Swansea City suffered a 3-1 defeat away at Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon as Steve Bruce’s intense, high press and direct style did the damage in 31 first-half minutes with three goals before the break.
Our performance in the first half in the FA Cup against Brentford was poor but this was another level of woefulness. We lacked fight, intensity and appeared to be going through the motions and you have to wonder why we can’t hit the required tempo levels from the first whistle.
In the past this season, Graham Potter has sometimes got his line-up and/or formation wrong, leaving his side to play catch-up. We were playing catch up again today but not for those reasons. We just simply had no answer to cope with Sheffield Wednesday’s intense pressing and direct attacking style. Targeting long balls to their right flank, the hosts caused problems in the air constantly. Swansea, meanwhile, could barely get out of their own half.
Potter admitted that his side weren’t at the level in the first half:
“From our perspective we are disappointed with the first half, we were not at the level we need to be at,”
“We had a couple of chances but we contributed to our own downfall and that’s a learning point for us.
“At half-time we were looking for a response and we had that and we had chances to make it 3-2, but you cannot do what we did in the first half and expect to get anything.
“That’s something we need to be better at, when the scoreline went against us we turned things down and did not play forward and it was a painful 45 minutes.
“The second half was better and, when you look at the chances, we were in it, but you cannot have that performance level first half and say we deserved anything.”
Skipper Mike van der Hoorn, who hasn’t missed a game all season, was also brutally honest after the game and said the team lacked fight – it’s hard to argue.
“We have an idea of how to play but it is also about the fight and duels on the pitch. You need to want to have the ball and courage to beat your opponent,”
“I feel we missed some balls and fighting spirit in today’s game and that we were below our level.
“We were too nice today and sometimes there needs to be a switch that we flick where we turn into a team that wants to completely dominate your opponent on the pitch.
“We did not show that and we lacked a ruthless edge today.”
Playing against a high press has proven to be a significant weakness for Swansea City this season. Sheffield Wednesday, Wigan Athletic, Leeds United and Brentford have all caused us problems in recent weeks with a high press.
Such a weakness that it looks like more teams are aware of it and using it to their advantage. Swansea City need to find a way to get around it but on today’s performance, they’re still finding it difficult to hold on to the ball under pressure. Wayne Routledge replaced Declan John who struggled at left back and the winger created three chances for his side in the second half – more than any other Swansea player in the whole game. McBurnie’s goal proved to be a consolation one with 21 minutes left to play.