Category Archives: Swansea City

Brentford meet Fulham in 170 million pound encounter

Following 48 Championship matches, for West London rivals Brentford and Fulham it comes down to one 90-minute game to determine the success or failure of their season. 

For Fulham and Scott Parker it is a chance to bounce straight back up, while for Brentford it is an opportunity for the Bees to play in the top-flight for the first time in 70 years.

Brentford’s season

This season was always going to be an emotional one for the Bees as it was going to be the final one at Griffin Park, which has been their home for 116 years.

Indeed, this campaign has certainly proved to be an eventful one for Tom Frank’s side. The first half of the season started off slowly but they did manage to secure an impressive 7-0 win over Luton Town at the end of November and they did also beat their play-off final opponents at Griffin Park back in December 1-0 thanks to a Bryan Mbeumo goal.

It was the Bee’s Championship restart form that ultimately proved the catalyst for their promotion charge.  They once again managed to beat Fulham, this time 2-0 thanks to their Algerian superstar, Said Benrahma. They followed that result up with an impressive 1-0 win over Slavin Bilic’s West Brom, thanks to a goal from their striker, Ollie Watkins, who has managed 26 goals in all competitions this campaign and will be much sort after by Premier League clubs if Brentford do not go up this time around.

A further five victories in a row over Reading, Wigan, Charlton, Derby and Preston followed, which sparked talk not just a play-off spot but of automatic promotion.  Tom Frank’s side, however, would suffer defeat in their final two matches against Stoke City and Barnsley, which ultimately ensured that they had to make do with a third place finish and a spot in the Play-Offs.

The Play-Offs for the Bee’s fans certainly strike both excitement and trepidation into their hearts.

One hard luck story in particular comes to mind for the West-London club took place seven years ago when they missed a late penalty against Doncaster Rovers in the 90thminute before Rovers would then break upfield to score and go up as League One Champions.  Further heartbreak in the League One Play-off final at Wembley was to follow as Brentford lost 2-1 against Yeovil Town.

It has been, however, a case of so far so good for Tom Frank’s side as they managed to overcome Steve Cooper’s Swansea City team.  Having lost the first leg 1-0 thanks to an Andre Ayew goal, the second leg and last game at Griffin Park saw a dramatic turnaround inspired by Ollie Watkins, who levelled the tie in the 11thminute of the match.

A header from Emiliano Marcondes followed which gave the London side the lead on the night and on aggregate before a volley from Mbeumo gave the hosts a two-goal cushion.  On loan Rhian Brewster managed to pull a goal back for the Welsh side 12 minutes from time to produce a grand stand finish but the visitors ultimately were unable to find that all important goal to take the game to extra time.

Fulham’s Season

For manager Scott Parker’s first season in charge of Fulham the task was simple, bounce straight back up.  Easier said that done, the Cottagers, however, set about this in impressive fashion.  Although they started off with an opening day 1-0 loss to Barnsley, they managed to produce strong league performances particularly in November when they won four and lost just once.

The lockdown, however, did not come at a good time for the London club as they had just come off two straight wins against promotion rivals Swansea City and Preston and secured a 1-1 draw at Bristol City.

Indeed, the restart subsequently witnessed the Cottagers loose against Brentford and Leeds United before recapturing some of their form from November by winning against the likes of Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City and they also emerged on the right end of a 5-3 score line against Sheffield Wednesday thanks to two goals each from Neekaens Kebano and top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic.

That result ensured that they would feature in the play-offs and following a 1-1 draw with Wigan they knew they would be up against Welsh side Cardiff City in the Semi-finals.

The Cottagers secured a crucial 2-0 victory in the first leg thanks to a superb individual effort from midfielder Josh Onomah and just before the end Kebano curled in a wonderful free kick.

The second-leg at Craven Cottage saw Fulham ultimately progress to the final at Wembley despite a 2-1 loss and additionally they had to do it without their main man, Mitrovic.  The Welsh side got off to the dream start and they were able to demonstrate their impressive ability from set pieces. A powerful header from Curtis Nelson made it 1-0 before just 30 seconds later Kebano was able to convert an Anthony Knockaert cross.

Cardiff’s Lee Tomlin restored his side’s advantage on the night just after half time and ensured a tense 40 minutes for The Whites. Parker’s team, however, were able to hold out to ensure that they made it to Wembley for the second time in three years.

Indeed, the Whites certainly have fond recent memories when it comes to the Championship play-offs having beat Aston Villa in the 2018 play-off final 1-0 thanks to a goal from their captain, Tom Cairney.

Team news

Brentford have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the Play-Off Final.

