Swansea and Chelsea – a tale of two cities.

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez searches for answers.

It was a cool Sunday, so what better than to stay in the warm and catch-up on two games.

First up, Chelsea v Manchester City closely followed by the Football League Cup Final between Swansea and Bradford City.

As I pondered the televisual feast it occurred to me this time last season these two clubs were in vastly differently places – in terms of form, potential and the chance of winning silverware – to where we find them today.

This time last year, Chelsea were flying, they were playing some beautiful football, the squad were united and were having great fun playing for their new manager Roberto Di Matteo, and by the end of the season they would be crowned FA Cup winners and European Champions. Swansea, were enjoying themselves, they were playing attractive football but so far had failed to reach their full potential.

How times have changed, ten months on Swansea are on top of the world, a young stylish team, full of passion and enthusiasm, enjoying themselves like a teenager who has just gotten the keys to their first car and can now go anywhere and do anything. Chelsea on the other hand, who should have built on the success of last season look lethargic, bored, uninterested in anything that’s going on around them, they don’t know where to go, what to do and lack any form of inspiration. It is sad to see and such a waste.

By Sunday afternoon when the games were long over Swansea City had completed their fairy tale by winning their piece of silverware in 101 years of history with precise, elegant procession football that destroyed their opponents. For a club who were in danger of slipping into non-league football ten years ago, playing in a crumbling stadium and only just managing to pay the players wages this is an incredible transformation. Along with remaining on course for a top-10 finish in the Premier League and playing in Europe next season, it is truly a dream come true for the little club from South Wales and I am sure they will make the most of every second.

Current manager Michael Laudrup is one of the most wanted managers in Europe and in just under a season has taken the club to another level with free flowing, joy-to watch football. Swansea are fast becoming the club others wish to emulate, and we are not just talking about the way they play, the way the club has handled themselves financially is a credit to them, the chairman is brave and ambitious in his decision making – just look at the appointment of Laudrup – and they made many friends last season. If you’re team is losing, fans now turn to see how Swansea are doing, you can’t help but love them.

As for Chelsea, what an awful display against Manchester City, they looked a completely different side from the same eleven players on the pitch that did them so proud to win two competitions. Arrogant, brutish, controversial, Chelsea are fast becoming the team everyone loves to see lose. It is fast turning sour for the London club, and the problems show no sign of abating. With an unpopular ‘interim’ manager – Rafael Benitez – at the helm and constant press reports of team bust ups, rants by the manager and unrelenting abuse by the fans Chelsea face the real prospect of wining nothing this season. The fans truly detest the ‘interim’ manager, the manager himself has now made it clear he will be leaving at the end of the season, the clubs owner has the difficult task of finding a manger that actually wants to manage the club, and the players are exhausted. For the first ten minutes of the match against Manchester City they could barely keep up, City threatening to run riot, as Chelsea resembled a confused and muddled mess.

There are no answers to the mounting problems, and even more alarming is that nobody at the club knows what to do next. It is sad to see, but on the other hand so wonderful to see Swansea doing so well, watching their displays this season, they are now officially my ‘second’ team.

As for what lies ahead for both clubs – Chelsea and Swansea – I think  – it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – will sum their season up pretty well.

(Photo: Jon Super/Associated Press)


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