Tag Archives: Swansea City

Night of drama in Championship as Bees loose out to Baggies to go up

The best league in the world served up more drama on the final round of matches in the Championship on Wednesday evening.

Before kick off there was plenty of issues still to be decided.  Who would be joining Leeds United in the Premiership?  Who could possibly squeeze into the play-offs? Finally which three sides would be playing in League One next season?

West Brom Manager Slaven Bilic had to suffer 96 minutes of unbearable tension before the Baggies were guaranteed Premiership football next season.

After a two-year absence, they are back in the big time but they were pushed all the way by a resilient QPR side. It was the Londoners who took the lead through Ryan Manning, but West Brom hit back to lead 2-1 before Eberechi Eze levelled for Rangers just over the hour mark to leave the Baggies facing an anxious end to their league campaign.

When the final whistle went, West Brom players waited on the pitch to hear what was happening at Griffin Park. When news came through that Brentford had lost, wild scenes erupted around the Hawthorns as West Brom were confirmed as runners up.

You have to feel sorry for Brentford, who up until the last two results had looked the side likely to join Leeds in the top flight of English Football next season.

However, their surprising defeat to Stoke City at the weekend and last night’s shock 2-1 loss to Barnsley has cost them dearly. It will be play-offs for Thomas Frank’s vibrant side. For Barnsley, thanks to Clarke Oduor’s stoppage time winner, it meant that they had left the bottom three, thanks to Wigan Athletic’s 12-point deduction.

Fulham will have to go through the tough grind of the play-offs after a 1-1 draw against Wigan at the DW Stadium.

The draw meant that the Cottagers finished in fourth place in the table, two points outside second place West Brom.

Before last night’s action there would have been very few people who would have bet on both Welsh sides getting to the play-offs. Following an incredible night of action, however, saw both Cardiff and Swansea book their play-off dates with Nottingham Forest agonisingly missing out.

Cardiff relegated Hull City at the Cardiff City Stadium by securing a 3-0 win, while down the M4 Swansea were doing their best to gate crash the play-off mix by heavily beating Reading 4-1.

At the start of the evening, The Swans had to overcome a five-goal swing with Forest. The Welsh side did their bit, so it was down to what Forest could do against Stoke City at the City Ground.

Forest, in the top six for most of the season, capitulated 4-1 against Stoke and missed out on the play-offs. Swansea pipping the East Midland side on goal difference by a mere one goal.

Leeds celebrated being crowned champions  by hammering Charlton Athletic 4-0 at Elland Road. A result that sent Lee Bowyer’s side down to League One.

Luton Town survived a nervy night and escaped relegation after beating Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at Kenilworth Road.

In other matches, Middlesbrough’s impressive form under Neil Warnock continued with a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, while Millwall ended their campaign on a high with a 4-1 victory against Huddersfield, with Derby County winning at Birmingham 3-1.

Championship play-offs

Swansea City vs Brentford first leg Sunday 26th July second leg Wednesday 29th July.

Cardiff City vs Fulham first leg Monday 27th July second leg Thursday 30th July

Final Tuesday 4th August

Analysis of the Championship Run-in

Championship fans up and down the country were today (June 8) given a huge boost of excitement with the EFL announcing the restart schedule released – along with confirmed TV selections.

The journey will continue for Sky Bet Championship clubs with the action kicking off again on Saturday 20 June. They couldn’t have gone for a juicier opening fixture with promotion contenders Fulham & Brentford clashing in front of the Sky cameras for a West London derby.

So with just nine games remaining, who is in the running for promotion and relegation? Let’s break it down and give a final prediction of what could go down starting with the relegation candidates.

We all know what gruelling and outright horrible season the Championship can be for clubs. It is 46 games of tough, physical games of football and we would usually be talking of these remaining nine games as the last hurdle, but truthfully, with the break, everyone has now had, anything could happen. Even more, than it usually does. Seriously, the Championship has become even more unpredictable – let the party begin.

Last term, 44 points renewed Millwall’s Championship status and the year before that, 43 points kept Bolton up. Yet with 27 points still up for grabs, Hull City sit one place out the drop zone on 41 points which makes you realise we could be in for a much higher points total to guarantee safety.

So who are all the teams in the relegation run-in? I suppose this is almost impossible to pinpoint with the dramatic changes this league can produce but all the way up to seventeenth spot we have Stoke City who are just three points adrift. Below them are Huddersfield, Middlesbrough Wigan and Hull. The drop zone meanwhile contains Charlton, Luton, and Barnsley.

