Jack the Lad: Relish the challenge

18th September

Loyal fan and website columnist Jack the Lad reckons the Swans will be up for the challenge as they get set for two tricky away trips in the space of a few days.

When people talk about the Championship being a tough league, it is probably weeks like this they're thinking of.

The Swans face a testing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday schedule, with two of the matches involving lengthy away journeys.

Last Saturday’s home match against Nottingham Forest was a tough assignment.

But it’s the kind of fixture players and fans really look forward to.

Although Forest have been through some tough times, they are still an attractive name in British football having twice won the European Cup.

They certainly made things difficult for the Swans at the weekend, providing them with a testing physical challenge.

And things are not about to get any easier as we get down to the real nitty gritty of life in the Championship over the next few days.

With all due respect to Stoke and Middlesbrough, you could hardly describe them as two of the glamour clubs of English football.

But they are two of the most difficult places to visit if you have ambitions of returning with the points – especially when you have to make both trips in such a short space of time.

These are the kinds of combinations of fixtures that can really define a season in the Championship.

But one thing this Swans side has shown already this season is that they have no fear of going to venues which have reputations for being difficult for visiting sides.

The remarkable win at Millwall having gone a player down, captain down and goal down will already be a candidate for result of the season – and we’re only in September.

Wins like that one give everyone a massive morale boost.

The Jack Army will be relishing the challenge ahead as they head north twice this week.

Stoke’s bet365 Stadium has a reputation of being one of the loudest in English football.

But the city itself has historically proved a difficult destination for the Swans over the years.

We haven't won there since 2001, when first-half goals from Jason Price and Kris O'Leary were enough to give the Swans a surprise 2-1 victory.

And you have to go back another 20 years for another Swans win in Stoke. However, that win was a particularly memorable one.

Another 2-1 win, this time at the Victoria Ground, saw the Swans go top of the old First Division for the first time in their history thanks to goals from Gary Stanley and Bob Latchford.

So with just two wins in Stoke over the past 37 years, history suggests tonight's match with be tough.

Meanwhile, Saturday's trip to Middlesbrough is one the longest away jaunts the Swans will face this season.

The last time the Swans visited the Riverside Stadium they were defeated 3-0 in the Premier League two years ago, but there are much happier memories from the previous visit in 2011.

Goals from Nathan Dyer, Scott Sinclair, Ashley Williams and a 90th-minute strike from Craig Beattie gave the Swans a thrilling 4-3 win when they had trailed 3-1 after an hour.

It’s going to be a tough assignment for both the players and supporters over the next few days.

But one thing Graham Potter's team has shown this season is that they relish a challenge.

There’s a rather unkind stereotype about the North of England summed up by the saying ‘it’s grim up north’.

Well hopefully, this week it will only be grim for the supporters of Stoke City and Middlesbrough!

C'mon you Swans!