May 18 2013 Latest news:
Robin Sainty, INCSC chairman
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Where is it all going to end? A season that started with a mixture of hope and trepidation just seems to be going from one high to another at the moment, and this week City have the chance to put themselves one game away from a Wembley appearance.
No one would bet against them on current form, although injuries may be a factor.
All week in the lead-up to the game at the Liberty Stadium my head was telling me that a point would be a great achievement, although my heart always believes that this remarkable squad might do something special.
More importantly, they believe it too, and that self-belief, after the setback at Sunderland, is once again growing game by game.
Swansea are a fantastic passing side, as we are constantly reminded by the media, but instead of sitting back and admiring them, like most visiting teams, City got in their faces and refused to let them dictate the pattern of the game.
While I admire Swansea’s quality on the ball I’ve always been suspicious of how much they are prepared to battle when things go against them.
Basically, they don’t appear to have a Plan B, and that is not a good situation to be in against City at present.
Lambert’s team utilises a number of different formations, often switching from one to the other in mid game, as they did at the Liberty, with 4-4-2 giving way to the diamond. The problems for an opposing manager don’t stop there, though, because once you identify the system you still have to work out how to mark individuals in a fluid formation, and this is a key to City’s success.
On Saturday, while David Fox anchored the midfield throughout, the other three players in the unit switched around almost at will, with Andrew Surman moving between central and wide positions, and Elliott Bennett and Anthony Pilkington swapping flanks or making central runs, as Bennett did superbly to set up the third goal. This sort of interchange makes marking a nightmare.
Bear in mind also that this was achieved despite Paul Lambert once again having to reshuffle his defence in mid game.
Not only that, having started Elliott Ward, who has only played part of one reserve game all season, he then brought on Leon Barnett, who has been the invisible man in recent weeks, without us missing a beat.
There are simply no weak links in this squad.
However, it’s one thing to have brought in lots of good players, it’s another to keep them all happy, motivated and ready to contribute –and that is probably Lambert’s greatest achievement.
While the players have deservedly received plaudits from all quarters, huge praise is due to the fans who once again braved distance and weather to sing their hearts out for the team.
There is no better feeling than walking away from someone else’s ground with three points in the bag, and the contribution of the fans in getting those points shouldn’t be underestimated.
It certainly isn’t by Paul Lambert and the players. Watching the game via a flickering Internet stream the only singing I could hear came from the Yellow Army. It is truly exceptional support.
Unfortunately, I shall miss the Leicester game as I’m off to Tenerife for a bit of winter sun, but I will be taking my full collection of City leisurewear in case I run into the Swansea squad who are apparently also going to be over there.
Consequently my thoughts are partly turning to the next league game, and could there be a better time to entertain Manchester United, the only other team to win at Swansea this season?