Given the number of ridiculous results that the Championship can produce I almost feel it a pointless exercise to start analysing the run-ins that the teams have but some crucial relegation clashes are coming up – one of them being Hull vs Middlesbrough.

The Yorkshire derby (I’m sorry) has been selected for Sky coverage on Thursday 2 July and could play a pivotal part. The Tigers made a terrible gamble in January by selling their dynamic duo of Jared Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to West Ham and West Brom respectively and it’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone worse for them.

At one stage it looked like Hull might be in for a fairly stable season but since Christmas, they have picked up just eleven points from a possible forty-two, including heavy defeats in the last two outings to Leeds and Stoke.

Elsewhere, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Wigan Athletic who were in the form of their lives and picked up huge wins over the current top two, Leeds and West Brom. It’s a huge fight meanwhile for Barnsley, who, despite some half-decent form themselves, are still bottom of the pile and seven points adrift. Gerhard Struber has not done a bad job with the Yorkshire club but the sheer awfulness of their start to the season before he took charge in November means that it still hasn’t been enough.

Charlton Athletic have been hit with a huge blow, which has been a big talking point ahead of the restart with several players including top scorer Lyle Taylor, refusing to continue. Taylor (30) is out of contract and states his physical health as reasons for not agreeing to a temporary extension as he doesn’t want an injury to prevent him from a move next season.

Even with Taylor’s goals, Charlton are two points deep in the relegation zone and without them, you do wonder where the results are going to come from. Below the Addicks, we have Luton Town who for most of the season have just looked a little bit out of their depth. It would be a shame for Luton to go down as their epic rise, fall and rise again has been a great story. Do they, however, have enough to stay up?

Huddersfield and Stoke may be living life dangerously sitting just three points clear, but the misfortunes of Charlton and Hull I think will keep them safe enough and out of the equation. Huddersfield will, however, have crucial games against Wigan and Luton, meanwhile Stoke will have to fight off tough opposition with three of the top six still to play.

Final Prediction
21: Charlton Athletic (Survived)
22: Hull City (Relegated)
23: Barnsley (Relegated)
24: Luton Town (Relegated)

So on we go to the epic prize that is the Premier League. Once again this is going to be a tough one to predict and it really wouldn’t shock me if a team I mention in this somehow ends up in a relegation scrap. This division is mental, it really is.

With just six points separating sixth and thirteenth – don’t shoot me if I end up getting this horrifically wrong.

I reiterate that form could completely go out the window with the big break that we have had and the run-ins could make no difference whatsoever but nonetheless, we’ll start with the current top two.

Leeds and West Brom have looked the best bets for promotion for a lot of this season and six points currently separates West Brom from Fulham in third with Leeds one point ahead of Albion in first. Both have had their bad spells this season and at one point it seriously looked like both Fulham and Brentford could take up the top two spots.

Before the pandemic, however, Leeds were in tantalising form winning their last five games and conceding no goals in the process. For West Brom, it was a little more up and down drawing away to Swansea and losing at home to Wigan but the Baggies did register big wins over Preston and Bristol City before that.

With Brentford ten points behind West Brom, we have to suggest at this stage that Fulham are the main contenders to challenge the top two.

However, a reminder that Fulham do host Brentford in the first game back and an away win for the Bees could give them a very good argument that they are still in the mix. Thomas Frank’s side will then have to face West Brom immediately afterwards at home so those two games perhaps could give us a good idea?

In that same game week, Leeds will host Fulham in what could also prove to be huge. My word I have missed this barnstormer of a league!

We must also not forget Nottingham Forest who sit level with Brentford in fifth, however, since their big home win over Leeds back in February, the form for Sabri Lamouchi’s men has been very up and down. They were shocked at home to Charlton and since been well beaten in their last game at the hands of Millwall. Forest have been crying out for Premier League football even longer than Leeds but still strike me as a team that is developing under Lamouchi.

There is no doubt that Lamouchi has transformed Forest into a much better side than we have seen over the years and for that reason, in my opinion, it puts him in the running for manager of the year. Should they, however, fall short this season they’d have to be big favourites next year.

Four points behind Forest in sixth we have Preston where thankfully we can now just be talking about who is going to take that spot come July. Not that I should completely disregard Preston ploughing through everyone in nine games and go up as champions but let’s just pretend that isn’t possible. Alex Neil is another manager who has done a tremendous job this season, turning Preston from a mid-table team to a side that is mounting a promotion challenge.

They do, however, face stiff competition from Bristol City, who are just a point behind The Lilywhites, while Millwall and Cardiff are just two points adrift. Oh, but then we have Blackburn, Swansea and Derby who are also very much in contention…I give in, please no one shoot me for this prediction.

