A Fan's View: Swansea 3 Albion 0
By Site Editor
Updated Sunday, 18th September 2011
SussexBaggie gives his view on Albion's defeat
What an absolute shambles. I normally try and remain positive, even after such a disappointing defeat, but the manner of our performance and the lack of effort the players seemed to show made this the worst Albion performance I have seen for a very long time.
I’m sure a round trip of 500 miles and a journey home which took four-and-a-half hours contributed to this view, but it was simply unacceptable.
Roy Hodgson persisted with the 4-4-2 formation which had seen us pick up the three points at Norwich City, despite producing a below-par performance at Carrow Road.
The only changes he made to the side saw Craig Dawson replace the suspended Gabriel Tamas and, to the surprise of many Albion fans, James Morrison returned to the starting line-up in place of Graham Dorrans.
Hodgson threw another surprise in his squad selection by choosing to name Marc-Antoine Fortune on the bench instead of Somen Tchoyi.
Before the game, a minutes silence was observed to remember the four miners who had died in Swansea on Friday. Unfortunately, two or three Albion fans chose to interrupt this for some reason. This has led to some reports criticising our whole fan base at the Liberty Stadium, which is totally unjustified. The vast majority of Albion fans are just as disgusted as the Swansea fans are at the actions of a very small minority of our supporters, with us feeling ashamed to be associated with them after yesterday.
From the first minute, we were second-best all over the pitch. The Swansea City players played a very attractive passing game, which opened us up repeatedly in the opening few minutes.
The only surprise was that it took them until the 11th minute to take the lead. Scott Sinclair scored the goal from the penalty spot, after Paul Scharner had made an unnecessary and clumsy challenge in the penalty area on Joe Allen.
We nearly got back into the game about ten minutes later when a slip in the Swansea defence gave Shane Long a chance from just inside the penalty area. Unfortunately, the former Reading striker sent his effort comfortably over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, we were punished for this miss when Swansea were allowed two free headers from a corner, the second of which Leroy Lita powered past Ben Foster from ten yards.
The closest we came to scoring in the first half came not long before the break, when Long saw a powerful shot well saved by Michael Vorm in the Swansea goal.
Hodgson responded to the most inept first-half performance since he joined the club by replacing Jerome Thomas with Chris Brunt. However, he sprung another surprise when he placed Youssouf Mulumbu, who had been the only player to show any kind of desire in the first half, with Graham Dorrans, when Scharner had been absolutely woeful throughout the first 45 minutes.
The first two or three minutes of the second half saw us string together more passes than we had managed at any point during the first half.
However, we then shot ourselves in the foot by conceding a third goal to ensure that we would be leaving Wales empty-handed. Lita won an aerial challenge against Olsson, flicking the ball on for Nathan Dyer to beat Foster with a low finish at his near post.
The game was over at this point, and Swansea began to play the kind of free-flowing football which will undoubtedly see them lauded by plenty of pundits this season. They must have enjoyed at least 70% of the possession for the remaining 40 minutes or so, with most of our players barely breaking out of a jog to try and close them down.
In truth, we could have snatched a late consolation goal when Odemwingie saw two powerful efforts from a tight angle on the right-hand side kept out, and Vorm made another fine save to deny a Long header as we approached injury-time. Earlier in the half, Brunt also had a looping header disallowed for offside.
However, the only real point of interest in the closing stages saw Swansea left-back Neil Taylor stretchered off with a serious-looking head injury after a clash of heads in an honest challenge with Odemwingie. Unfortunately, the home fans did not think this was the case and seemed to be accusing Odemwingie of deliberately trying to injure their player, which was clearly not the case.
After nine minutes of injury-time, the final whistle sounded to fully-deserved boos from the Albion fans who had decided to stay till the end of the game rather than leave early as plenty seemed to do.
I can’t remember the last time I felt as bad as I did yesterday when leaving an Albion game. We were simply woeful, although Swansea do deserve some credit for the way they played.
Defensively, we were absolutely shocking. Craig Dawson was not directly at fault for any of the goals we conceded on his Premier League debut, but Jonas Olsson was uncharacteristically poor, and both Steven Reid and Nicky Shorey were abysmal.
In midfield, we were totally inept. Youssouf Mulumbu was the only midfielder to play reasonably well, yet he was substituted at half-time. James Morrison was ineffective, not for the first time this season. Paul Scharner and Jerome Thomas were both poor, playing as though they simply did not care what the result was.
Up front Peter Odemwingie occasionally looked dangerous due to his pace and movement. Shane Long, on the other hand, was anonymous for much of the game. You could count on one hand the number of runs he made for the player in possession, although he did look as though he was carrying an injury during the second half.
It is clear that changes are needed to our formation and the personnel within our team if we are to get out of the slump we currently find ourselves in performance-wise. How Morrison can continue to be played ahead of Dorrans is simply unacceptable, especially considering Dorrans’ reasonable performance at Norwich City last weekend.
Scharner is another player who should not continue to be played, as his lack of mobility cost us dear yesterday. He won very few aerial challenges and was second to every loose ball on the pitch, despite the players he was coming up against having very little Premier League experience.
For whatever reason, Thomas seems to have lost the attacking intent which made him such a threat in The Championship and during the opening few months of last season. When you add this to the fact that he contributes very little defensively, I think it is now too risky to continue playing him.
We have got to stop playing 4-4-2 now, as we saw yesterday that we simply don’t have the players to play the formation effectively. We have the greatest strength in depth within our squad in midfield, so why play only four of them, when at least two of them simply don’t deserve to be in the side?
I really fear for our chances of pushing on this season if we don’t revert back to the 4-5-1 formation which served us so well last season. We have got four games which we should be looking to take points from coming up and if we fail to do so, I think we could be in big trouble.
However, I remain confident that Roy Hodgson is the man to turn this run of poor form around. A manager with 36 years of experience will know that yesterday’s performance was simply not good enough, so I would expect him to sort it out before the Carling Cup game at Everton on Wednesday, where the fringe players will hopefully produce a decent performance and rival those players in the first team who were simply not good enough yesterday.