Fulham’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic has managed to overcome a hamstring strain, which kept him out of the semi-final victory over Cardiff. While Harry Arter and Ivan Cavaleiro will also be available meaning that Parker will have a fully fit squad to choose from.

How to watch

The match will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football and is scheduled for a 7:45pm kick-off on Tuesday 4th August. Coverage begins from 7pm.  The match will take place behind closed doors at Wembley Stadium.

Prediction

Only four and half miles separate the sides and only goal difference divided them in the regular season. Tom Frank’s Bees, however, have held the edge over Fulham in their two league encounters this campaign and fancy them to get the job done at Wembley.

 Score Prediction: Brentford 2-1 Fulham

 

Brentford crowned EFL Football Manager Cup Winners

Brentford supporter Sam Jacques successfully managed the Championship side to FM2020 EFL Cup glory this past weekend.

The Bees overcame Welsh side Swansea City in the final of the competition in a nerve racking penalty shoot out after the match finished 1-1 after 120 minutes of action.

The final was ultimately decided by David Raya’s penalty saving heroics after saving spot kicks from Andre Ayew and Conor Gallagher meaning that the shootout finished 5-4.

In truth, Jacques’s team should have won before it reached the penalty stage having created more than enough chances to win the contest in normal and extra time but were kept at bay by the Swansea’s impressive keeper, Freddie Woodman.

It was however the Welsh side, managed by supporter Gareth Roberts, who took the lead through Conor Gallagher who latched onto a long ball from Matt Grimes.

The lead lasted a mere 79 seconds as Emiliano Marcondes headed in Mathias Jensen’s free kick to make it 1-1 before half time.

The second half saw a number of missed chances from the Bees, Marcondes and striker Ollie Watkins both wasted good chances.  In extra-time Marcondes also saw a goal disallowed for offside.

Ultimately, these missed opportunities did not come back to haunt Brentford as they were able to keep their nerve from 12 yards to bring to an end a compelling virtual tournament organised by EFL and partnered by Mind UK.

Overall 54 teams took part in the tournament, which lasted over four weeks.  The JustGiving page set up has so far managed to raise £7,929 for the Mental Health Charity and there is still time to donate to this very worthwhile cause.

Carabao Cup: Round One Draw Announced

The Carabao Cup Round One draw was made on Thursday evening from Morrisons, Colindale, North West London.

There were two stand out ties from the draw with AFC Wimbledon playing MK Dons, while newly-promoted Salford City will face Leeds United.

The draw was conducted by two former England internationals in John Barnes and Ray Parlour and was split into two regions – North and South.

Huddersfield Town, the hightest-ranked team in the Northern Section, will face Lincoln City while the highest ranked Southern side, West Bromwich Albion, will face Millwall.

Every club from Sky Bet League One and League Two enter the Carabao Cup in Round One, along with 22 Championship clubs.

Only Cardiff City and Fulham – who finished 18th and 19th respectively in the Premier League last season, will enter in Round Two, alongside the clubs from the Premier League, not in European competitions.

The first round matches are scheduled to take place week commencing Monday 12thAugust, with the final due to take place on March 1, 2020.

Full Round One Draw can be seen below:

North Draw

Tranmere Rovers v Hull City

Grimsby Town v Doncaster Rovers

Wigan Athletic v Stoke City

Port Vale v Burton Albion

Nottingham Forest v Fleetwood Town

Bradford City v Preston North End

Blackpool v Macclesfield Town

Blackburn Rovers v Oldham Athletic

Mansfield Town v Morecambe

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland

Scunthorpe United v Derby County

Rochdale v Bolton Wanderers

Huddersfield Town v Lincoln City

Middlesbrough v Crewe Alexandra

Shrewsbury Town v Rotherham United

Sheffield Wednesday v Bury

Salford City v Leeds United

Barnsley v Carlisle United

South Draw

Colchester United v Swindon Town

AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons

Oxford United v Peterborough United

Queens Park Rangers v Bristol City

Plymouth Argyle v Leyton Orient

Wycombe Wanderers v Reading

Charlton Athletic v Forest Green Rovers

Gillingham v Newport County

Stevenage v Southend United

Luton Town v Ipswich Town

Walsall v Crawley Town

Bristol Rovers v Cheltenham Town

Brentford v Cambridge United

Coventry City v Exeter City

Swansea City v Northampton Town

Swans Swoop In For Cooper

SWANSEA City have appointed England Under-17 Head Coach Steve Cooper as their new Head Coach.

Cooper, 39, has signed a three-year deal to replace Graham Potter who joined Brighton and Hove Albion earlier this summer.

He will be joined by former Liverpool and West Ham United midfielder Mike Marsh, who becomes the assistant first-team coach, with further backroom appointments to come.

