Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Guaranteed to keep us all awake.
This Summer we've at least had the benefit of the Euro 2012 Finals, and Spain's victory over an ever valiant Italy brought to a close a genuinely decent Tournament.
For us, unsurprisingly, there were a lot more things going on.
Just 3 years ago, please think back, we had finished a creditable 7th in the Coca Cola Championship, after suffering (?) a season in which Paulo Sousa had made us defensively resilient for sure, but maybe at the expense of a little of the free flowing football first introduced by Roberto Martinez.
Just 18 months previously, of course, we'd had to suffer the Summer snaffling of RM from us to the Cloob of his dreams, Wigan Athletic AFC, and Sousa had been introduced to a trumpeting of "Class player, Continental, good contacts" etc., only for truth to pervade the fortuitous expectation.
Then, when Huw Jenkins pulled another rabbit out of a hat, the excellent Brendan Rodgers took us that last half mile - into the PL via the Play-offs, and then proceeded to keep us there, playing, along the way, some of the most delightful Football on view in the PL last Season, ending with a deserved 11th in the Division placement.
So here we go, again.
Having Huw Jenkins pull yet another Managerial success story is not a nailed on certainly, but the appointment of Michael Laudrup is at the very least enlightened, and longer term may prove even more beneficial.
This week, the Players reported back for Training for the current season, and just 2 days into the Official start, we Swans can reflect further on the Club's careful and significant forward planning when the signings of both Jose Manuel "Chico" Flores from Genoa for E2.3m and Jonathan de Guzman from Villareal on a season-long loan (with a view to buy).
This saw us address immediately the significant loss of Gylfi Sigurdsson ( to Tottenham), and Steven Caulker (returning to the same) with a replacement of players of equal (and maybe better) quality.
To see our Club perform on this stage is truly enlightening.
If you doubt the quality of our two recent imports, I recommend a listen to the estimable Sid Lowe, the Guardian's Spanish Football expert who says of Flores ".......at 2m Euros, this could be the signing of the season".
Meanwhile, Jonathan de Guzman, the Canadian born Dutch u-21 International promises to add the box to box flair and power of the recently departed and fondly remembered Ferrie Bodde, and the practical import of Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Welcome to Swansea City, both.
I've had a quiet couple of weeks, enjoying the Euro 2012 Championships in which Spain flourished, magnificently, I thought, but it's getting to that time of year when I'll be glad to get back to the reality of watching my team perform.
For us Swans, of course, the last few years have been nothing short of magnificent, culminating in our projection into the Premier League, and our proud and proffered status as not mere survivors, but competitors.
Can it be as good this season ?
Who knows, but what is immediately evident is that it won't be for lack of trying. One can never be certain in predicting the upcoming season, but the portends appear promising.
The official site posted this super report of the first day back at Training, which, for us fans is meat and drink. Have a read, take a look at the photos, and feel excited - we're in for another roller coaster ride and we wouldn't have it any different.
The fact that it's our second season in this most cruel of Leagues will see us have to repel a predictive volley of Media scrutiny which will start with claims that we've been "found out" and have to battle the "Second Season Syndrome" headlines almost guaranteed already.
We can do no more as a Club but to continue to play our football in the fashion to which we've been privileged, and to again put enough points on the board that will see the more fickle of the national press take a more analytic and less condemning (I told you so) type line.
Ah, we can but hope.
Along with the two early signings of Flores and de Guzman which seem to address immediate needs, I suspect there's a few more tweaks to come, both in "clearing the register" of faithful but fading stalwarts, and an injection of quality in advance of quantity.
Does one Matt Jarvis of quality add equal to the release of a Fede Bessone, Scott Donnelly, Stephen Dobbie trio.
Personally, I think it does.
The U-21 nature of this year's Reserve League will mean a lot more game time for players like Darnell Situ, Rory Donnelly and Gwion Edwards - players who are likely, if successful, to form an important part of our future.
Coincidentally, it seems to me, that what I've read about ML's preference for retaining and playing a 2 for 1 position squad balanced by Youth and development from within seems like eminent good sense - it is, after all, the approach adopted by the very best - from Barcelona to Man City even - and just because we are a smaller unit doesn't mean we're constrained from adopting very best practise.
Dare to dream.
Further lovely news received over the Summer has been the Clubs' commitment to develop an infrastructure that embraces Youth and Internal development ( at RTB) along with a first class upgrade of First Team facilities at Fairwood etc. Those plans, allied with controlled and phased Stadium Development seems to me to be the right way to ensuring that there is a LEGACY to be delivered to us as fans of our excellent club that has both relevance and significant impact long term.
Put it this way, if you like, - it's the proper way to "do football", and knocks the shady moves of very many Clubs nationwide to ride their fans for all their worth.
Newton Heath to the Cayman Islands via the New York Stock Exchange ??????
Do me a favour.
So, an exciting year in prospect, and I say hand on heart that it's another Season I intend to enjoy on this fantastic journey.
I'm back up and running, and would love you to join on what will prove to be another eye-opener.
Fancy coming with me??
Be really pleased if you'd read the regular blogs, and hopefully get as much pleasure from our performances as I do.
See you soon,and..........
Onward, Swansea City.