Post by Football News on May 14, 2018 11:26:39 GMT
Swansea 1-2 Stoke
Relegated Stoke take Swansea down into Championship with them
There was a funereal feel about this fixture as Stoke, who were already relegated, condemned Swansea to spending next season in the Championship alongside them. Swansea, in truth, were resigned to their fate on Wednesday night, after Huddersfield grabbed an unlikely point at Chelsea, meaning that Carlos Carvalhal’s side needed a footballing miracle on the final day of the season to survive. That never looked like materialising as Swansea’s seven-year stay in the Premier League ended in defeat and amid no little anger in the stands.
Huw Jenkins was not at the game but his name was sung frequently and not in a complimentary way as the supporters directed their frustration at the chairman and the board. “You greedy bastards, get out of our club”, “We want our club back”, and “We want Jenkins out” all got an airing as the exasperation that has been simmering away for so long bubbled over.
In that respect the action on the pitch felt like a sideshow at times, especially given that it was never remotely likely that Swansea would win, Southampton would lose and there would be a 10-goal swing in the process – the set of circumstances that Carvalhal’s team needed to preserve their Premier League status.
Even the first part of that equation – a home victory – proved beyond Swansea as they succumbed to their 21st league defeat of a miserable season, despite taking the lead through Andy King’s early goal and registering 26 shots on a day when Leon Britton and Ángel Rangel, two club stalwarts, made their final appearances before retiring. One of those efforts on goal was struck by André Ayew and it rather summed up Swansea’s season when Tammy Abraham, on as a second-half substitute, got in the way of the ball and prevented it from going into the net, with Jack Butland, Stoke’s goalkeeper, beaten.
It was a surreal afternoon in so many ways – at one point Stoke’s supporters were chanting for Swansea to score 10, such was their desire to see Mark Hughes, their former manager, relegated with Southampton – and topped off by the sight of Carvalhal reading statistics off a sheet of paper afterwards, saying nothing remotely critical about his own reign and even suggesting that he could still be Swansea’s manager next season. “They [the owners] ask me if I am available to talk about staying,” Carvalhal said.
It felt like a strange comment for Carvalhal to make, not least because it flies in the face of what senior figures at the club think should happen as Swansea approach the huge task of trying to rebuild for the Championship, and it was hard to escape the feeling that the Portuguese was doing little more than saving face prior to his anticipated exit.
Either way, Carvalhal had clearly done his homework before coming into the press conference room afterwards. “We had 18 games, we achieved 20 points since our arrival. We achieved more points in this period than Stoke City, Southampton, Huddersfield, West Brom, Watford and Brighton, and the same points as Leicester,” he said, looking down at his facts and figures. “I don’t want to criticise anybody but it’s a fact that the few points the team did in the first 20 games, with just 13 points, made things very difficult to recover.”
That may well be so and it would be extremely unfair to pin relegation on Carvalhal given the wider problems at the club and the mess that he inherited when he was appointed in December, yet there is also no getting away from the fact that Swansea imploded at a time when they had Premier League survival in their hands. Swansea, 13th at the start of March, failed to win any of their last nine league games – something that Carvalhal attributed, rather dubiously, to the team’s element of “surprise disappearing”.
Stoke, who avoided the ignominy of finishing bottom with this victory, also have a busy summer ahead and it remains to be seen whether Lambert will stay in charge. Badou Ndiaye’s neat finish and Peter Crouch’s close-range header gave Paul Lambert only his second victory in 15 matches, with the Stoke manager claiming afterwards he had been working in difficult circumstances because of the behaviour of a small of group of senior players whom he felt that he had no choice but to alienate. “Anyone that knows me knows I’m fair but my standards are high, and I wouldn’t have accepted that anywhere,” Lambert said.