Saturday December 31st 15.00
We’ve got a real humdinger for you here as bottom of the table Swansea host 12th placed Bournemouth. The Swans, in case you didn’t know, are in free fall. They have dispensed with the services of manager, Bob Bradley. The American coach managed two wins from his 11 games in charge, picking up eight points and conceding 29 goals along the way. Charges of favourtism against the American owners clouded Bradley’s appointment from the start. This may or may not be unfair but what is sure is that for a man with no BPL experience to be expected hit the ground running with a team who could barely crawl was optimistic in the extreme.
Why create dreams when there are nightmares to be made
For what it’s worth, this column thought that the previous manager, Frances Guidolin, should have been given more time but with the summer loss of defensive lynchpin Ashley Williams to Everton, they may have been doomed from the off. One thing we can say is that the collapse of Swansea as a football force both on and off the field has been remarkable. Just a couple of short years ago, they were being hailed as the model of a well-run club having assiduously worked their way up from the lower tiers of English football to become a permanent feature of the BPL. Or so we thought.
Pass the crown
In a strange kind of way, it seems as if Bournemouth have taken Swansea’s mantle as model club. Granted, they have an extremely wealthy owner but in other respects – spending wisely (for the most part), considered short-to-long term planning, positive football, faith in a young manager etc – they are similar to what Swansea once were. Consistency is the key, a trait that Swansea have seemingly abandoned.
Chomping at the bit
We previewed Bournemouth’s last match against Chelsea and assumed that they would lose but would also give a good account of themselves. To no-one’s great surprise, this came to pass and, as unsurprising as the result might have been to Eddie Howe, he will be chomping at the bit for some flesh to feed to his charges and the Swans look like they are ready to be served. Should they play with control and purpose we’ve often seen them display, this match should be Bournemouth’s to lose.
The great imponderable here lies in the response of the Swansea players to the sacking of their manager. Will it inspire them to play with some heart in the hope of impressing whatever poor sod gets the manager’s job (or to get a move away) or are their heads so dropped that grass is tickling their nose? It’s difficult to tell how they will react but this column doesn’t think that anything they do at the moment will be enough to stop Bournemouth claiming all three points. The best price for a Bournemouth win is a tasty 13/8 from BetFair.