Norwich City will hope actions talk louder than words
If talking a good game counted for anything, then Swansea City would already have three points in the bag from Saturday’s televised Championship clash with fellow promotion contenders Norwich City.
Not a day has passed since the 2-1 defeat at relegation-threatened Preston without one or other of the Swans’ key men forecasting that things will be much better against the Canaries.
Brendan Rodgers’ side, who slipped to fourth place by losing at Deepdale and trail City by four points with seven games to go, will take comfort from two factors. They have won more head-to-head games between the Championship’s current top seven than any of their rivals – though it must be said that they were beaten at both Queens Park Rangers and Norwich, and lost at home to Cardiff – and they have conceded just nine goals in 19 home games.
But whether they can justify their own pre-match confidence against a team beaten only twice in 25 league games, only Saturday’s 90 minutes will tell.
Rodgers has called on his players to recapture their “ruthless simplicity” to stay in contention for automatic promotion.
He said this week: “I felt for the supporters after Preston. We had a wonderful turn-out up there and we didn’t give them the result they wanted.
“But they can rest assured that our motivation will be renewed for Norwich. We will get the smile back on the players’ faces and then we will look to win the game.
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“Some of our performances this season, especially at home, have been magnificent.”
His players have not been slow to echo that view and endorse Swansea’s promotion credentials.
After finishing eighth, then seventh, in the Championship in the past two seasons, goalkeeper Dorus De Vries is as keen as anyone not to miss out again.
“We have fallen just short in the last few seasons – it was difficult to take because we were so close, so we don’t want that to happen again,” he said.
“But this group, with the way we play football, deserves Premier League football.”
Defender Ashley Williams argued: “Norwich is the perfect game for us. After the disappointment at Preston we need a big one. We always tend to turn up for those big ones and it’s a perfect game for us to bounce back and show everyone we are still involved.”
Fellow defender Alan Tate supported that view and added: “There are 21 points to play for and we are capable of winning all of them.”
And Spanish midfielder Andrea Orlandi, once of Barcelona – now there’s a coincidence – reminded fans that Rodgers had told his players before the season that they were sure to make at least the play-offs.
“We lost to Preston last week but we will be a different side against Norwich,” he predicted.
“We are always confident and hard to beat at home. We tend to play better against the better teams – we play our style and at our standards. We are not over-confident, but I believe we will be back on track against Norwich.”
Now, four different players boldly talking up their chances to the local media in the build-up to such a big game would probably cause palpitations at Carrow Road, where the manager and players are seldom made available for interview outside the standard pre-match and post-match conferences – except through the club’s official channels, as in the case of this week’s website appearances by new signing Dani Pacheco and skipper Grant Holt.
Though members of the club’s most successful teams of the not too distant past were certainly not sheltered from the media spotlight – far from it – the current administration believes that actions speak louder than words, a fact they hope to demonstrate once again at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night, while one or two Swans run the risk of having to eat theirs.
• Not Championship business, but what a shameful whitewash job Gary Lineker and, especially, Alan Shearer tried to perform on Wayne Rooney’s latest aberration in front of the cameras.
Rooney’s “apology” – and one wonders who wrote that – after his foul-mouthed outburst at West Ham was deemed by the former England pair, discussing it on BBC Match of the Day, to be contrite enough to forget the whole incident and move on.
Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand joined the apologists when he said: “We should follow him as a footballer rather than keep lynching him for a lot of the stuff that goes on,” he said. “Wayne Rooney swearing on TV, as much as I don’t condone it, is not front page news.”
Very sorry, but it certainly is back page news and a pretty dreadful example to set to thousands of youngsters who wear replica shirts that bear Rooney’s name.
The FA were, thank goodness, not so forgiving and have turned down his appeal against a two-match ban. Just a pity it didn’t come into force in time for Wednesday’s Champions League game at Chelsea.