The eagerly anticipated third part of the Review of 2008. The Year of the Swan takes us into July, August and September.
I don’t know about you, but by July I was getting rather bored. The European Championships were good, but without England there to provide the comedy value by getting knocked out on penalties yet again it just wasn’t the same. Transfer rumours are rife and the majority seemed to centre around a certain Dutchman. Thankfully though, July started with a player coming into the squad, when Albert Serran signed for a cheap and cheerful £80,000. Big Den’s days were numbered, thankfully.
Angel Rangel and Jason Scotland hopped on to the surgeons table (not at the same time) for operations that would keep them out of the early stages of the Championship season. Darryl Duffy went in search of first team football and found it at Bristol Rovers, and Tony Pennock became Head of Youth Development after something happened with David Moss. Answers on a postcard please. Darren Way’s imjury hit spell with the club came to an end as he headed back to Yeovil whilst Stefan Morrison signed on a free from West Brom. For those of you that blinked any time in the summer probably missed him.
The Bodde saga rolled on, Huw Jenkins and Roberto Martinez holding out for the £2 million transfer fee they had slapped on his shaven head. Although given Derby’s way of going about trying to sign one third of the Holy Trinity, I don’t think they would have accepted a £2 million bid anyway. We were all prepared to see Bodde in the white of the Rams next season, but then one fine summers day the news came out that Bodde had signed a new contract. Where did that come from? Frankly, who cares? Bodde was a Jack.
And then finally the pre-season games got underway. Bodde got a warm reception and kissed the badge on the way to scoring in a 5-0 win over Neath, and then came wins over Port Talbot and Carmarthen. All was set up nicely for the Spanish tour, which Febian Brandy would be on after signing on loan once again. Espanyol beat the Swans 4-0 but Peralada and Palamos were no match for Martinez’s men. Barca B raced into a three goal lead before Bauza and Brandy staged a cracking comeback. Back to the UK and Chester City were seen off at the end of July.
Kris O’Leary enjoyed a very well deserved testimonial, although illness limited his part in the game. West Brom provided the opposition and the Swans proved they were nearly ready for the new season by holding the Premiership new boys to a goalless draw. Den Haag provided the last opposition of the pre – season schedule as Andrea Orlandi struck the only goal.
And then finally after three months (and 24 years) of waiting Swansea City were back competing at the second tier of English football. Charlton was the first taste of the sort of grounds Swans fans could get used to. Also, the first taste of the ridiculous traffic that comes with playing London’s bigger clubs. The performance was excellent, the 2-0 reverse not ideal. Still, the 3,300 Jacks left the Valley confident that, on the evidence they had just witnessed, Roberto’s boys were ready for Championship football. Just as long as we didn’t concede another set piece all season long!
The first win came a few days later courtesy of a Shaun MacDonald double against Brentford in the Carling Cup, before Gorka Pintado announced his arrival by scoring the third goal in a 3-1 demolition of Nottingham Forest. A 1-0 win at Plymouth was equally impressive, Jason Scotland celebrating his new contract extension by getting off the mark for the campaign.
The Carling Cup was a chance for the fringe players to get a look in, and they proved the depth of the squad by seeing off Premiership Hull in a thrilling extra time victory. Sheffield Wednesday came to the Liberty and stole a point and the draw for the Third Round of the League Cup pitted us against some team down the road.
An international break rather rudely interrupted the momentum of the Swans, momemntum that was ground to a grinding halt when another trip to London brought another 2-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace. Derby came with their tail between their legs after not getting Bodde, but did leave the Liberty with a point after the home side failed to make the most of their domination. The Dutchman then grabbed an injury time equaliser to deny an impressive Burnley side.
And then came the big one. The first local derby for nine years in South Wales. There was never any danger of either manager fielding weakened teams, and the game mathched the atmosphere in its intesity. Stephen McPhail endeared himself to the Jack Army by getting himself sent off, whilst Jordi Gomez earned legendary status by rifling in a low free kick that earned the sweetest of victories.
Artur Krysiak added another nationality to the squad; the Polish keeper arriving on loan from Birmingham City. Watford was not the best, nor the worst possible draw in the Fourth Round of the Carling Cup. Reading proved far too strong in the league, brushing aside an out of sorts Swansea 4-0. The month ended on a high though, with a unconvincing performance at Preston yielding three priceless points. Bodde scored what can only be described as a scorcher from 40 yards and Gomez made sure of the points. So far, so good in the Championship…
Read Part 4 here