Swansea City fans of prolonged existence are mass immunised against the twin viruses of disappointment and frustration. We seldom hit the deck coughing droplets of expletive reaction. That is our way. This doesn’t mean that we don’t carry old internal scars that inflame and wish to burst, Alien-like, from our heaving chest cavities.
Take last Sunday’s abhorrent surrender against Cardiff City, and the double capitulation against Kuban Krasnodor in the Europa League. These games displayed what could be a frightening epitaph to our dictum of exciting football in a suave stylee. In other words the ‘Swansealona’ name bandied about like a baby’s head-wetting celebration appears to have packed its sophisticated case and disappeared up a faux-continental backside that may never have existed at all. Anyone in the city giving their child that moniker or branded with a tattooist’s ink should look away now.
I recently wrote about how our stiff-backed yeomen of yesteryear –probably with 20 Rothmans tucked into their socks- would eviscerate any advancing foe. Admittedly the sight of moustachioed rhinos digging fortified lines in the turf and booting everything skywards wasn’t exactly an appetising formula. We needed to migrate metaphorically and culturally from deep fried turds and communal baths of wintergreen to cordon bleu and light cascades of Evian. However in getting to that apex of we appear to have lost something on the way, and if the police and public did a fingertip search of the Swansea plateaux, they might just come up with that missing element -and name it ‘Passion’.
The dreadfully inert second halves against Cardiff and Kuban encapsulate this loss. Distressing parades of hebetude, suggestive of a wide malaise throughout the squad. Compare our response to Cardiff going a goal up, with Kuban’s riposte to being behind. Where can we point the finger? How about The Four Horsemen of the Laconic?
Admittedly a man of great articulation and skill. But the demeanour is always suggestive of a shrug-shouldered lapse Buddhist, still holding onto some karmic beliefs and therefore acceptant of life setbacks as a blip on the path to Nirvana. Well, I don’t want Kwai Chang Cain. I want Bruce Lee. I don’t want a shiny pebble gently snatched from an old monk’s hand. I want someone to rip that monk’s arm off & set about the temple with the haemorrhaging stump.
2. The Dressing Room
Is there a possibility that the coaching team can no longer motivate the camp? Rumours of unrest abound; but then that’s always a cheap way out when things are not running as planned. However, the recent 2nd half displays fulfil a personal hypothesis that they must be administrating hypnotics to the players’ half-time cuppa and playing low-key Chilean pan-pipe lift music, rather than firing blowdarts of adrenaline and crushing their tympanic membranes with Napalm Death.
The consensus is of master agents directing a flowing minimalist orchestra of disgorging notes from heaven; quietly rendering opponents into mechanised offal. While the Carling Cup was a superb example of such majesty; when faced with adversity we appear to recoil like slug antenna in a salt storm. Cast your gaze into the dugout. What do you see in response? Opposition managers ranting and pacing, their temporal lobes appearing to prolapse with anger. Our technical area is as barren as a Chernobyl pleasure park, with Laudrup, Curtis, etc. as motionless as the mummies of Guanajuato.
Yes, that word again. Something seems to be missing. Possibly for all the reasons listed above. But it just feels that the players and management don’t care. Even in the awful dark ages of Cork and Hollins there was seemingly some intensity, some devotion, some affinity with the honest working-class people who are prepared to endure debt and sacrifice to support this wonderful football team. The pithy milquetoast ambience of our recent games lends to a theory that Swansea is a shop window or an easy cash-cow for agents and players who’d much rather be strutting their Range Rovers & stupid overpriced headphones in more cosmopolitan environs than a south Wales coastal city. But don’t let such behaviours daub everyone with the same bog brush of inertia: look at one of the richest players in the world, Bayern’s Franck Ribery. This man would climb inside a piñata of razor wire and allow the opposition to beat him with pikes if it meant victory. Come to think of it, looking at him, he might just have done this for a bet.
And while the board have created an unthinkable wonderland, they cannot be forever hermetically sealed from criticism. Signing Wilfried Bony was a folly to compare with the Millennium Dome or the BBC renewing Miranda’s contract. Paying £12m for someone who must have time-travelled from Woodstock (considering the amount of time he spends on his backside in a field) sticks in the gnarled craw of someone who once brought his own paint to help spruce up the hording panels on the Vetch Field North Bank. One suggests naivety in this context, possibly desperation, to hang onto Laudrup after the Carling Cup success. But this must surely question universal judgment.
It’s a familiar dichotomy, but one can lick a finger and test the prevailing winds. And on this wind carries our hopes and dreams, but lately some very sleepless nights.