Peter Thomas, like most of the contributors to Salut! Sunderland, has been following his team since the time when we only had two black and white TV channels to choose from and Swansea City were Swansea Town. The Black Cats did his side a favour last Saturday on the East coast, but this weekend will be looking to reciprocate by throwing Hull City the same lifeline when The Swans come to the Stadium of Light. Peter is a fan who knows his club, knows his football and can identify with us and our current plight. (Interview – Colin Randall)
So it’s come to this. By the time this appears, you’ll be another step closer to or further from relegation. Your assessment of where you are now and what is likely to happen?
After an amazing Saturday, thanks in large part to you guys and a decent performance from us, we’re back in the ballgame. It’s tempting to think that we can do it now (stay up), but most Swans fans I know are more realistic – we’re hopeful but far from certain. We can veer from the sublime to the ridiculous not just from week to week but in the same game. If the attacking team we can be turns up, as against Everton last Saturday, we’ll give you a decent game and I believe we can win, but we can’t afford to be complacent. We’ll have to earn the victory and the same applies to the Home game against West Brom. At least it’s in our own hands now.
Bob Bradley was obviously a mistake, you seemed to get rid of good managers before him and now you have the impressive Paul Clement. What part has all this change played in your struggles?
The Managerial decisions have been crucial. The first mistake was to give Guidolin a 2 year contract in the off season. The club should have said “thank you very much for keeping us up last season” and Ciao Francesco. He was an obvious non-fit which the Board realised after our dreadful start. They then compounded the issue (no – made it worse) by employing Sideshow Bob ( I think that was the Americans Kaplan and Levein exerting their power) and by the time they realised he was burying us they at least did the right thing by jettisoning him. We were very lucky that someone of Paul Clement’s calibre was available and able to come in. The way he’s transformed the team (Club) is obvious not only by the football we’re playing again but his relationship with the players and we fans. He “gets” us as a Club.
The neutral looking on might be tempted to criticise the owners and chairman and wonder why the Swans Trust wasn’t able to make its view more loudly heard. Fair or misinformed?
For the full tale it’s worth going on to the Swans Trust website and reading Trust Chairman Phil Sumbler’s detailed exposition. Not only was the Trust kept completely in the dark and out of the loop but our esteemed Chairman Huw Jenkins and each and every member of the old board, have alienated a huge proportion of the fans – 70% perhaps by their actions. We all understand that their share sale made them millions but it could have been done such that it further strengthened the Club and Trust. Kaplan and Levein (the new owners) have spent the time since seeking to make amends through a greater involvement of the Trust (genuinely I believe) but this whole tale has a great deal further to run.Relegation would further muddy the waters and survival in the Premier won’t put off the reckoning forever..
Tell us who has been doing well for you and who really need a kick up the backside this season?
The amazingly gifted Gylfi Siggurdsson is the real gem in our team. Even if we survive I’ll be astonished if Everton or some such doesn’t offer a lot of money in the off season. Tottenham bought him once and sold him back to us for Ben Davies and a dog biscuit. And they say Daniel Levy is clever. If he’d been in their team this season they’d have won the League. Fernando Llorente is a “proper” footballer – no flash, trains hard, works hard, humble (a World Cup winner) and scores terrific goals. We love him. The Club, and Clement, were very successful in the January window. Tom Carroll is excellent as is the ageless Leon Britton’s successor, Martin Olsson who has fitted in wonderfully well and Jordan Ayew is proving that far from being big brother Andre’s lesser brother, he’s his equal. Plus we’ve got a decent keeper in Fabiansky. Then there’s Alfie Mawson, we’ll talk about him next, he’s already decent and could/should be very good going forward. I hate criticising our players because they are ALL genuine triers but whoever sanctioned the £15m purchase of Borja Baston (not because he’s poor but he’s just not proven or ready, he may be one day – the jury’s out) has some answering to do. That’s the sort of decision that can break a club like us.
And how crucial was the loss without adequate replacement of Ashley Williams?
It was a huge loss – he’d been the heart and soul of the club for six years and to start the year without a direct replacement was so foolish. Alfie Mawson was signed but Bradley changed the side so often he never got a decent run out till the New Year. Now he and Fernandes look a decent pair of CB’s. Van der Hoorn and Amat, the other CB’s, are squad players.
