Swansea Who Are You?: hoping to avoid a Chelsea repeat

Malcolm Dawson writes…..before his sojourn in the sun, M Salut set up an interview with Swansea fan Scott Mackay, who despite the Caledonian sounding name is as Welsh as Lars Knutsen is Mackem. He runs a good website too – www.theswanseaway.co.uk. Scott took time out of his busy schedule to answer all M Salut’s questions and they make for good reading. Like many of our WAY contributors though, he’s never ventured up to our ground so I suggest that next season he makes the long journey from the valleys and we’ll introduce him to the delights of pre match ham and pease pudding stotties. Now there’s an offer you surely can’t refuse.

Jake has ways of making them talk
Jake has ways of making them talk

Should Sunderland take hope from your 5-0 defeat at home to Chelsea or was it just a blip, one of those days that tell you nothing about the bigger picture?

I wouldn’t read too much into it. We had a completely thrown-together midfield and just about everything that went wrong did. Sigurdsson at defensive midfield and Nelson Oliveira (a striker) at attacking midfield would always be a brave decision, but with Chelsea the opponents I’m amazed we put out the team we did. With first-team regulars slowly returning to the side we should put up a much better fist of things this time out.

At least our Ki wasn’t there to share the collective guilt. How has he been for you?

Brilliant. Some would even say he’s been a “key” player for us. Have you missed those puns? No? Tough. Honestly though, he’s arguably been our player of the season – I named him as such when pushed the other day and I stand by it. Good in the tackle, improved in attack and generally immaculate in possession, he has the potential to be a big, big player for us. I was very, very glad we chose not to let you guys keep him on a permanent basis.

Wilfried Bony’s departure was the standout business for the Swans in the January transfer market – are you happy with your business in general?

I think we did well. Naughton is almost definitely better than any of our other right-back options, Matty Grimes is a very talented young midfielder, Nelson Oliveira is a bit of a wildcard we haven’t really seen yet, but Jack Cork is an inspired signing for £3million. I was excited when we were first linked with him and for the money I don’t think you’ll get a better central midfielder. It took a long time but ultimately we got our man. All of these deals likely total around £10million so we’re still massively up on the sale of Wilf.

Gomis looked like he was off for a while but seems to have decided to stay – for want of a better offer in my opinion. Hopefully he kicks on and shows some ability to match his ego.

Where do you think Swansea are just now – top 10 certs, midfield comfort or vulnerable to a descent towards the relegation zone?

Unanimity: from the Facebook page of a previous Swansea interviewee, Jim White
Unanimity: from the Facebook page of a previous Swansea interviewee, Jim White

I’d say midfield comfort, as strange as it seems to say it with this many games left. Another two wins and we’d be all but mathematically safe, and with some winnable games on the horizon I can’t foresee any catastrophes at this stage. You never know obviously but nine clean sheets shows we’re hard to score against, and if we can adapt to Gomis’ strengths like he eventually managed with Bony we may still surprise a few people yet.

Other Swansea fans appearing in our Who are You? series have extolled the virtues of the ownership arrangement giving supporters a voice. That would naturally be a Swans Trust view but how do you see it?

It’s hard to see it any other way in all honesty. I only wish the Supporters’ Trust had a higher percentage of the club – we’ve seen recent talk of American investment into the club in exchange for a 30% stake (for the tune of £30million) but there’s lots of resistance to the idea, including from myself. I don’t see the point in changing a model which has brought us this far if the same finance can be raised over the course of a few years, without having to take on any kind of debt or sacrifice a percentage of the clubs’ shares. There’s a meeting called for Trust members later this month which I’ll be attending, and hopefully we’ll know something more by then.

And after the high-profile managers you’ve had, is Garry Monk the man to take you forward?

To be honest the only high-profile managers we’ve had have been Paolo Sousa, who oversaw a solidly unspectacular year inbetween Martinez & Rodgers, and Laudrup, who led us to our first ever major trophy before departing under a cloud a year later. We gave Martinez his break in management and we gave Rodgers a chance when he didn’t seem to have one forthcoming from anywhere else, and they were able to use the club as a platform on which to develop their footballing ideologies.

I see no reason why Monk can’t do the same. He’s had a footballing education which can’t be matched by many. Having played (and captained the side) in all four divisions, plus learning first hand from a succession of bosses who are now considered top, top coaches it’s easy to believe Monk can go from strength to strength. People seem to forget he’s only 34. How many bosses his age have overseen a start to a Premier League season like the one we enjoyed, and maintained it throughout out the season? Not many, I’m sure!

Do you miss Cardiff in the Premier? For that matter, do you miss Vetch Field?

Yes and yes. I do genuinely feel sorry for Cardiff, as mentioned I love the fact we’re now in part owned by the Supporters Trust and they are at the other end of the scale, completely at the beck and call of a maniacal owner. Thankfully there seems to have been a bit of give in his running of the club of late, but they’re having a tough time of it.

