Terry Pierce - High-flying Swansea destined for the Premier League
Published: 01 Mar 2011 - 09:52:05
Back in the heady summer days of August I wrote a carefully constructed and lovingly researched preview of the Championship season ahead. But the notoriously unpredictable nature of England's second tier now makes my preview look like the drunken ramblings of someone who knows nothing about football.
The league's anyone-beats-anyone nature makes second guessing who's going to fly and who's going to fall a wasted exercise, with my preview the ultimate example.
I foolishly predicted Middlesbrough to finish top. They're currently struggling in the bottom six.I picked Bristol City as my outside bet for a play-off spot. They're now entrenched in mid-table mediocrity having lost Steve Coppell before the summer was out. And the pick of a very poor bunch of predictions - Swansea City to get relegated. Boy how wrong I was.
Brendan Rogers' side are having a storming season and, after just missing out on the top six last term, City are sitting pretty in second, one point and one place ahead of their bitter rivals Cardiff.
I gave Rogers a bit of hard time back in the summer. He had persisted with a fluid 4-3-3 at his previous sides Reading and Watford, with mixed results, but in Swansea he inherited a club set up to play football the right way and everything just seems to have clicked.
Keeping hold of Angel Rangel and Darren Pratley was excellent business and a signal of intent but Rogers really pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat two days after an opening-day defeat at Hull. One criticism of the Swans last year was their lack of firepower up front and, with no top striker joining over the summer, that problem looked set to continue into the current term.But Rogers managed to seal the deal of the season by bringing in Scott Sinclair from Chelsea and the former Bristol Rovers youngster has been in sensational form, bagging 21 goals in all competitions so far.
The impressive form of Nathan Dyer on the opposite wing has complimented Sinclair's fantastic performances, and the shrewd acquisition of Luke Moore has completed a fearsome attacking trio.
City comfortably beat fellow promotion-hopefuls Leeds United 3-0 in front of the cameras on Saturday and it was that man Sinclair leading the way, helping himself to a double. More tellingly, perhaps, was the gate. A Liberty Stadium record crowd of just under 20000 witnessed City's Saturday lunchtime stroll and, although that figure was boosted by yet another huge travelling contingent from Yorkshire, there is no denying that everyone in West Glamorgan is intent on helping the club reach the promised land of the top flight, ending a 28-year hiatus.
The Swans are upwardly mobile. The ground is packed, the side are playing well and in Sinclair, Dyer and Moore they possess a front three that are more than capable of firing them over the finish line. They've won four straight league games since the derby-day defeat against Cardiff and their run-in looks kind, with only the visits of Norwich and Nottingham Forest sticking out as particularly tough.
So, despite the taste of sweet humble pie, I am going to stick my neck on the line once more by predicting Swansea to see out the season in impressive fashion and seal an automatic spot.
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- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:terry pierce
- Terry was born and bred in Wiltshire, and is a massive Swindon fan - travelling the length of the country most weekends to watch the 'mighty' Reds. He also manages a successful(ish) Sunday league side, and his life pretty much revolves around football. Five-year-old Terry was in the crowd when Swindon won promotion to the Premier League in 1993 with a 4-3 play-off win against Leicester. He cried after every goal. Read Terry's thoughts every week on life outside the Premier League. Follow Terry on Twitter @telpierce.
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