The Root Of The Problem?

Monday, 23 September 2002, 0:01
3 mins read

Following on from Phil’s excellent chronicling of his opinions, and in utter agreement with him, I too have to ask that isn’t it all a bit too quick? As ever, there are two sides to the coin, there is the old “half empty / half full” addage. Yes, we are currently bottom of the league, but after only a fraction of games. Personally, i would much rather us be rock bottom – even if it is for the first time in our history – in September than come next May. Take my hometown side for example: Newport County had a tremendous start to the season this year, winning their opening three games convincingly, scoring three goals in each. Whoopie-Dooh, top o’ the league, an’ all that, only for them to collapse completely and rocket down into the bottom half of their division, only this week turning it around again.

OK, that’s a completely different scenario you might think, but it just goes to show how quickly things can change over a matter of weeks. I seem to remember that when we won the Division 3 championship, we didn’t have a great start to the season, and were languishing in a not-so-sunny league position until we put together our string of clean sheets and 1-0 victories which saw us shoot up the league. It can be that simple. Oh Lord, back then did we ever imagine we’d miss Matty Bound as much as this?

So to go back to my original question, what is the root of the problem? Is it an under-experienced manager, is it his poor assistant? Nah, not in my opinion. Although we have to realize that “loving this club” doesn’t necessarily give you automatic “super coach” status, or indeed “average coach” status, come to that, it does get the crowd on your side. So if Cusack wasn’t the problem, what was? I put it to you, sir, that it comes down to two things: crisis of confidence and association with the club and city.

You only have to look at the way a team like Liverpool has been defending recently to see that no matter how much you pay for players, if they don’t gel at the back then they’ll leak goals and leak badly. OK, the answer for Liverpool is far easier (even if Houllier can’t see it…), namely switch Carragher back to leftback, bring Babbel back in at rightback, and sell Traore to Cardiff. But this Liverpool defence is like ours at the moment: it has no confidence. Their demeanour before and during the games is one of knowing they will concede at least one goal in that match. And this can make even the greatest of defenders seem hopeless…..just look how Sammi Hyppia (under)performed against us Welsh a few weeks ago. I think we’ll find – or would have found – that as soon as our defence does shut out a decent attack for one game….even for one half….then the confidence would start to come back, little by little. This will happen no matter who’s in charge, and let’s hope it does. But that’s no comfort to Cusack and Curtis.

As for “association with the city”, well I feared with what happened over the summer months and such a massive change in personnel, it would take a hell of a long time for the new squad to get some identity with the club. Even constant under-performer Coatsy loved this club and at least tried. OK, they can come out and say “well, the atmosphere at The Vetch is fantastic – better than I’ve ever experienced anywhere else”, but my point is that all of a sudden you have 10 or so players who would never have considered playing for Swansea had they not been free agents and in need of employment. A bit like if you’re unemployed and start to look at the less appetizing jobs when no one else is taking you on. I would do a less appetizing job if I had to, but my heart would not be totally in it.

I just hope that Swansea is more appetizing than that.

Perhaps the problem at our club is that we the fans idolize individuals too much and thereby pile huge amounts of pressure on them. We did it with Mr Nurse, we did it with Mr Curtis, and we have done it with Mr Cusack. What Swansea needs is a team of excellence in charge…whoever that may be. Ideally this would have involved Nick in some shape or form. My own feeling is that a man as level-headed as him will turn into a great manager over time, if that’s the path he chooses, and I DO NOT want another club to reap the rewards of this. Whoops, another loss, too late. So what’s that…four more losses form our new boss and he’s out the door too, eh?

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.
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