Now that I’m back in the website writing groove (after far too long neglecting this little corner of “ATFV!”) I really should take this opportunity to pay homage to Francesco Guidolin after the weekend’s stunning victory over the Champions Chelsea.
I did touch upon the achievement in my previous article but it probably got a little lost in all the angst about a potential takeover, and to be fair, Guidolin deserves centre stage after Saturday’s performance.
It’s true to say that I’ve been pretty critical of Guidolin over the past few weeks, mostly because of his insistence on playing that damned diamond and his reluctance to let at least one of his flying wingers off the leash.
We might well have remained unbeaten in the games against Norwich, Villa and Stoke but by God the football was awful and we didn’t half ride our luck.
However, whether it was a case of the penny finally dropping that the diamond doesn’t work, Gylfi is best placed in the centre and Montero puts us on the front foot, or it was simply the need to grind out points gave way to a safety-induced freedom, it was a welcome return to The Swansea Way against Chelsea.
With a more traditional formation and a standing order to hunt the opposition down in packs high up the field we finally had the attacking aggression that’s been absent for so long and it was a pleasure to watch in place of the awful, nerve shredding containment game that rarely contained anyone we trued it against.
It does beg the question what Guidolin could do with his own team, a pre-season and a chance to impose his style rather than compromise it in an effort to keep an ailing team up.
It does also beg the question – at least in my mind – whether those games against Norwich and Villa could have been a little more comfortable if we’d gone at defensively weak opponents and made the most of home advantage by giving the crowd something to get behind rather than reducing them to a 20,000 strong collective nervous wreck due to a determination to sit back and soak up pressure.
It’s academic now though as the record books show we won those two fixtures and they’ve proved pivotal in keeping us up – and that means we don’t have to worry about form anymore, poor performances don’t have to ring anywhere near as many alarm bells, we can just relax and play out the season…hopefully in some style.
It will be fascinating to see whether the excellent performance against Chelsea is a true reflection of what a Guidolin side is all about, and if it is, it will certainly give the club hierarchy – whoever that may be by the end off the season – food for thought as a decision is made on whether to keep the Italian on or make a play for someone else *cough* RODGERS *cough*.
After what I saw against Chelsea, I’m finally looking forward to seeing Guidolin’s six game audition for the job on a more permanent basis…
…and that’s as Frank as I can be about it!