This is not just an article about Swansea’s ridiculous new away kit, which does a good job of making the players look like traffic cones. There are quite a few similarities between the clubs; both came up through the play offs. Blackpool like the Swans have refused to spend big chasing premier league survival, and both sides have a history of refusing to compromise their style of football. So if Swansea are the new Blackpool, does that mean they are destined for a roller-coaster season which will ultimately end in glorious failure, or are the first Welsh club in Premier League history equipped to go one better.
There were many statistics released at the end of last year showing that Swansea city were only second to Barcelona for possession football last year. With an average of 526 completed passes per game, they were almost a hundred passes clear of Arsenal, two hundred clear of the Championship average and almost four hundred clear of Stoke. They average 83% pass completion and centre half Ashley Williams regularly racked up over 100 passes per game. I do not think for a single moment that this will be repeated in the premier league, however it shows what type of football they will be trying to play.
Blackpool impressed everyone with their blistering start to the season and the refreshing attitude of attacking every game, irrespective of reputations. They scored goals and conceded them in almost equal measures, if you wanted goals you watched Blackpool last year, the first five games alone resulted 20 goals. It was a pattern that continued throughout most of the year, Blackpool scored themselves 55 times but saw the opposition hit the net on 78 occasions, they only kept 6 clean sheets all year. Only West Brom and Newcastle scored more premier league goals outside the top six, but Blackpool fans saw their keeper pick the ball out of their net more times than anyone else in the premier league. This is where I think Swansea will be different, promotion was built on fantastic football and a rock solid defence with 22 clean sheets, not the kamikaze tactics that Blackpool employed. It would be naïve to suggest that The Liberty Stadium will be the fortress that it was last year, however I would not expect Swansea to leak goals at the rate the Sea-siders did last term.
So if there are similarities and differences between the sides, what can Swansea learn from the experiences of Ian Holloway’s men. Defensively Blackpool were often exceptionally poor when it mattered, they were 3-2 up away at Everton in February with 15 minutes to go, they conceded 3 goals before the end and lost 5-3. In reality it was a game where Blackpool where outplayed, Everton had 55% of the possession, had ten shots on target compared to Blackpools four and they completed 75 more passes, however with 15 minutes to go, the away side should have never have lost the game. If Swansea want to stay in the premier league they will have to learn a little pragmatism, sometimes a draw, even from a winning position is a good result. Wigan for example lost 37% of their games last season and drew 39%, where as Blackpool lost 50% and only drew 23%, and that is the reason why Roberto Martinez is planning for another season in the top flight and Ian Holloway is selling all his best players.
While no one expects the newly promoted sides to go and beat the top four, Blackpool failed to muster a single point against any of the big boys. Their record against the bottom four clubs (excluding themselves) is almost as bad. A four nil win away to Wigan on the first day of the season was not a sign of things to come, a 2-1 victory against Wolves and a goalless draw against West Ham were the only other points gathered. It is easy to say that the results against the bottom sides is what cost Blackpool their Premier League place, however Wolves took the exact same 7 points off the bottom four, but took 9 points off the top four and stayed up. The moral of the story is that 3 points is 3 points no matter who they are against, so rather than trying to pick and choose your battles, Brendan Rodgers would be well served to fight for every point as if it is the one that could keep Swansea city up, because it just might be true.