Hartson on Swansea
Swansea supporter John Hartson gives us his take on the club as they aim to win their first major trophy in the Capital One Cup final against Bradford City on Sunday.
By Adam Bate - Follow @GhostGoal
Last Updated: 22/02/13 10:39am
You're a Swansea boy aren't you?
Swansea is in my heart. I'm a Swansea fan and I was born and bred in Swansea. I played for some of the biggest clubs in Britain with Celtic and Arsenal. But Swansea is always the club I have looked out for. I'm back living in Swansea with my family and they've all got season tickets. I've personally got two season tickets for me and my son who is currently playing for the Swansea academy. So it's my club.
Give us an idea what this will mean to the city?
It's huge for the city. Hopefully the fans are going to enjoy the trip to Wembley. There are 33,000 fans travelling from South Wales. Grandads, children, cousins, uncles, mothers and fathers. So it will be an opportunity to enjoy their day and hopefully it goes well for them.
What's been the key to the club's rise for you - shrewd managerial appointments?
I think a lot of people need to take a lot of credit at Swansea. All the ex-managers that worked their way up and even worked against a little bit of adversity with the problems that they've had. The players that have been there over the years. Everybody has played their part in Swansea's rise.
In particular, the board and the chairman Huw Jenkins who has got every single managerial appointment absolutely spot on. Every manager has taken us that little step further. The way they play football started under Roberto Martinez, this system of the one striker, the two wide men and the two holding midfield players.
A lot of teams are envious of Swansea, the way the play football and the philosophy. It's fantastic to watch and Swansea City have gained a lot of admirers over the last five or six years.
There was some talk of a divided dressing room in the early months under Michael Laudrup. How much credit does he deserve for getting Swansea here?
Well I'd like to see a happy dressing room if that was a divided one! They're sitting in the top 10 of the Premier League and they've got a cup final to look forward to. Laudrup has been exceptional.
There were a few questions asked when Brendan Rodgers left. But Laudrup has come in and made some great signings in Michu, Chico Flores, Pablo Hernandez and Ki Sung-Yueng. He's also brought Ben Davies in. Some of the decisions he's made for the good of the club deserve an enormous amount of credit because whoever had come in after Rodgers had a really difficult task.
Rodgers took us somewhere we hadn't been for 30 years so it was always going to be a difficult job to replace him but Laudrup has taken to it like a duck to water. He's not looked back at all, it's all been forward and it's all been very positive.
Is there any danger of complacency against Bradford?
I quite like the noises coming out of Swansea this week, particularly from Ashley Williams. He doesn't like that favourites tag. Swansea will treat this like another Premier League game. They will not underestimate their opponents. Bradford City have beaten three Premier League sides on their way to the final. They deserve respect for what they've done and if they are approaching it like that Swansea are going into the game with the right mental attitude.
We have all seen the favourites get beaten. We saw it a few years ago with Birmingham beating Arsenal, although that was two Premier League sides. We've got a team here that play three divisions below Swansea and are 11th in that particular division so they're not exactly flying. But in this competition they've been absolutely outstanding so Swansea would be very naïve to underestimate Bradford's challenge.
I don't think they will. I think Swansea will be mentally ready for this. When giant-killing acts happen, yes the underdog plays well, but it is normally a lack of concentration and a little bit of a lack of respect from the stronger side that helps cause the upset.
So what is your prediction for the game?
I think Swansea will win. They should win as they have the better players and they play a great style of football. But Bradford are very dangerous opponents. Phil Parkinson has done a fabulous job there and they've got some good players. In particular, the lad Nakhi Wells who plays up front for them and scores a lot of goals. So it will be a tough match but I do think Swansea will win.
Capital One is providing thousands of Bradford City and Swansea City supporters with free coach travel to the Capital One Cup Final at Wembley on 24th February. For more information on the 'Capital One Convoy' go to www.facebook.com/capitaloneuk.