hour into Sunday’s game. A shift in formation saw Steven Kinglsey become a third centre back, with Kyle Naughton and Neil Taylor becoming wing-backs at the expense of wingers, allowing a more pragmatic and midfield-heavy line up. The hard-working, but also very physically adept Chelsea bossed the opening half, Diego Costa scoring 17 minutes in and in truth the visitors could’ve got more, quickly penning the back three into a back five. This was perhaps where Guidolin showed what some would call bravery and tactical nouse, others would call disrespect; substituting Neil Taylor minutes before half time, bringing on Modou Barrow and reverting to a back four to give the home side some cutting edge going forward.
The second half turned out to be a quite sensational one; goals, chances galore and certainly no shortage of fiery controversy. The home fans had been quiet in the first half, but with Chelsea players and supporters getting them riled up, this had the desired effect on the team. When Gylfi Sigurdsson was brought down in the Chelsea area before the Iceman confidently dispatched the resulting penalty, not three minutes later Leroy Fer dispossessed Gary Cahill to eventually get a shot through Thibaut Courtois’ legs and trickled the goal which completed an implausible comeback. The replays showed Fer appeared to foul Cahill in the tackle, leaving the visitors’ defender visibly appalled. Perhaps not the ‘assault’ pundit Chris Sutton described it, but in any case few of the Liberty Stadium faithful would care too much. A build up of frustration around the antics of Diego Costa in particular led to scenes of jubilation arguably not seen in SA1 since the home win against Cardiff in 2014. Indeed Costa did go on to score an equaliser in a game that ended 2-2, but the celebrations at the end tell the story. So often Chelsea’s main frontman, praised in the week by Guidolin for his aggression is at the centre of controversy. Before scoring the equaliser he could have been shown a second yellow for simulation following a collision with Lukasz Fabianski, yet many times in the game it looked like the game would quickly become the ‘Costa Show’. So often he is the wasp, a constant threat looking to sting anyone in his path, he is a clever player, and to follow the analogy, so often those that are charged with marking him are the bee. The slightest provocation, they will lash out and sting him. Only to be dismissed from the game. Perhaps this analogy spirals a little, but the point remains, Guidolin’s side did well to stand up to his aggression without going overboard. For the fans, it was clear who the pantomime villain was. This outward aggression had an effect on the team which cannot be underestimated. This rally and connection between fans and the 11 on the pitch will go a long way to helping the Swans achieve a positive finish. Perhaps the same level of animosity will not be replicated when the team travels to St. Mary’s to face Southampton on Sunday, yet it is difficult not to see a dramatic and positive change in the feeling around the club following what was a well earned draw and indeed a very entertaining game.
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Although not an avid collector, I recently catalogued my collection of football memorabilia and I have 175 items, mostly programmes, some fanzines, and a few ticket stubs which aren’t accompanied by anything else. I have no idea how many more may have been misplaced during house moves, clear-outs etc., but the collection spans nearly 30 years (the earliest is the programme from our 1990 Boxing Day game against Barnet at Layer Rd), and is almost universally Colchester United related (though not quite all of it). I have decided to try and put this to some use, by choosing one at random prior to each match and writing a short article about the match, maybe the programme, and even any personal recollections I have of the game (notwithstanding enforced enfeeblement due to excessive libation). I will try and do this ahead of each game this season, but my apologies in advance if I don’t quite achieve that.