Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Sunday, 8 May 2005, 0:00
4 mins read

Once Bitten, Twice Shy?

Despite the best attempts of certain sections of the Bury support and the Greater Manchester police to put a dampener on our promotion, the past 24 hours have been full of joy and relief for Swans fans everywhere. The memory of seeing Forbes’ beautifully struck goal fly into the net past the hapless Garner after 30 seconds and, for slightly less joyous reasons, the sight of Willy Gueret getting cuffed by the Old Bill will stay with me and many other fans forever. Reading the usually avoidable Wales On Sunday today, I saw a picture of the players celebrating in the changing room afterwards, and it reminded me of a similar picture that was taken after the class of 2000 achieved promotion under John Hollins. Richard Evans was a common factor in both photos, and I’m sure O’Leary, another member of the 2000 squad, was in yesterday’s photo somewhere amongst the chaos. That got me thinking about the great disappointment that Swansea fans felt at the failure to capitalise on the opportunity presented to them in 2000, and to the horrible idea that we may make the same mistakes again this time. Whenever I see the 2000 photo, it seems almost absurd to me, contrasting the joy and celebration on the managers and player’s faces with the horror of the seasons that were to follow, some of them the darkest in the history of the club. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then, a lot of drama, turmoil, heartbreak, fan mobilisation and renewed hope. So much so that the capacity for the average jack for cynicism, satire and dry humour has been honed to a fine art!. The Hollins team was the lowest scoring team ever win a divisional title, a testament to the reliance on the defensive unit, but that stubborn reliance was to play a part in our downfall. As with the Hollins team, Jackett’s team has been accused of being too defensive and of getting where they are by being too reliant on a solid defence, often holding on for dear life to a one goal advantage in too many games for comfort. The idea that we have got where we are by virtue of being not as bad as the rest is common currency amongst a number of the support, and it is also my view, as well as being the view of many back in 2000. Of course, It could be argued, and was in 2000, that getting an average squad of players promoted is a sign of a great manager, but as the whole Hollins experience demonstrated, that is not always the case, and such an achievement could also be said to be the mark of a lucky manager. And luck has a nasty habit of running out. There are obvious differences between our situation in 2005 and our situation in 2000. And it is these differences that give us hope. The club is in the hands of local businessmen who are fans of the club and who have overseen the elimination of our debts, a doubling of our support, and the conclusion of a deal to bring the Morfa stadium to reality. They have also shown themselves not to be not shy to step in and take decisive action when things are going wrong, a situation that Swans fans were crying out for during the disastrous 2000/2001 relegation season when the club just seemed to give in to its fate in the new year. One would hope that if we face a difficult situation next year the new board would not make the same mistakes. Strengthening of the squad seems to me essential this summer. The last time we were promoted, it was on the whole the same set of players who lined up in the higher division. It is interesting to note that one of the clubs that went up us that year, Rotherham, whom many people thought were by far the better team, did not take the same path. They released most of the players that had got them promotion and signed a new set of players to tackle the higher division, they reaped the rewards and were promoted again to the Championship, I don’t need to point out where we finished that year. Sentiment should not be allowed to obscure the fact that this squad of players will not move the club forward in League 1. At least 5 quality players need to be brought in, maybe more, and a few of the current squad should be shipped out, I’m sure there will be a number of takers for some, Thorpe and Austin for example have achieved automatic promotion for two League 2 clubs now, and a manager may look to take them off our hands with that track record. I don’t want to go into any great detail at this stage about who I would or would not keep, as this is not the point of the article, I’ll leave that to the Jack Pack message board!. I’m not having a go at any of the players as they have ALL played there part, but being a manager is about making tough decisions, and Hollins was not able to make them. Whether Jackett has shown too much faith in some members of our squad is a moot point now that we are promoted, but it could rear its ugly head again next season if major changes are not made. The reason that I am concerned about the club making the same mistakes again is that it is obvious that the opportunities for progress this time around are far greater than they were last time around. The stakes are higher, and the fall will be greater if we fail. The new stadium, a resurgent and ever growing fan base, and a club in the black financially are the bedrock of our hope for the clubs future. We really have an opportunity to move forward to the Championship. Clubs such as Hull, Plymouth and Rotherham have shown that consolidation is often not the best way to do things, when you are on a roll you need to grasp the opportunity with both hands, as they don’t often come around. Let’s not make the same mistakes that have held this club back in the past. Mr Jackett and The Board of Directors – Our hopes are in your hands.

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