Marsh worked alongside Cooper at the FA and is also the former Liverpool and Huddersfield Town first-team coach.

Cooper, who during his career played as a defender, is the son of former top-flight referee Keith – was on the books of Wrexham as a youngster before joining the clubs academy coaching set-up, acheiveing his UEFA Pro Licence coaching certificate at the age of 26.

After becoming Head of Youth at Wrexham, he moved to Liverpool in 2008 and became Academy manager in 2011. During his time at Anfield, he worked under technical director Pep Segura, who is currently, general football manager at Barcelona and he helped develop players such as Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn.

He first joined the FA set-up in 2013 as a youth coach educator and coached the England Under-16s in 2014 before moving to under-17 level a year level.

Cooper’s Young Lions reached the 2017 European Championship finals, where they lost against Spain on penalties, but they gained revenge later in the year when they beat the same opponents 5-2 in the World Cup final.

The England Under-17 World Cup final side featured the likes of Phil Foden, Rhian Brewster, Morgan Gibbs-White and Callum Hudson-Odoi, whilst Jadon Sancho, who has since made his senior debut, was also in the squad for the tournament.

Swansea chairman Trevor Birch told the clubs official website:“We are excited and delighted with the appointment.

“Together with Leon (Britton) and Alan (Curtis) we went through a long and thorough interview process covering a lot of very good candidates. The quality was extremely high, which speaks volumes about the attractiveness of the opportunity and how well respected this football club is within the game.

“At the forefront of our thinking was the appointment of a head coach who was hungry, ambitious, had a clear track record of playing our style of football, plus a pedigree to work with and develop young, talented players.

“Steve matched all those requirements in abundance and his views, coaching ethos and presentation were extremely compelling.

“It may be his first senior role, but he has been coaching for over 20 years and, let’s not forget, our young squad saw more game time for under-23 players than any other team in the Championship last season. And not many people can say they have won a World Cup, even at under-17 level!

“He is highly regarded as one of the best young coaches in the country and at some stage was always going to be given an opportunity by someone. I’m delighted we are that club because Swansea has a great track record of success in doing just that with the likes of Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers, for example.’’

Birch also revealed that the club were targeting appointing a head coach rather than a manager saying:“We were targeting a head coach rather than a manager because we feel the work on the training pitch will be vital to our success. The appointment of Mike Marsh as his assistant – who has a wealth of knowledge and senior experience – will play a vital role in supporting Steve.

“We will also ensure he receives support from a strong infrastructure around him. Leon and Alan will be regular and familiar figures down at the training ground who, together with the impending new head of recruitment and other backroom hires, will form a strong collaborative team behind the scenes.

“We believe Steve is ready for it, but more importantly he believes he is ready for it as well. We are excited by the appointment and have every confidence and belief in his abilities to be successful.’’

Swansea City: Who is Dan James?

That was a question being asked by a lot of people this week, especially outside of Wales, when Dan James, scored on his full debut for Wales

So who is Dan James?

 

He is a winger, yes that dying breed of wide player, who plays for Swansea City, they who are currently in the EFL Championship under the guidance of Graham Potter, the likeable and unassuming English Manager, who was in charge of Ostersunds, when they beat Arsenal in the Europa League last season

James, is a rising star for Swansea, but such have been his performances, that they have drawn attention from Clubs such as fellow Championship rivals Leeds United, who had a £10 million bid accepted and had agreed terms with the player, before Swansea pulled the plug at the last minute… A move they are glad they did given his form this season.

His goal for Wales, is only going to see his stock rise further in this crazy football market.

James is contracted to Swansea until the summer of 2020, and speculation about where he might end up, have not been helped by the fact that Swansea have admitted there will be redundancies this summer, with all Football Staff, both playing and admin wise, with the exceptions of Graham Potter and his management team.

As Manager Graham Potter explained recently

“My thing with Dan is quite consistent. He hasn’t indicated anything other than he wants to be here, he wants to play and improve, and it is my responsibility to help him do that.

“The rest is a process we will have to do behind the scenes.

“You have to find a solution for everybody and that’s where we are at.

“Progress is being made, as with a lot of other players. We have those conversations and when we have something to announce, we will announce it.”

 

There is no doubting he is hot property at this time, and it could be suggested, that he is premier league quality, which is why Swansea pulled the plug on the Leeds Switch.

No disrespect to Leeds, but they are playing good football, in the top two in the Championship, but as it well known in football, that doesn’t guarantee a Premiership return.

There are a host of clubs, including Arsenal and Newcastle after him and these two clubs might suit him in terms of getting more game time, than somewhere like Man City, where it is likely he will be on the bench or even loaned out to get more experience.

One thing for sure is that this summer is going to be an exciting time for Dan James.