Defeats in a south Wales derby will always provoke strong reactions. It’s the game we care about more than any other, and in truth we’ve been very spoilt in this fixture over the last few years and inevitably it was going to go the other way at some point.
I can accept that we will on occasions lose to that lot up the road, but what I can’t accept is in a manner like that. Just like in the previous game against Bristol City, our performance was pathetic. Cardiff have improved, but we’re starting from a very low bar with them, but we’ve got significantly worse in a short period. Chalk and cheese from our last gasp win at the same venue five months ago.
In his first interview after taking the job, Duff said “if you look at my previous teams, you’ll see we’re aggressive and in your face, we’ll go and press but we look to play football as well.”
Where on earth has any of this been since the season started? I’m not seeing aggression or pressing, and any moments of good football are minimal and come from a moment of individual quality. Such as Matt Grimes’ pass for Liam Cullen who set up Jerry Yates against Birmingham and Charlie Patino’s through ball for Cullen to score against Bristol City.
I have no idea what our game plan is, Duff wanted to sign players with pace as it was an area we were clearly lacking last term, yet the only one who’s particularly quick is Josh Ginnelly who didn’t start at Cardiff. We were wasteful in possession, even the ever dependable Grimes gave the ball away a lot. But when we did have the ball we didn’t know what to do with it, our lack of pace and movement prevented us from having options and inevitably lead to us losing the ball.
The fact that it took until the hour mark to have an effort on goal and until injury time to have one on target is simply unacceptable. I could pick holes with that first effort that shows we’re totally clueless going forward. Ginnelly played a pass forward that Jamie Paterson did well to pick up. He was in a great position to cross the ball into the box, yet there was no one in there. We only ended up having a shot because the clearance fell to Josh Tymon but less said about his shot the better.
We look like a team without any sort of plan. Russell Martin had his critics, rightly so to be fair, particularly when it came to the amount of bad goals we conceded, but you could always see what he was trying to do. He had an identity, a philosophy and there was a game plan. And in truth if he’d even been given a small amount of backing in January we surely would have finished inside the top six.
Duff has had significant backing, yes he lost a couple he would have liked to keep like Joel Piroe. But he’s been backed far more than Martin ever was. Yet we’ve had our worst start for over three decades and performances have arguably been even worse than results.
What worries me further is some of his comments and murmurings of issues behind the scenes. After yesterday’s loss he said “this is where you see the true characters at the club, the ones that stick together, the ones that don’t blame everyone else in the corridors”. This immediately tells us there’s disquiet at the club and he may well have already lost the dressing room. High profile former players behind the scenes have also privately expressed their concern that he’s the not right for the club.
I also don’t like the digs at Martin such as “We’re trying to change the way they play because last year was extreme in terms of the way they wanted to play”. Take some responsibility you clown, Martin has gone and you’ve had thirteen new players through the door, this is on you. This is extreme in terms of a side looking like they don’t know what they’re doing.
This football club has been successful when we’ve done things differently. Roberto Martinez is responsible for the Swansea way, and the managers we’ve appointed since then that have had similar principles are the one’s who’ve been the most successful like Rodgers, Laudrup and Potter. Those who’ve betrayed that DNA have not been popular and on the whole have not lasted long.
Garry Monk was successful initially, but it caught up with him quickly in his second season. The appointments that followed him in the Premier League era were also not disciples of the Swansea Way, none of them lasted long either.
We’re not a big club, so if we become like any other we will struggle to be successful as many others have bigger budgets and deeper pockets. Doing things differently made us unique, and ensured when a manager moved on and was replaced by someone with similar principles and philosophy the transition was seamless. They would want to work with the majority of the squad already in place too, you wouldn’t see large and expensive overhauls. Under Martin we were building something, Duff has completely dismantled it and set us back significantly in a short period of time.
I’m usually someone who advocates time for managers, but there are occasions where the man in the dugout is just the wrong fit and when that’s the case you need to admit you’ve made a mistake, own it and make a change before it gets worse. This is one such occasion, he’s a dead man walking, even a win in the next two only prolongs the agony. I’d be amazed if this turns around, he’s already lost the fans.
One final thought though, serious questions should be asked of Paul Watson our sporting director. A man who was responsible for appointing Duff and all the new signings, yet at Luton the recruitment was dealt with by Mick Harford. Are a lot of these players not up to the level? I’ve already alluded to the fact we barely signed any players with pace.
In an interview last week he was quizzed on the “Swansea Way” and said “it’s not changed ultimately”. If he believes that then he genuinely doesn’t have a clue about Swansea City and is also wrong for the club.
Can we trust him to appoint a manager who would suit us? I’m really not convinced. And remember who he worked with extensively at Luton? Nathan Jones, who was in the directors box at Legoland last night. Don’t you dare Mr Watson, don’t even think about it!