It’s always good to hear from Peter Thomas*, a Swansea City supporter who has shared articles from his own site with us before and after previous games between our clubs and now returns to answer the latest set of “Who are You?” questions. He has enormous respect for Sunderland and believes we will stay up. But he oozes enthusiasm for the football he sees from the Swans and, typically, sees our revival having to wait one more game …
Salut! Sunderland: An average rather than spectacular start to the season for Swansea so far, but you do look like a side that is now more or less established in the Premier. Is that how you see it?
I think the Europa League involvement has been more key than we’d assumed it would be. Despite a great European start, in the PL we’ve looked a little tired. Against Man Utd and Arsenal at home we switched off for key periods in the game (35m – 55m) and got stung. Against Liverpool at home we should have won but got a 2-2 draw despite some of our more ‘conspiracy theory’ fans criticising Agent Shelvey’s involvement (it was more cock-up). The away games at Palace and West Brom showed us at our best – fast, mobile, confident in possession and despite last weekend’s disappointing defeat to Saints it was a game we were probably the better side and could have won. So, all in all , a curate’s egg. As a long term SCFC fan I am not so foolish as to see us as ‘established’ in the PL. Some of our more recent converts may think that, but you know as well as I, in this Division, you are NOWHERE until you get to 40pts at least. We’ll see.
What is your minimum expectation from this season, in league and (of course) other competitions including Europa league, and how far do you think Swansea can go, given the gulf in resources that’s there for all to see in football?
I would love to think we could do as well as last year, finishing in the top half of the table and with a decent (FA) Cup run to boot. In Europe, if we get through the Group stages, we’ll have done well. The PL, as you state, rules all, simply because of the Financial Formula. I would love to see the “top four” expanded to provide a “top eight” of potential winners, and more clubs of both our ilks providing a genuinely competitive remaining environment. Given your recent decent performances against both ‘Pool and ManUre, I honestly believe this is achievable. Those smug BarStewards at the top of the division have had it coming for years – I’d LOVE clubs like ours to take them down a peg or two – and it might start to happen this year.
Are you surprised at how badly Sunderland have done or did you always suspect the Di Canio gamble would end in early tears?
My biggest surprise was how little time they gave him. Having hitched their star to his wagon last year (did they do due diligence?), one assumes they would have known what they were getting – combustible, heart on sleeve, confrontational, controversial management. So to see ES rip up the plan so soon was a genuine shock. Having said that, with Gus Poyet incoming, those who compare him as too similar to Di Canio are in, I think, for a pleasant mistake. He has, on the last two occasions, come close to being employed as OUR manager – and that’s because he does produce good teams playing good football – pleasant to watch and successful. I know it’s different in the PL, it’s harder and he lacks top flight experience, but I honestly believe he can make your club into a decent outfit . You are far, far better than Palace, Hull, Cardiff, Fulham, Norwich, Newcastle and several others for example. The board MUST give him the rest of the season, surely.
Michu is an obvious star. How is he doing so far this season, who else should be seen as your key players and where do you need strengthening?
He is making last year’s stellar season look like it can be repeated. Playing more in his ’10’ role as the support striker he and Bony’s early excursions have been encouraging, but still a work-in-progress. Wayne Routledge still varies from the sublime to the ridiculous game to game, and whilst Pablo Hernandez has been injured we’ve lacked a key cutting edge. Nathan Dyer can be explosive, but Roland Lamah as cover for the three wingers is struggling. Leon Britton (sublime) is getting older and Canas is still adjusting as his cover. Debate rages in the Swansea community over our creative MF’ers – is Shelvey the real deal? – does de Guzman create more than he gives away? – is Pozuelo ready yet? – can we even play Canas AND Britton since we can’t drop Michu ? – and on it goes.
At the back, we have Ash Williams, who’s a diamond but injured along with Chico ( a liability but a gem) covered by Amat (a young developing Spaniard) and an aging Gary Monk. At FB, Rangel, Davies and Taylor are excellent, Tiendalli’s not yet fit (missed a pre season). Vorm and Tremmel are both top class keepers.
Vasquez and Donnelly are VERY VERY young, can they cover adequately for Bony.
In January, I’d love to see us sign a decent CB who can’t get a game for his current first team, a winger who could play weekly, and game ready striker – ALL on Loan. Joleon Lescott, Matt Jarvis, and our recently departed Danny Graham would suit me (although I’d take David (Junior) Hoilett as a mixture of my second and third categories). Ah, well.
Who are the greatest players you have seen or wish you’d seen in Swansea colours and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?
