Date: 30th May 2006 at 12:44pm
Written by:

Owen Lewis (bdazzler1) provides his answers to our final Fan Interview of the season.

1. So we lost in the play-off final this season, how has this season rated
with others in recent memory? Could you call it a success considering where
we were just a few years ago?

Well, you could certainly call it a rollercoaster season. We’ve seen some of
the best attacking football in years such as the 7-1 against Brizzle and 5 we
scored against Chesterfield and Walsall.

But we’ve also seen the other side of the coin such as the shambles against Rotherham at home and the uninterested performance at Blackpool. We nearly blew the chance we’d set ourselves early in the season but still had the character to scrape into the play-offs which says a lot about the spirit amongst the squad.

In seasons past I’ve seen some awful football from the Swans but this season
I have very few complaints about what was served up. Two cups and an
unfortunate play-off final loss is a successful season, albeit with a bitter
twist at the end. But just look back a couple of years during the Tony Petty
era. This season was absolutely superb in comparison. Massive crowds,
quality players, big trips to the MS. All we needed was to win a penalty
shoot-out. But it was not meant to be.

2. Some fans have criticised Jackett throughout the season (mostly post
Christmas time). Can you understand some fans frustration or is criticism
harsh and undeserved?

That comes with the management territory I’m afraid. Managers’ jobs depend on results and KJ is no different. However, I can understand the frustration of many of the supporters who were criticising him.

We were excellent up until Christmas, but then we dipped. There were those amongst us who questioned whether we would be able to keep our early season form going throughout the season, and it showed that we couldn’t. The injuries to Trundle and Izzy as well as Mcleod’s dip in form were to blame in my opinion. We were on fire, and then those injuri

3. We showed at the start of the season that we had a squad good enough to
go up automatically but we ended up finishing 6th, what areas of the squad
do you think needs to be strengthened in order to gain automatic promotion
next season?

I think the supporters are mostly agreed on this issue. We certainly need a
new centre-back. Possibly one who is capable of captaining the side and one
whose distribution to those around him is better than the players we have at
present. Possibly a left back too. Ricketts just hasn’â??t been himself this
season and Tommy Williams hasn’t shown us what he is capable of yet. We have
simply been poor at the back this year, top goalscorers yes, but we
consistently looked like we were going to concede goals. A new left-winger
is a must, if only to challenge Mcloed (if he stays) and keep him on his
toes. Maybe a new centre-mid as Martinez has left, although Darren Way might
be seen as the man to replace him. Also, a new Goalkeeper to challenge Willy
perhaps.

Personally, I’d also like to see a new target man be brought in to
replace Bayo too. Though I know they don’t come cheap and they are not going
to want to play second fiddle to Fallon. And no, it has nothing to do with
his penalty miss.

4. On the flip side then, who do you think we should release this summer and
why?

Well, as I write, Martinez is out. I’d like to have seen him kept on in some
shape or form, as he seems to be the consummate professional.

However, it looks as though that isn’t going to happen. I think Kevin Austin’s days are numbered although he put in some great, solid performances during the
play-offs. This is a season-long effort and his legs have seen better days.

I think it’s the end of Adrian Forbes, full of hustle and bustle but lacks an
end product. Thank you to him, in particular for the goals against Bury last
year and Swindon this year!

Finally, Bayo. I’ve touched on this before. I want a target man who can head and who is able to jump off the floor. His shooting at goal is also poor more often than not. I know many will disagree with me! But compare him to Fallon…. It’s a no-contest!

5. What have been your best moments of the 2005/06 season?

There are quite a few. There are the 2 cup wins, the play off final we
should have won. The 2-0 win at Brentford which was probably the best
all-round team performance of the season. The drubbing of Brizzle, as well as
screamers by Trundle against Yeovil, Mcleod against Brizzle and O’Leary
against Oldham.(Thanks for those match highlights Kev, quality!! )

But for me, although Walsall went down, the highlight of the season was going there and winning 5-2. At the time Walsall were considered as contenders and we
were perceived as relegation fodder. I think that result installed the
belief in our players that we were good enough, even with Trundle being out
injured at the time. But there’s also the win at Forest and the draw at home
to Southend. It was nice to see both sets of supporters appreciating each
other and their players. Doesn’t happen very often these days. So yes, there
are plenty of moments to remember.

6. Some fans have said that we’d be better prepared going into the
Championship the season after next as to going up this year? What are your
views on this?

Possibly. But if Huw Jenkins and KJ are to be believed then we are going to
sign the same players regardless of which division we are playing in. So
we’ll see. I think going up this season may have been a year or two too
early. It would be difficult to go into the Championship, especially with
the defensive problems we’ve encountered this year.

