Sunday, 30 October 2016

Swans 200: Swans Managers compared

Monday night sees the arrival of Swansea's 200th game in the Premier League. I'm fully aware that Swansea City existed before the Premier League but it's still quite an achievement for the club to now be in its 6th consecutive season in the Premier League even if the money and notoriety that brings seems to have poisoned an awful lot of the club.

Away from off-field matters, I've started to look at a number of stats around our time in the Premier League so far, the first one being performance by manager:

When looking at a rolling 38 game period (i.e., the equivalent of a league season), there have been some ups and downs. Laudrup's league activity started well but started to dip shortly before the League Cup final and at the time of his sacking Swansea had taken 36 points from their previous 38 games which is arguably the kind of tally that would get you relegated if in a single season.

The high point came towards the end of Monk's full season in charge (2014-15) when the figure was 59 points from a 38 game period.

At the time of Monk's sacking Swansea had 48 points from the previous 38 games which is pretty much the average for Swansea's time in the PL as a whole.

Guidolin was in charge for 24 games (although was ill for part of that time and question how much influence he would have had for what was technically his 1st game vs. Watford), but during his tenure, Swansea's 38 game average never went higher than 49 or lower than 42.

When split by manager, the thing that stands out is that Rodgers had 47 points from his season in the Premier League with the Swans and that's pretty the same rate for the 161 games (46.3 points per 38 games). For the last 5 seasons at least, Swansea have been an upper mid-table team with a variance of a few points either way.

Whether an underwhelming couple of transfer windows have changed all that we'll find out in the next few months or possibly sooner if things don't start to improve.

For anyone interested, an interactive version of the 38 game rolling average by manager is below (and also available here if any problems or you want to view full screen).

Monday, 10 October 2016

Giggs, Savage and Content: The New Numbers Game

Media and Journalism are a far different thing today to the past, as referenced in Simon Kuper's excellent piece on the change:
Part of Kuper's piece which is well worth a read
What's this got to do with Swansea City? If you haven't already seen it, Robbie Savage's piece on why Swansea should have 'Given it to Giggsy'  is probably a masterpiece of the new world of 'content'.

Balanced and nuanced debate generally get you nowhere, it's more important that you are heard (and read) than what you actually have to say.

Savage's piece came out on Friday around 8pm, with the Mirror itself tweeting about it, then the man himself (along with a subsequent tweet on Saturday morning).  As they used a Bitly link it's possible to see the kind of level of activity it got:
These figures are for clicks for this link only so won't include activity which directly refers to the Mirror's URL (of which there'll be plenty), but these alone are fairly impressive when you think usually any response from a tweet dies out within 15 minutes (if not sooner) unless it goes viral.  If you put the article link  into the search for twitter you'll see a couple of Mirror journalists promoting it, alongside plenty of people linking to it in tweets saying that Savage has lost the plot.

The following day, Football 365 did a fantastic bit by bit takedown of Savage's argument:
The main thing to note here is the retweet volume, over a thousand retweets where they'd normally get double digits so what we are left with is:
  • Man with reputation for saying daft things, says something daft, gets a reaction
  • Someone points out daft things have been said, everyone laughs at daft man
  • Someone points out that some people have pointed out that daft man has said daft things
I'm fully aware that I'm at the back of this human centipede of content, but ultimately people get the content they deserve.

Back on a Swans focus with regards to Giggs, he was being reported as possible target as early as Sep 21st in this Telegraph piece with Huw Jenkins apparently keen but the new owners less so, fast forward a few weeks and Rory Smith's article in the New York Times is almost falling over itself to stress how much Bradley is Huw's man:

It is Bradley’s job to quell that doubt and disprove that charge. He has started well. Of the three who conducted the interviews, it was Jenkins — Welsh through and through — who was arguably most impressed by the American, won over by the range of his experience and the clarity of his vision. Bradley still has questions to face, but Jenkins, for one, is convinced he will find the answers.

It may well be that Bradley impressed more than Giggs at interview (given Bradley's first press conference, there's no doubt the guy likes to talk), but the thing that concerns me earlier is that earlier in that Rory Smith piece a source at the club is perfectly happy to insinuate that one of the other interviewee's (presumably Giggs) basically just said that the players need to run around more.

It's easy to laugh at that, but coupled with their lack of communication with the Trust and the fact that they are currently using Talksport rather than other channels to speak to the fan base still leaves a lot of questions about their behaviour.

For more on the new owners, there's an earlier piece here, and also one on the old board and the Swans Trust.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Swans review pt2 - Swans Trust and Old Shareholders

Following on from part 1, where I looked at the background, comments and possible motivations of the new shareholders this part was initially going to be a bit more in-depth but recent events have overtaken that but wanted to get this out anyway:

Old Shareholders

While there's an enormous amount of credit in the bank for the work (and financial input) from the old shareholders there's plenty in the last 12 months to feel aggrieved about.

Although both the sackings of Monk and Guidolin could to differing extents be justified, both were handled pretty badly.

Monk's in terms of making him take training even through everyone knew he was finished and Guidolin for the case of re-hiring him in the summer then pulling the plug effectively after 5 league games and leaving him to deal with the (not-so quiet) whispers of the last couple of weeks.

Being a shareholder at Swansea City in recent times must have been like balancing an uninsured Ming vase on your head: technically you're a rich man but one slip and you're just left with a mess to clear up.

Personally, rather than the 'Taking Swansea to the next level' stuff I'd rather they were honest and said it was a life changing amount of money you can't really say no to and it was time to get out while the going was good.

The fact that the sale went ahead largely without the Trust's knowledge suggests the shareholders didn't want anyone rocking the boat which when you consider the sums of money involved I can understand. It's one thing to say you'd do the decent thing but to be honest in the same situation I'd be tempted to do the same.

It does however leave the question of how much of a selling tool Jack to a King was, given it appears to have been funded by an interest free £1.2m loan from the club, it may be that ticket + DVD sales and other rights bring a decent return and the club breaks even and gets its money back but question is how much of Jack to a King was to promote the Swansea message and how much to help draw in a buyer?  Given the number of messages from the club about how tough things are financially this seems like an expensive vanity project at best.

The Trust
I think the Trust have a pretty much impossible job, although 21% brings some rights and influence ultimately if people don't want to deal with you then you have no way to force them through the normal legal channels.

This from Trust Chairman Phil Sumbler on the Planet Swans forum was interesting and an insight into the difficulties the Trust face, say too much and be accused of washing your dirty laundry in public, or on the other hand risk others thinking you're saying too little and being ineffective.

They are also in the difficult position now of not being in desperate need for members financially in terms of what £10 memberships can bring in when they have several hundred thousand pounds from club dividends and also have to answer the question 'What difference will my membership make if the Trust get ignored?'

Arguably that's precisely the reason the Trust needs a strong membership, this may all end up a fuss over nothing or it could be the start of something quite messy for which a strong and vocal Trust is required. If you want to join, you can sign up online here

Ultimately a large part of what made Swansea City different and in the words of their own marketing 'Not just another football club' has gone.  That doesn't mean that everything will now fall apart, Bradley's not an idiot even if he's not the most inspiring choice, the squad is OK if not great and I'd put us to finish around 14th-16th.

If you wanted to place blame for where we are now I wouldn't put too much of it at the door of the new owners as things stand. It's not time for the burning pitchforks just yet but they've certainly a fair amount of convincing to do.