Leon calls for big performance
8th February 2014
Leon Britton says its time for the players to stand up and be counted ahead of today's South Wales derby.
The Swans welcome Cardiff to the Liberty Stadium in what has already been billed as the most important clash between the two clubs in recent history.
Both sides are struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table after a poor run of form, while today's visitors hold the bragging rights following a 1-0 win at the Cardiff City Stadium back in November.
Since then, Swansea have won twice in the league to sit a mere two points clear of the relegation zone.
Following last weekend's defeat to West Ham, the club parted company with manager Michael Laudrup on Tuesday, with Garry Monk taking over as Head Coach at the Liberty Stadium.
And Britton has called for a show of unity ahead of what promises to be a crucial evening in SA1.
"We owe a performance and we need to step up our game," said the midfielder. "Both teams are down there after a bad run of form and both clubs need the points.
"Every game and every point is vital now and we need to start getting back to where we know we can be.
"Both teams are in a relegation fight, there's no two ways about it. Back in November there were more games to play, but now it's a bit different.
"It's a new experience for us since we've been in the Premier League, but now is the time to roll your sleeves up, dig in and scrap for points.
"The reverse fixture was the first derby in the top flight, but with the position that both teams now find themselves in, there is a lot more importance on this game."
There has been no shortage of talking points in the build-up to today's game, with both clubs having experienced managerial change in recent weeks.
Cardiff replaced Malky Mackay with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last month, while Garry Monk takes charge of the Swans for the first time this afternoon.
Solskjaer earned his first league win last weekend with a 2-1 success over Norwich - while the Swans suffered a disappointing defeat to West Ham.
And Britton revealed the disappointment amongst the squad after that setback at Upton Park.
"It was disappointing because we'd beaten Fulham a few days before," he said. "They were a direct rival in terms of league position and that was a massive win for us.
"We wanted to go to West Ham and follow that up with another performance and a positive result.
"It was frustrating, and we have to hold our hands up and admit that we didn't play well. We wanted to make sure that they didn't pick up any points either but unfortunately that wasn't the case."
But today's game represents a chance for redemption.
The reverse fixture didn't go according to plan back in November, with Cardiff claiming all three points on a disappointing afternoon for the Swans.
However, as Britton explains, improvements need to be made on the field as he seeks a third derby win.
"It was disappointing, first and foremost because we lost the game," he said. "But again, we have to hold our hands up and say that we didn't perform well enough on the day.
"The better team won and obviously that hurts. I've been on the receiving end of a few defeats in the derby, and won a few as well.
"But the ones you lose are horrible and you don't want to do anything or leave the house or pick up a paper for a couple of days after.
"I've been here a long time and got a great affection for the football club - I know what this game means to the supporters.
"I've also made a lot of friends in Swansea over the years and you don't want to let them down."
Much has been made of the atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium this season compared to years gone by.
Since winning promotion to the Premier League and last year's Capital One Cup triumph, a cauldron of noise was ever-present in SA1.
But as Britton explains, the players have more than their part to play in helping to make the Liberty a fortress once more.
"I think it's a two-way thing," he said. "As a team, we've got to give the fans something. Sometimes we haven't played well and it has been flat, which is understandable.
"But there are other times when they have been right behind us, and I'm sure Saturday will be no different in that respect.
"It's a tea-time kick off and I'm sure the atmosphere will be electric."
With a sell-out crowd in attendance at the Liberty Stadium, the eyes of the world will be on South Wales with today's game being screened all over the globe.
And in what could be one of the most ferociously contested derbies in history, Britton issued a defiant message to the Jack Army.
"Just keep the belief and keep backing the boys," he said. "The players here are desperate to do well, and we all want to turn this around.
"We need to all stick together; fans, players and staff - even more so in these difficult moments.
"It's easy when things are going well, but when times are tough we need to be together. I witnessed that back in 2003 when we avoided relegation - the fans dragged us through that year.
"I'm just asking the fans to stick with us because we need a result. Somehow we need to get it."