As for the Vetch, I know it’s mostly nostalgia but after such a rapid rise I’m currently really struggling with the whole “package” the Premier League has become. I miss terraces, I miss being able to stand with friends and the longer we’re in the Premier League the more I seem to feel that way. Fingers crossed, one day the safe standing campaign will gather enough momentum to be seriously considered.

Tell us the best and worst moments you’ve had as a Swansea supporter.

Best: Staying up against Hull to avoid relegation to the conference in May 2003. James Thomas scored a hat-trick (Youtube it – it was berserk) to help us to a 4-2 win over already-promoted Hull, who needed to win to guarantee the league title, in front of a packed Vetch with over 10,000 fans crammed into the crumbling stadium. A really, really special moment, and a mix of emotions I don’t think I’ll ever experience again.

The playoff final was alright, too. And winning the League Cup! As mentioned though I’ve got a bit of a problem with this whole “modern football” thing, and as soon as the final whistle had gone in our League Cup triumph over Bradford we were subject to the Black Eyed Peas blasting out of the Wembley PA to the point where I couldn’t really hear – well, anything else. It seemed very strange to me, but perhaps that’s what people want these days. It’s sad if that’s the case.

And who are the greatest players you’ve seen, or wish you’d been around to see, in Swansea colours?

Lee Trundle was so, so much fun to watch in League Two. There was a spell where he was just completely mocking defences, and I do feel privileged to have seen him rip it up in the lower leagues.

Ferrie Bodde was a player with massive ability and potential, but sadly his knee deteriorated to the point where he had to retire early after a series of setbacks. He was another who was playing way above the level we were at, and it is such a shame he missed out on our subsequent promotion to the Premier League.

If I had to pick though I’d go with Alan Curtis, even though his heyday was before my time. I saw him in Roger Freestone’s testimonial at the Vetch years ago, and he must have been around forty if not a bit older, but that didn’t stop him ripping Mark Delaney (the then-Wales & Aston Villa right-back) every time he got him one-on-one. I’d have loved to see him play in his prime.

Which players should have been allowed nowhere near the club?

Hmm. Leon Knight maybe? In fairness he scored a hat-trick on his debut and in terms of football he didn’t let us down, he’s just a mentalist. I’m very glad Chico has left, thinking about it, so I’ll say him. Did well for a while but overall he garnered more negative attention than positive.

Name this season’s top four in order. And who is going down?

Chelsea. Man City. Arsenal. Tottenham. As for the drop, I was going with WBA but then they appointed Pulis, so I’ll go with Burnley, Leicester & QPR.

If not mentioned, where will our clubs finish?

I think we’ll finish around where we are now, perhaps as low as 12th or 13th. Given our start to the season below that would be disappointing. I can see Sunderland a place or two below us, so perhaps 14th or 15th.

Your thoughts on Sunderland: the club, the fans, the city and region, Gus Poyet ….

Gus Poyet strikes me as the kind of manager who is loads of fun if he isn’t your manager. Great to watch from a distance, but I can’t say I particularly fancy him down here, even if he does try and get his sides playing football which would seem to make it a good fit.

As for the club/region, I’ve never ventured to your area of the world so can’t pass comment. I’ve always assumed there’s a lot of similarities between areas of the North East and South Wales though with a lot of industrial history, mining, sailing and whatnot.

Diving: so prevalent we may as well give up and write it into the coaching manuals? If still worth fighting, how do we do it?

Actual, serious, not-taking-the-piss-with-it’s-lack-of-consistency punishment. Retrospective for a start, plus club fines if someone is found to be guilty. Monk has said the Swans fine players they feel are guilty of simulation – based on some of the incidents we’re still seeing this season I doubt that’s the case at all Premier League clubs.

Club versus country: how important is Wales, the national side, to you?

I love to see Wales do well, but it’s a strange one here as I grew up playing rugby as my first sport – as almost everyone in Wales undoubtedly does. The national football side went through a purple patch under Mark Hughes about a decade ago, almost qualifying for a major tournament for only the second time in our history, but sadly we lost to a Russia team who fielded a player (Titov) who’d previously failed a drugs test. Were they thrown out? Were they hell. It’s not like he got the assist for the goal or anything… oh.

Ramble over, enthusiasm for the national side has waned and the FAW have to take a share of the blame for that. In fairness to them they’ve been trying hard of late and have done some excellent work in marketing recent fixtures. Hopefully that continues and we can once again get to the point where we are filling the Millenium Stadium for football as well as rugby.

Will you be at our game? What will be the score?

Sadly I’m working this weekend so had to make an executive decision to miss the game. Only the second one I’ve missed at home so far in 14/15, hopefully it won’t go like the last one I couldn’t get to (Chelsea the other week…).

Finally, a paragraph or two about you, what you do, your site (with link) and your history of Swansea support

After becoming fed up of a lot of the general media coverage you see I decided to start my own blog www.theswanseaway.co.uk about the Swans around two years ago, and it’s gone well. We now have a great team of writers and won best sports blog in Wales last year (easily the most auspicious blog award in Wales), and I’ve got some interesting plans for the next six months or so, which hopefully will see us go from strength to strength.

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Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off
Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off

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