Not all Swansea fans are knuckle-dragging neanderthals. VFTN know a very nice one, and Guto Llewellyn also lives behind enemy lines, so has more riding on Sunday than most! We asked him how Swansea are currently faring and his thoughts on the game.
So, derby day! Are you looking forward to it or dreading it?
I always dread derbies because the fear of losing always trumps any excitement ahead of the fixture, but seeing as this is my first derby since I moved to live in Cardiff a few years ago, it’s particularly significant for me. I now work with Cardiff fans, which is something I’ve never done before. I live in Canton, so come across Cardiff fans every day which definitely was not the case when I lived in the Swansea Valley. Put simply, I’m petrified of losing this one. Although I’ll be honest; winning this one would be particularly sweet (and would make me particularly unbearable).
How is Swansea’s form at the moment? After a blistering start, things appear to have stalled a bit lately.
We’re third in the table, so should in theory say we’re doing just fine, but it would be a lie. Our results in the first month or so of the season were a slight over-achievement, but the spirit on show in those early season games was outstanding. Since then, we’ve deteriorated and one win in six league games speaks for itself. We don’t seem to be playing with the same energy and the team looks uncomfortable with the current system, at least when we have the ball. The free-flowing football of last season is gone and if performances don’t improve, the same will be true of our currently lofty, but perhaps slightly deceptive league position.
Cardiff are a very different beast away from home and rather timid on their travels. Do you get the sense that Swansea fans are optimistic and what are they expecting from Cardiff on Sunday?
A few weeks ago, Swansea fans were all looking forward to this game, but the mood’s changed ever so slightly and while there’s still a lot of excitement surrounding the return of the derby, there’s also a degree of concern. Cardiff’s away form hasn’t been great, but Swansea’s recent home form is arguably worse. This is being written before the mid-week Brentford game, but as things stand, we’ve taken just one point from our last three games at the Liberty, losing our last home game to Stoke and playing pretty poorly in all three games. This is a strange match because despite all the build-up and excitement, I think both sets of fans would probably admit they’d prefer it if this game was being played at some other point in the season because neither team’s playing particularly brilliantly.
How would you describe Steve Cooper’s Swansea?
It’s still very early days, but so far at least Cooper’s Swans have been hard-working, functional, clinical and for the most part, incredibly spirited. However, in recent games they’ve shown signs of weakness and insecurity. The football this season is nowhere near as entertaining or expansive as last season under Potter, but on the whole, it’s been more effective. We’re better defensively and more streetwise, but I feel there’s plenty of room for improvement. Despite the downturn of late, we’re still overachieving, but definitely in a state of limbo, still unsure what kind of season we’re in for.
Cardiff kicked the crap out of QPR, a very young side who seem to play in a similar fashion to Swansea, a few weeks back. How have Swansea fared when up against more physical sides this season?
Interestingly, we also beat QPR despite them playing a lot of good football against us. I think the Hoops are probably sick to death of Welsh clubs shithousing their ways to wins against them this season. There are a lot of misconceptions about this Swans team. We’ve got some nice, tidy, technical footballers who like to get the ball down and pass, but we’re not the same flamboyant Swansea team which had a soft underbelly under Potter. This team isn’t great to watch a lot of the time, but proved in the early stages of the season that they can cope under pressure even when they’re being bombarded.
Having said that, we’ve not faced many teams who play a similar style to Cardiff (there are very few teams left which play the Warnock way). Cardiff will be different to any other team we’ve faced and while I think there’s a chance Cardiff’s physicality could unnerve our young side, we also have two centre-backs in Mike van der Hoorn and Joe Rodon who aren’t just very good on the ball and great readers of the game, they’re also superb in the air. I think they could give the likes of Morrison and Flint a good contest when those long balls start bombarding our box.
What is your favourite derby memory from recent encounters between the sides?
The 3-0 last time we met is tough to beat. A lot was riding on that game. We had a new manager and of course did not want to lose twice to Cardiff in one season while both clubs were in the Premier League. Thankfully, we got the job done in emphatic style. The atmosphere was brilliant and it was particularly remarkable because Swansea vs Cardiff is usually such a tight afair, decided by just one goal. To win it by three was stunning.
Finally, how do you see Sunday playing out and what is your prediction?
I think it’s going to be a really ugly game and will probably come down to which team is best prepared mentally. If we’re up for it and play with the kind of energy and hard work shown in the first six matches of the season, I’m confident we’ll win. But I am very concerned that Cardiff could bully us into submission. Our last three home games have seen us concede in the 85th minute and twice in added time. With Cardiff’s irritating late goal fetish, I can definitely see you snatching something in the dying minutes. I’ll go for a tense, scrappy 1-1 draw which would suit me just fine. The main thing with any derby is that you don’t lose, so if you offered me a draw right now I’d definitely take it.