Sunday, February 24th, 2013 - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – for Swansea, an elegant performance to win the Football League Cup Final. For Chelsea, a haphazard, lethargic losing display in what was a must win game against Manchester City.
Swansea City completed their fairy tale of winning their piece of silverware in 101 years of history with precise procession football that destroyed Bradford City in the final of the Football League Cup yesterday. 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 the ‘best of times’ for the little club from South Wales.
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.
Then there is Chelsea - arrogant, brutish, controversial, a club most fans love to see lose. After winning the Champions League last year, it is fast turning sour for the London club, and the ‘worst of time’s’ show no sign of abating. With an unpopular ‘interim’ manager – Rafael Benitez - at the helm and despite being third in the League, Chelsea face the real prospect of wining nothing this season. The fans have turned on the manager, the players are exhausted and in the game against Manchester City there was very little evidence of any drive, enthusiasm or passion within the team who were so exciting to watch last year. For the first ten minutes of the match they could barely keep up, with City threatening to run riot, as Chelsea resembled a confused and muddled mess – on the pitch, in the dressing room and in the way the club is being run.
What is more alarming is that nobody seems to have any answers. Benitez inherited the mess, but has done little to resolve the problems, if anything exaggerating them by dropping popular captain John Terry.
The tale of these two cities makes a very interesting story, Chelsea and Swansea were in very different places ten months ago, but fortunes change and if Swansea can hold onto their manager and players there are exciting times ahead. As for Chelsea it’s all looking pretty blue.