Monday, 27 January 2014

The Swansea View

Before Birmingham City's match against Swansea, I interviewed Steven Carroll, who has been a season ticket holder at Swansea since 1997/8. He is the editor of the fanzine, Swansea Oh Swansea’: Here, Steven gives his take on the club’s progress, the possession football philosophy, and why they still have Welsh sign posts in Wales…

Since promotion to the Premier League, you’ve had comfortable midtable finishes, played attractive football, won the League Cup and been on a European tour. The club has certainly come a long way…
You can say that again! My early years watching Swansea were pretty dreadful to be honest with not much to shout about but in 2003 when we nearly lost our Football League status, it proved to be a turning point. Since then we’ve been one of the biggest success stories you’re likely to see when you consider we’ve done it all without a rich benefactor.

You’re not in the best of form at the moment, with no league wins in eight. What has caused this?
Michel Vorm
Fixtures and injuries have played a part. In the last eight we’ve faced Everton, Chelsea, City, United and Spurs so we knew we’d be up against it in those games. The really frustrating game was Aston Villa away where we dominated from start to finish with 70% possession and still didn’t win. In terms of injuries we’ve been without Michel Vorm, Michu and Nathan Dyer for most of those games and in the last couple of weeks we’ve lost Jonathan De Guzman, Jose Canas and Jonjo Shelvey so we’re down to the bare bones in midfield. We’re due a change of luck.

You’re known to have a philosophy of possession football. Do you believe this is the way forward?
Yes it’s been the cornerstone of our success. Roberto Martinez started the philosophy in 2007 and since then we’ve appointed similar types of managers which works well because none of them like to make wholesale changes to the playing staff when they take over. Of course each manager has been a little different, Michael Laudrup for example likes his wide men to play more like inside forwards compared to Brendan Rodgers who prefers them to play as out and out wingers. But in short yes I do believe it’s the way forward.

If you’re a Welsh club, do you think you should be playing in Wales? If not, should Celtic and Rangers be moved to the English leagues?
Roberto Martinez
Haha. It’s fairly straightforward why we’re in the English leagues, we were invited in by the FA along with the other Welsh clubs as there wasn’t a league in Wales and the Football League was expanding and looking for clubs to join in 1920. I accept that if football started now we should really be in the Welsh league but as we’ve been in the English system for nearly 100 years we won’t be leaving any time soon thank God. With regards to Rangers and Celtic they should stay where they are, it would open a massive can of worms for other leagues across the world and which league would they start in?

Out of everyone you’ve seen wear the Swansea shirt, which players stand out in your mind?
From my early years Roger Freestone our record appearance holder and one of the greatest goalkeepers we’ve ever had. He turned down opportunities to play at a higher level because he didn’t want to move and in truth should have gone as he was a lot better than us but stayed loyal to the club. Lee Trundle’s another one, the most entertaining player without doubt and scored some of the best goals I’ve ever seen. From the current crop Leon Britton who’s been here over a decade barring six months at Sheffield United and of course Michu the “bargain of last season” as everyone calls him.

Your club is partially owned by the Swansea City Supporters Trust.  In what ways can a fans’ trust benefit a club?
Swansea Fans' Trust
The best thing is that as a trust we have 20% of shares in the club which entitles us to have a fan on the board of directors. That way any issues from the fans can be brought up at board meetings and dealt with that way. Also if a foreign investor wants to buy in, he knows the trust will have a say on the club and that’s likely to put people like that off coming to us which suits me fine as I love the fact that we have the trust and the rest of the directors are local businessmen who are supporters of the club.

You’re the editor of fanzine ‘Swansea Oh Swansea’. Has selling the printed copies of fanzines become more difficult in this age of social media and blogging?
It can be yes but there’s still a market for it. A lot of people still prefer to have a print version, especially if they’re going on a bus to an away game for example. Programmes are still popular so I think there’ll always be a market for it. I guess it’s important you have original content like interviews with ex players for example to keep people interested.

Random question - why do you bother investing in part-Welsh signs when virtually everyone in Wales knows English?!
Ask the Welsh Assembly! In parts of Wales some people barely speak English so I’m told although that’s not the case in the south. It’s to do with patriotism I presume and the Welsh language is important to us Welshmen. Even if all we ever do in Welsh is sing the National Anthem!

What would make a good second half of the season for your lot?
Survival in the Premier League, beating Cardiff as we were awful against them earlier in the season and progressing in Europe as we’re unlikely to qualify again. In the FA Cup all you can do is take it one game at a time and hope you don’t get the nightmare draw if you progress – Man City away!

Thanks for answering the questions. Finally, your score prediction?
We’ll win 1-2. It’ll be a good break for the players after our poor league run and we owe you one after earlier in the season. I wasn’t there that night thank God but I’m going Saturday so hopefully I’ll be a lucky omen!

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