Date: 5th August 2014 at 8:40pm
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If there’s one thing that impressed me during this year’s World Cup, is how the underdogs – the smaller nations – have impressed and caused upset after upset – to see the likes of current holders Spain, Italy and almost Brazil and Netherlands knocked out of the competition.

The list of the underdog teams goes on and on, from Costa Rica, Columbia, Mexico, Chile and Algeria to name a few.

What’s been common throughout these sides is their desire, determination, effort and attitude – and all of these attributes have been key to seeing them all progress past the group stage of the World Cup.

Yes, in addition to that – they’ve all shown some magnificent moments, ability and class, but without the attributes above, I doubt those moments of brilliance would have been enough to see the likes of Italy and Spain suffer.

And this got me thinking about how much was said about the lack of desire and effort that was shown from the team under Michael Laudrup – as the team reflected his apparent attitude and lack of application to the job in his last few months – if not far longer. This seemed to be the ultimate reason for his departure – rather than poor results alone.

Therefore, you get the impression that the club is very keen to get the team playing as one again – showing the commitment, desire and application needed to cope in such a demanding league as the Premiership.

You also get the impression that Garry Monk is the man to do that. You could see a tougher Swansea City next season, one with a bit more muscle at least as the manager got young pair Bartley and Fulton involved in the final League game – and stressed that they impose their physicality into the game. We certainly saw that, they both weren’t shy of a hard and fair tackle – and Fulton looks like he could develop into that ball winner we’ve needed in midfield. Jonjo Shelvey does offer that also, but it’s always good to have another option.

It wasn’t only the likes of Costa Rica and Chile’s hard work and effort that impressed and caught my eye, but their organisation, formation and tactics.

The way the likes of Costa Rica and Chile set up their teams reminded me in some ways of how we approached some of the final few games of last season – playing rather deep, soaking up pressure and hitting teams on the counter attack – and I wonder if this will be the norm next season – rather than our previous style of possession & passing football.

Atletico Madrid and their La Liga winning campaign last season is another perfect example of an underdog achieving thanks to hard work, commitment and organisation. They beat Barcelona`s famous tika-taka passing style and went close to winning the Champions League, but Real Madrid scored a very late equaliser to force extra time – and they eventually won rather convincingly – 4-1. Atletico`s style and tactics that night reminded in some ways of how Swansea City tried to deal with the bigger clubs last season under Garry Monk.

With this is mind, would it be such a shame to see the demise of our famous, trademark style of possession football?

Following Monk`s appointment in February, the stats significantly changed in regards to passing and possession. In a nutshell – there was less of both, but significantly, the stats that really matter – goals – increased.

We, the fans had to get used to teams dominating us rather than the opposite. Sunderland had 55+% possession in the final game against us but thanks to our tactics and direct, attacking style, we won the game 3-1.
Brendan Rodgers’ Plan A
Next season, we may have to get used to more of the same, but I don`t see that as a bad thing. Many of us were concerned that Brendan Rodgers` “Plan A and nothing else way” was becoming a problem a few seasons ago. Teams knew exactly how to approach games against us. The likes of Everton and Norwich City were perfect examples of how to execute a game plan to beat us – push high up the pitch, pressure the defence and limit the space we had. This gave the team all sorts of problems and we found it very difficult to cope with.

Under Michael Laudrup, a different problem developed – our attacking play was far too pedestrian and slow – we could never get in behind and all of our offensive play was in front of the opposition. This never looked like being resolved, and you can`t blame the board for sacking him.

I may be wrong – hopefully I`m not, because I believe we`ll see a different Swansea City next season. An attacking side with plenty of pace and skill that will create plenty of chances – but one that won`t necessarily require 50 short passes before we get the chance to finish it in front of goal.

What`s more important though is that Garry Monk has identified some crucial points about the game – the fact that it`s always changing and evolving. We saw in the World Cup how the smaller nations demonstrated a different way of playing – by excellent organisation, perfectly executed game plans and taking their chances when they came along.

As Monk explains below, he’s trying out all different types of systems in the pre-season friendlies to see how he can experiment and change his side to suit the opposition and how a game can change over the 90 minutes.

“I have got to try things out, see what works and what doesn`t work and then we can assess things,”

“When I put these combinations together it`s so we can see that, then we`ll try to work on a few more things in training and make some decisions.

“But I think football is evolving. If you watch it properly, I think you have to have your own ideas. The game is changing and you have to have three or four options where you can change your game. That`s not just in attack, it`s in midfield and defence too.

“That`s the way I want to work and have stuff up my sleeve where we can change things and, most importantly, the players know what we want when we do and what`s expected of them.”

One thing’s for sure though is that the formation will stay the same (shown below)

“We have done so well with that formation and we will keep that formation 100%,” said the rookie boss.

“But the reason why I am doing what I am doing is so we can have a Plan B and a Plan C and change it in games I feel we need to change it for.

‘I think you have to be able to do that. You train that way so that when you change it, everyone knows what they have to do. Everyone needs to understand exactly what is required when we play that way.”

Monk`s squad is coming together quite nicely now, and the range of his midfield will allow him to alternative between different formations and tactics during games. 3-5-2 was widely used in the World Cup, and while I can`t see us ever using that, there`s plenty of others Monk will make use of.

Various systems Monk could use:

Below shows the typical system we could start with:

A balanced side between defence and midfield, with two defensive midfielders, two wingers close to the touchline and an attacking player behind the lone striker.


Below is a more attacking 4-3-3 setup, similar to the one that was so effective in the 3-1 win against Sunderland at the end of last season. But the difference from the above is that the wingers are more central – similar to how they operated under Laudrup. Behind the main striker – Bony, is a second striker if you like, a player like Emnes or Gomis. This could be a risk at times, particularly against the top teams in the division who could quickly exploit the space left behind if possession is lost when all four attacking players are in or around the attacking third.

What you often used to see last season was Bony dropping deeper, operating a creative role and providing through balls for the likes of Routledge and Dyer – or in the example below, Montero and Dyer, with Gomis pushed further up the pitch.

Donate to Marie Cure Cancer Care in memory of a Swansea City fan (father of the Vital Swansea editor) – Thankyou


Without the ball, Swansea City under Monk last season often played rather deep and with two close lines of four, with Montero and Dyer dropping deeper in this example to limit space in behind and between the lines. Once the ball was won back, they could counter with pace, with Montero and Dyer racing out and Gomis and Bony also ready to link up and add support to the attack. Shelvey has the range of pass to play that key, direct ball for Montero, Dyer or Routledge to counter attack.