It will take time for any new players to gel. However, I think most people associated with the club would have liked promotion this season. What I am concerned about however, is that teams who have suffered play off defeats in the manner in which we did, tend to have particularly slow starts the next season and
simply don’t perform.

Remember the season after we lost to Northampton at Wembley?? We were shocking up until Christmas. The beginning of next season, Jackett is really going to have to earn his money to start us off like we did this term. To be honest, if we had won on Saturday, I think we’d have been straight back down. A blessing in disguise?? Maybe.

7. Who in your opinion was Kenny Jackett’s best and most important signing
of the season?

That would be either our workhorse Fallon or poacher Knight. These two are
going to make a great partnership if they are kept together. Without Knight’s
goals, we wouldn’t have even made it to Cardiff. But Fallon, in my opinion,
is a class act. After the start he had and the abuse he took from some
sections of our support, and it was abuse, lets be honest here, he’s come on
and has shown what he is capable of.

£300k is a bargain in my opinion. He’s good in the air, got a decent touch, a real handful, can finish (what a goal against Barnsley!!) and he’s got an attitude. He comes across as the type of player who shows what he’s made of when the pressure is really on. I hope we can keep hold of him for a long time yet.

8. What do you think was the reason for our decline and significant drop in
form at the turn of the year? Did Jackett’s January signing’s affect our
rhythm and consistency of our starting team and style or was it something
else?

A combination of injuries and generally poor performances against lesser
opposition.

Trundle, O’Leary and OTJ’s injuries were significant. We had
lost the ball winners in the centre of the pitch and we were chasing
shadows. It also left our shaky centre backs open to attack. We weren’t
scoring goals and you could see the confidence seeping away from our
players. It took a while for Fallon to start scoring, and when the
supporters start to get on the back of a big-money signing, its bound to
affect the rest of the squad. McLeod played a big part in the early season
too and his loss of form didn’t help the cause. His lack of interest seemed
to sum up the squads performance in general really. Uninterested and
below-par.

9. It was quite a surprise to see us doing well right from the start, what
was your prediction for this season and did you believe we’d maintain our
form to go up or did you think we’d begin to drop down the table slightly
like we did?

Before the season started, I would have been happy with a mid table finish.

I looked at the pundits’ predictions, which had us, Southend and Colchester to
go down. It’s the same every year. But I was confident we’d be safe. Though
in no way did i expect us to start off like we did. We were excellent. I
also didn’t think we’d be able to play like that all season and that proved
to be the case. The good start may have been our downfall as the supporters
had seen what we were capable of and wanted more of the same. But unless you
support Chelsea, that is very rarely the case. Teams learned our soft spot
was straight down the middle and that’s where they attacked. Our defenders
would clear and the ball would just come straight back. The amount of
one-goal leads we lost due to sitting back and defending was incredible. It
proved very, very costly.

10. Who did you vote as your player of the season and why?

I also voted for Leon Britton. As Francis pointed out, he was superb on the
counter attack and was constantly a danger to opposition defences. He works
hard to get back in defence and has bags of skill, especially on big pitches
like the Liberty. He also chipped in with his fair share of goals. The
partnership with Tate is a good one and I hope it continues. I think Leon’s
performances have been aided by Tate’s improvement.

This time last year I was calling for Tate to be released as all he seemed to do was give away penalties and make mistakes. But this year he has improved no end and his player of the year award was definitely justified. But I think Leon just
shaded it as his consistency, coupled with the fact he caught the eye with
his attacking prowess and sheer drive and energy, earned him my vote.

11. I have mixed feelings about next season, I think we can bounce back and
gain automatic promotion but another side of me believes we won’t even
manage to get into the play-offs, what are your views on this?

I hope that we have no hangovers next season after our play-off final loss.
If we can keep all our big players such as Robbo, Trundle and Britton, then
we are certainly capable. But we must get out of the blocks quickly like we
did this year or it could be tough.

The division already looks a tougher prospect than this term with the 3 relegated Championship clubs, Forest, Brizzle, Donny, Huddersfield, Brentford and even Carlisle could spring a surprise or two. If we fall behind early on, it will be a real challenge to be involved during the run-in. But I certainly believe we are good enough.

We have players that other clubs would snap up without a moment’s hesitation.
I also believe the person that will have learnt the most this year is KJ.
Hopefully he will have learned how to get the best of the players at the
right times and get the tactics consistently spot-on. I don’t think we’ll win
the division, but I will certainly be putting a tenner on us gaining
promotion one way or another. Just please, no penalties. I aged about 20
years on Saturday and wouldn’t be able to cope with any more stress like
that. Good luck Kenny and the boys.