If worst came to worst, would you do a Newcastle or linger in the Championship – and what would be the state of fans’ morale?
I suspect we’d be unable to bounce straight back, although I do believe that whatever happens we’ll keep Paul Clement and that’s hugely important. If we were cherry picked we’ve got an Under 23 side that won its League this year (PL Reserve League 2) and got promoted to the top PL Reserve League, so with progress from some of them, judicious signings and decent coaching we’d be OK. The fans are fairly sanguine much like myself. We know our place in the grand scheme of things. The past six years since we got up to the PL have been a fabulous adventure, let’s see if we can have six more.
What about us: serial strugglers, finally unable to fight our way out of trouble. Did you see it coming?
I’m sorry to say I suspected you might struggle along with us. You’ve had many of the same problems – constant managerial (and hence player) turnover, boardroom unrest, an owner who seemed to almost lose interest and was maybe minded to sell. Worst of all, the previous 3/4 years’ struggles weighed heavily.
Any other thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city and region, Moyes, Borini?
I like Sunderland, both the city and the club. You’re like Fernando Llorente – you’re a “proper” football club supported through thick and thin by real people. Your ground and your training facility are first class and just like us, if you can get decent people running the show properly you’ll be successful. I think Moyes was badly scarred by his Old Trafford and Spanish experiences (he should never have gone to Spain) but I think he’s a decent man and manager. I think he’ll get it right, if allowed to. I’d have Borini back in a heartbeat, even now. When with us he played where Defoe does for you now and did really well.I think it depends on what sort of squad you can put together. I think it may take you a couple of seasons maximum but with your reputation and heft (you really ARE a big club) you surely will get it right.
Your best and worst moments as a Swansea supporter?
Two fairly recent moments stand out – being at Wembley when we beat Reading 4-2 to get into this madhouse (the Premier League) and at Wembley again for the 5-0 League Cup win against Bradord. Close second was beating Arsenal, Man Utd or Man City at the Liberty (any of those three). Worst moment was seeing Ferrie Bodde, our midfield genius, rupture and destroy his knee and career in an innocuous challenge against Birmingham City in the Championship. He was as good (some say better) as Gylfi is now.
And the best you’ve seen or wish you had seen in Swansea colours?
I’m old enough to have seen the great Ivor Allchurch (look it up, kids) and Alan Curtis and Robbie James were bloody good in the 80’s. (We’ll forgive you picking an ex Mag Peter – Ed)
Do you ever miss Vetch Field?
Not in the least. Romanticism be blowed, I can still remember the smell of the toilets .
Top four in order and bottom three?
Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Liverpool. Middlesbrough, Sunderland (sorry), Hull City
Diving: a dead issue as every team has its cheats or still worth trying to eradicate?
We Swansea fans sometimes think we don’t have enough (cheats, or cloggers, that is). Personally, I feel it’s time for the video ref for both penalties and offsides and I’d also convene a Monday panel that looks at every blatant dive and bans players for 3-4 games.I’m sure that would stop it. Marcus Rashford, I’m looking at YOU.
Best ref, worst ref?
Best Ref Michael Oliver. Worst Ref Mike Dean.<
One thing the authorities or Swansea should do to improve the lot of the ordinary fan?
Sell decent food and drink inside the ground at decent prices (how hard can that be?) instead of the corporate slop we currently get. Cap ticket prices and do away with the absurd gradations Cat A, Cat B, Cat C. Greedy nonsense.
Will you be at our game? What will be the score?
I can’t make it this weekend but our players have paid for the tickets for up to 3000 fans so I’m hoping a lot of our supporters can go. I have to say I think we’ll win 2-1
Finally: an update on who you are, what you’d do, your site, history of supporting the Swans.
Hi, I’m Peter Thomas and I sit in G120 in the Lower West Stand at the LIberty. I’m 67 yrs old and a Retired Secondary School Teacher. I saw my first Swans game when my Dad took me to the Double Decker in 1964 at the Vetch Field against Ipswich Town. I’ve been a supporter ever since and have been a ST holder for the past 10 yrs when I moved back to Llanelli (my home town, about 12 miles from Swansea).