To make matters more difficult these are all teams who’s form has been very inconsistent, I mean that’s probably why they are where they are. I do make a strong case for Gary Rowett’s Millwall though, who, since Rowett’s appointment I’ve identified as dark horses for promotion.

Rowett has had a lot of talk about him since his shock departure from Birmingham as to how good a coach he is and it did not go well for him at Stoke. At the time it looked a risky decision to take the managerial role at The Den, given that the previous season Millwall had very narrowly escaped relegation and were sat in seventeenth spot at the time of his appointment.

The Lions though have lost just five league games in his 23 game tenure and with just two points separating them and Preston they do look a good bet. Bristol City meanwhile were in very bad form before lockdown and despite that potentially making no difference anymore, they aren’t a team that has struck me as one that would maintain a spot in the playoffs. I would also say similarly with Guy Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, who have been in and around the mix for a while now and for a long time topped the form table, but ultimately I see them coming short.

Swansea and Derby are interesting ones because the Swans were at the top end of the table for a while before Christmas but a bad run of form led to their slip down the table. They are a young footballing side that given time under Steve Cooper, they could be well in the mix next season.

Derby, on the other hand, have had a very eventful season.  The signing of Wayne Rooney in January to the sacking of captain Richard Keogh. Focusing on the football, they’re a team that has tried to play out from the back under Phillip Cocu but just haven’t done it that well. Their fortunes have however recently changed and the results have started to come, which has led to them being back in the mix but I think it will be too little too late for them.

Final Prediction
1: Leeds (Promoted)
2: West Brom (Promoted)
3: Fulham
4: Brentford (Promoted via Playoffs)
5: Nottingham Forest
6: Millwall

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.’’

One more defeat and he’s gone?

Its hard to believe that after just 3 games into the new Premier League campaign we are talking about the first possible managerial casualty. 

Crystal Palace have made the worse possible start to the new season as they have lost all 3 of their opening fixtures, and have yet to score a league goal.

Manager Frank De Boer was announced as the successor to Sam Allardyce who stepped down from his post at Selhurst Park back in June. Upon the Dutchman’s appointment there was a sense of optimism around ‘The Eagles’ that they could go on and have a very good season, under the former Ajax and Inter Milan manager.

Bringing in players such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Timothy Fosu Mensah on loan, as well as completing a €9m move for AFC Ajax defender Jairo Reidewald had given the fans further belief that the club were heading in the right direction and De Boer was the man to steer them away from a team that just stayed up every year, and turn them into a solid mid table outfit.

After an opening day thumping by newly promoted Huddersfield Town 3-0 at home, and this backed up with two further defeats to Liverpool and Swansea City respectively, the Dutchman has found himself under huge pressure so early on in his tenure.

Nothing short of 3 points away at Turf Moor this weekend would be good enough for the club, who desperately need to find some kind of form otherwise they could find themselves embroiled in a relegation battle and worse than that for De Boer he could very well found himself out of a job come Monday morning.

Crystal Palace fans should the club stick by Frank De Boer? Is it to soon to sack a manager? Let us know in the comments section…

Swansea should turn their attentions to this former striker

Swansea City have made a decent start to their Premier League campaign. After claiming a terrific draw on the road against Southampton on the opening day, the Swans were then beaten at home by Manchester United, but responded in terrific fashion as they went to Selhurst Park and beat Crystal Palace 2-0.

After losing their star player Gylfi Sigurdsson earlier on in the window to Everton, the club have been trying to identify targets to bring in. Reports circulating are that Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches will be coming into the club to replace Sigurdsson, but in other news it seems like Chelsea are looking to take Spanish striker Fernando Llorente to Stamford Bridge.

The striker played a vital role in Swansea surviving in the Premier League last season scoring 15 goals in just 33 games, but will the lure of playing for the current Premier League champions and going to play under Antonio Conte be too tempting?

If Llorente is to leave the Liberty Stadium, then the Swans should turn their attentions to former striker Wilfried Bony.

Wilfried Bony – The Ivory Coast striker joined Manchester City from Swansea in 2015, but has struggled for regular game time at the Etihad Stadium having made just 36 Premier League appearances for the Citizens.

His last season at the Liberty stadium saw him score 11 goals and many Swansea fans were disappointed to see him leave the club.

Having fallen down the pecking order at Manchester City, Bony is going to struggle to get a run in the first team so a move back to South Wales could help him rekindle his form and also help Swansea this season push on up the Premier League.

Swansea City fans would you like to see Wilfried Bony back in a Swansea shirt? Would he be the ideal replacement for Fernando Llorente if he were to leave? Let us know in the comments section below…