Losing to Brentford in a Championship Play-Off semi-final was a bitter blow but there’s no time for Swansea City or its fans to feel sorry for themselves as a difficult new season already looms large…
True story; I’m absolutely terrified of bees. Hate the little winged bastards, along with wasps and those dreaded killer hornets the Daily Mail is always hysterically warning us about.
The fact that the Swans’ Championship Play Off vanquishers Brentford FC are informally known as the Bees, sharing a name with my infernal insectidicidal nemesis just makes my dislike for them a little more acute.
Of course, the crass behaviour of the Bees’ manager Thomas Frank is what’s really fired up my desire to see them come a cropper in the Final against Fulham…after his histrionics before, during and after the second leg it’s right and proper to label him nothing more than a Drama Queen Bee!
It’s always a painful experience losing in the Play-Offs but although it still hurts, I’ve already dusted myself down and I’m looking forward to getting on with the next season in the Championship.
I think there are three main reasons why I have accepted the defeat and shrugged off the disappointment of not reaching the Final at the very least:-
1/ Brentford were the better side – the Bees had our number all season, scoring three against us in three of four games we met them in this term. They are a very, very good side and there is no shame in us being unable to better them over two legs. Having pulled off a minor miracle in the end to even reach the Play-Offs it felt like we had the opportunity to steal the last promotion place, especially after winning the first leg, but in the end Brentford’s superior quality across the pitch put paid to our chances. Having said that, it’s still galling that we gifted them their goals!
2/ The fan-less factor – Watching football in general and the Swans in particular since it restarted post Covid lockdown has been a surreal experience. To be fair it turned out better than expected but on the whole it’s still a rather hollow experience. With Tuesday’s Play-Off Final being played behind closed doors it took the edge off things for. The defeat still hurts but maybe if I’d lost out on another Wembley experience with the Swans then it would have hit me harder?
3/ The Premier League “experience” – I know that I’ll be in a minority here but I’m not disappointed in the slightest in missing out on a place in the Premier League. The greed, the arrogance and the wholly uncompetitive nature of the self styled best league in the world just leaves me cold. Our first few years there were brilliant, don’t get me wrong – but we went there with our own swagger and looked to enjoy passing the top six off the field. Then we got scared, certain Board members panicked at the thought of getting relegated before they’d cashed in and we became just another lower half side content with trying not to lose every week. At least in the Championship it’s full of surprises and not just the usual suspects challenging for the prizes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d have taken the promotion happily – because I want my club to be the best that it can be and I want it to be successful. I just doubt I would have enjoyed the experience. It’s been more than two seasons since I last watched a Premier League game and I haven’t missed it in the slightest.
What it came down to is that I desperately wanted us to take the unexpected chance we had and go all the way to the Premier League so that we could get our hands on the TV money.
Now I know there will be many of you out there screaming at me that the club wouldn’t have seen a penny of the money as the “Americans would just take it out of the club” but that’s massively unlikely. I’m no financial expert but our outgoings would mean there still wouldn’t be profit to be had and so no dividend. And it’s really, really hard to find ways to siphon off money without the Trust calling it out – for example if the Americans tried charging large sums for ‘consultancy fees’.
That money though would go a long way towards offsetting the current financial problems we have whilst affording some sort of insulation from the Covid-19 crisis that will surely engulf clubs outside of the Premier League as long as fans are shut out of stadiums.
That’s why I’m still hurting a little after the result last Tuesday because without the riches the Premier League provides through the various TV deals we face more cost cutting and possibly more job losses at the club.
There’s no time to dwell though with the new season kicking off in just five weeks time – a legacy of the entire football calendar being thrown into disarray by the worldwide pandemic.
With several loan players back at their parent clubs and a number of others at the end of their contracts they will have to be a considerable turn over of players yet again and little time in which to do it. And it will have to be done against the backdrop of a last, reduced parachute payment and a crippling financial situation exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.
Trevor Birch will have his work cut out keeping the club afloat, never mind competitive. Steve Cooper will no longer have the ‘rookie’ tag to offer mitigation for long periods of poor results and performances. Andy Scott will need to show us what he’s got in the shrewd recruitment stakes.
Yes, the Bees defeat still stings and it still hurts, but there’s a massive challenge directly in front of us and it’s one we should look forward to with excitement rather than trepidation – because the season just gone should remind us all that ANYTHING can happen in the Championship.