Friday, 8 November 2013

The Psychology of being a fan.

We ( Swansea City FC) have  been resplendent in our PL occupation of the past couple of years, and at the end of each subsequent period of time we've seen our progress year on year demonstrably evidenced by our final position and the results that mirrored it.

Still, whilst I'd accept that we've made (and continue to make) progress, the very gist of the here-and-now nature of modern football existence demands that our perception is on the immediate (witness the fevered response to our 1-1 draw away at Kuban midweek) , and limits our longer term ideas on where we may, or may not, end up at the Season's close.

Hey, this is all part of our being modern football fans!

The days of sober and considered appreciation/reflection are long gone. In an age where the immediacy of social communication is defined by whomsoever gets the first significant Tweet live onto the Web or Website, the downside of that is that the doom-mongers and nay-sayers have an easily exploitative chance to "get their retaliation  in first".

As the Lions and McBride learned early and to their cost, a tad of negative will usually swamp the more measured response of the positive. The corollary, of course, is that they didn't have the option of a convenient "ignore" button, either physically or metaphorically . We do. And I'd urge those seeking a reasoned evaluation to excercise their choice with a degree of fastidiousness.

Use it or lose it as we say - otherwise, please excercise the normal fans prerogative of analysis by rationality.

Most of us will have realised that when, on a discussion board, the critics come out to play they are usually vehemently vocal on what's gone wrong, but what limits their arguments is that you'll find it very hard to spot what they might suggest as an alternative.

Let me give you an example of which we're all significantly aware.

My own team, Swansea City, were this week involved in a 1-1 draw away at the Russian PL team Kuban Krasnodar in the Europa Cup, and conceded a last minute equaliser to mirror the performance at home against the same team when the same thing happened.

Had you only seen the same information reported in your daily newspaper/ radio station etc you might well have thought - bloody hell, how did we let that happen ??

My suggestion is that there were a great deal of differing circumstances - and before going on to make predictable and braying long term value judgements, it might be worth investigating the multifarious differing circumstances.

Having lived through our first couple of seasons in this most unforgiving of Divisions with a degree of equanimity and enjoyment, and seen us, no less, win our first major trophy (the Capital One Cup) and thus qualify to play this (amongst others) European ties, you'd be right in assuming that I'm a pretty happy pixie in my appreciation of SCFC's performance.

I've been a fan since 1963, and I'm aware of our history, and I can honestly say that this club has never, ever, seen better times.

That's NOT to say that I don't ever offer an opinion that's critical of the Club/Team in some way. I regularly do and I'll be happy to offer those opinions further down so that they can be considered and either rejected/shot down by you, my fellow fans, or agreed with and maybe developed.

In considering this season in comparison to the last 2 I feel it's fair to say that this year has brought it's share of frustrations.

Given our Europa League commitment, I'm delighted by our negotiating our way through 2 testing ties to get into the Group Stage and our performances in same thus far.

Beating Valencia 3-0 away was a classy, elegant performance against a long established La Liga "big club". To grind out a win against St Gallen at home, and to achieve at least parity against Kuban both home and away shows resilience (even if we could / should have won both ties) so to sit on 8pts and in second in the group with 2 to play is no mean feat.

Yes, we could have done better.

YES, also, it could have gone worse.

Doubters, please get real, we're playing in European competition - not Barnet FC and Kidderminster as we've done in the recent past.

In the PL it's fair to say we've veered from the sublime to the ridiculous.

From an unsurprising (predictably) no show against last year's champions MU, we stumbled through a loss to the high flying Gunners at home and what can be said is what most of us felt and was evident from both performances - we really COULD have got at both (as has been evidenced in previous home games against the same opposition ) and made it BLOODY HARDER for them to win.

Against Liverpool at Home we spent half the game in shadow and half the game tearing them apart to get a 2-2 draw.

West Ham did what West Ham do under "Big Sam" - grind out a point, and Sunderland capitulated when we turned up the heat properly.

Away from home we've had the desperately disappointing display at WH Lane where we let ourselves down - the deserved victories at West Brom and Palace where we put teams in similar positions as us to the sword, and the suicidal foolishness of outplaying the PL's buzzing team, Southampton, to lose a game 2-0 that we should have won.

Mixed in there of course, were two of our most disappointing performances of all - the loss to Birmingham in the Carling One Cup (we were sorry defenders) and the stuttering, stumbling loss to a limited Cardiff City where we seemed to me to settle after about 25m for a 0-0 draw. From that moment on I thought we were doomed, and Steven Caulker on 60 odd minutes confirmed the same.

So, you'll be asking yourself, where do we go from here?

Looking at our our fixtures from here to Xmas, it seems to me that we have a far better run possible than we've had thus far. 

This is how it goes up until the new year........
Swansea V Stoke : Sun 10 Nov     16:10    
Fulham V Swansea : Sat 23 Nov     15:00         
Swansea V Valencia CF : Thu 28 Nov 20.00    
Man City V Swansea : Sun 1 Dec 16:10    
Swansea V Newcastle : Wed 4 Dec 19:45        
Swansea V Hull : Mon 9 Dec 20:00    
FC St Gallen V Swansea : Thu 12 Dec 18:00        
Norwich V Swansea : Sun 15 Dec 13:30        
Swansea V Everton : Sun 22 Dec 16:00        
Chelsea V Swansea : Thu 26 Dec 15:00        
Aston Villa V Swansea : Sat 28 Dec 15:00 

When I compare these fixtures against those we've had thus far it seems to me unfair that I say anything other than this - this is what it's like in this League and in this situation.

No game is easy anymore , and Michael Laudrup is more aware than all of we "Armchair Managers" on the Psychology involved in approaching such fixtures.

After all's said and done, Huw Jenkins and the Board have done us proud in employing a succession of Managers who've done us justice in taking us to this, our best ever position.

That doesn't mean that we can't comment, constructively criticise, moan, groan and just occasionally throw our toys out of the pram.

Overall, though, what we MUST DO is support.

That's what real fans do.

Swansea City. 

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