The Guardian’s David Hytner was at the game on Sunday, here are a couple of excerpts from his match report – “Swansea City emerged with credit for their all-round polish” and “In this Premier League of blood and thunder, it is remarkable to witness their patience on the ball, particularly at the back”. Michael Laudrup, according to the BBC, said his side played well “but were a bit lacking in the final third of the pitch”.
I was also there but have come to the conclusion that I must have missed something. All this praise (there’s loads more elsewhere) heaped on a side who mustered four shots on goal in nearly 100 minutes, none of which were on target? Of course Laudrup’s side were lacking in the final third, they barely got out of their own equivalent fraction. They spent most of the time trying to ping the ball off Leon Britton in the centre circle rather than make any actual progress.
From my view in the North Stand, Swansea’s football (once again) was passionless and massively negative, it sucked the life out of the game and out of the crowd; apart from a few dirges from the half full away end and some from the Park Lane it was one of the quietest games we’ve had for ages.
The standard tactics against the away team’s risk-free approach are to press high up the pitch and deny space which Dembélé, Sandro, Naughton, Walker et al did perfectly. The possession stats and the chances racked up, a goal seemed inevitable and what was Swansea’s response, just more of the same. Pass pass pass, backwards sideways sideways backwards. Pantomime villain Chico Flores’ apparently agonising death throes followed by his instant recovery were followed by his ridiculous reaction to an oblivious Townsend playing to the whistle but at least he roused the crowd and the game if not his team mates.
Perhaps I need to get out more but this really winds me up. I’m not suggesting that I’m salivating for the visit of Pulis and his neanderthals this weekend but if we’re going to get more coaches attempting this Barcelona Lite type of football, and I think we will, then at least praise the ones who try something positive with it rather than those who make you wonder whether spending a few hours in B&Q at the weekend might actually be more fun than coming to watch the game. Rant over.
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