The best several players to have played for the Club in my era are Ivor Allchurch for his skill and ability, Alan Curtis for his skill and ability and Ferrie Bodde for his skill and ability. I also have huge man-love for Miguel Michu (justly rewarded with his first Spanish cap this week), and Leon Britton, who if Leon Osman deserved a cap – and he did ( but I think MR Roy just got the wrong Leon) – deserved one even more. Both have lots of skill and ability – you can see it means a lot to me.
I find it hard to criticise anybody who’s given effort for us, but one or two come close. Perhaps next time … ??
What have been your own highs and lows as a fan?
The play off final win against Reading, the Capital One Cup final win against Bradford City, and the 2-0 PL win at Arsenal last season, when we passed the PL’s pass masters off the park and Michu scored two goals that showed how incongruously cool goalscorers can be – for the second, if he’d had a cigar on he couldn’t have looked more relaxed. As I jumped up six yards behind the net at the Emirates, the fire drill began. Lovely, lovely feeling.
Lows the nerves and anger of the Petty period . Still, we moved from being a club to being a CLUB. Football Fans Trusts are the way forward.
And do you ever miss life outside the Premier?
Strangely, I still get the occasional twang from all those missed visits made to Torquay, Bury, Rochdale etc.. We’ve all been there I suppose, and it’s usually in a week where Jack Wilshere has been “caught smoking” outside a nightclub, ot where Phil Bardsley is pictured burning £50 notes on a Casino floor, and I’m reminded graphically that we fans, ALL of us, pay for this too. Steven Caulker, now Cardiff’s CH, did exactly the same when on loan to us he “responded to a call of nature” in Wind St, a city centre throng of enjoyment.
We’ve drawn our last two games at your place and it’s been one win (for us) and one draw in the return games. Do you fancy this game will be a lot more comfortable for the Swans given our respective starts to the season?
I think ML will have us buzzing for this game, although I suspect Gus Poyet will have equally wound up your troops. I fancy us for a 2-1 win which would put us back on schedule, but I have no doubt that it’s gonna be doubly hard as a result of your managerial change, as your players will be desperate to give a good account of themselves. Each manager will have told the teams to forget the season so far and to go for the throat in the remaining quest for 90 odd points. This is where the season ‘proper’ begins.
Any current thoughts, other than as answered above, about Sunderland: club, fans, city, region?
I have a great deal of respect for your club, fans and city. Proper football people living in the real world. Always a pleasure to come to your excellent ground and I hope that you have a good visit to South Wales (but not THAT good, obviously).
Pob lwc, Iechud Da, a dewch I Gymru.
What will be this season’s top four, in order, who is going down and who do you tip for the cups?
Chelsea, Citeh, Arsenal, Tottenham.
Cardiff, Hull and Palace to perish.
Since we can’t win the Capital One, I’ve got to go for Birmingham (since they put us out, deservedly)
I’d love to see a Club from our rank win the FA Cup (as long as it’s not Stoke).
If our teams didn’t feature in your two little lists in response to the last question (be as brutal as you wish!) where will they finish?
I predict us for 12th and you for 14th, although I’d gladly swap places at season’s end. I suspect you would, too.
What most inspires you about modern football and what really appals?
The excitement of seeing a superb game at the top, top level. Sometimes I think fans have forgotten to enjoy, and most weekends are bloody great fun. The ‘bling’ involved in the Modern Game,the disconnect between players and Fans, players diving (“he’s entitled to go down there” – REALLY??, and bloody ‘Goal Music’ – so, so embarrassing and we are as guilty as anybody.
Club vs country. Wales in your case, of course, but which comes first and why? And does watching Gareth Bale excite you on patriotic grounds?
Club, every time. I’ve never been a great national team supporter, and I suppose it’s because it never seems quite as exciting or local, although I do love seeing Gareth Bale play so well, although I’d probably say it’s more on aesthetic than patriotic grounds.
Will you be at our game and what will be the score?
I’ll be in the Lower West G120 and any visitors from your end are welcome to a pint. We have an SCFC2 fans’ guestbook/website get together at the Globe pub pre-match from 12-2.30. I’ll be sure to send you the details (add them as a comment, Peter – I’ll be en route, slowly, France to the UK when this appears -ed).
.* Peter Thomas on himself: I’m 64, a retired teacher and a Swansea City fan since 1963. I write occasionally for SCFC2 and for Planet Swans, both Swansea City fans websites, and my own blog at pierre91inaday. My writings are less frequent than previously, but I can occasionally conjure up something half decent. Have a lovely weekend and a good season.
Interview: Colin Randall
Fancy leaving a comment? Not sure what you have to say fits this post? Go to the new feature – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.