OTJ Column: The future looks bright
In his 18th column of the season, former midfielder Owain Tudur Jones assesses Swansea City's late play-off hopes, pays tribute to the great Alan Curtis and reveals which Swans has proved him wrong this season.
OTJ made 56 appearances for the Swans during a four-year period in which he helped the club win the League One title and the Football League Trophy.
Now, after a 13-year career which saw him play for eight clubs and earn seven Wales caps, he is working in the media as a respected pundit.
Here, he brings you his latest column.
The away jinx is over, and the future looks bright
It does not matter who the win comes against, it was nice for the Swans to get the monkey off their back and get that away victory.
Whatever happens in terms of the play-offs, and I know Graham Potter and his players will be going all out to win all three remaining games and get in there, it is good to get a couple of away wins just to send you into the summer not viewing it as a major issue going forward.
It’s been a season of ups and downs, there’s been highs, there have been frustrations but overall my personal take is that it has been exciting.
I honestly believe if you reflect on the season – even the defeats – I think the fans have enjoyed the season and the taste of Championship football again.
It has brought something different back after a handful of seasons that were not enjoyable, I think the fans have enjoyed watching their team. They do not know what the result will be, how many goals they will see and the brand of football has been good to watch.
And they are still in the play-off chase mathematically, which I think is impressive. I am not going to change my tune, I still think it is very unlikely. It is not a straight shootout, there are other teams there and that makes it harder.
I would not have believed the Swans would still have a chance at this stage so all credit to the players and the staff and – if it proves to be preparation for next season – it is good preparation for next season.
They will have come close even after an up-and-down season. If they can add some consistency there are very positive signs for the future.
Home form a key foundation
A big positive has been the home form, only Manchester City have won at the Liberty in 2019 and we all know what had to happen for the Swans to lose that one.
It’s Swansea’s best run of Liberty form since 2007-08 when I was part of Roberto Martinez’s squad when we won 10 home league games in a row.
I can tell you from that experience that so much of that is about mentality. It puts a spring in your step and you puff your chest out a bit.
You turn up and almost feel invincible, not in an arrogant way, but there is a real buzz you can feel when you are at good form at home. I think the supporters can sense it in this team too.
That was how it was for us, and you can almost feel untouchable. The Liberty is a big pitch and the brand of football suits the team. In possession, the pitch suits the way Graham Potter wants the side to play.
They are making full use of that, and the form has been brilliant, and if you want success your home record is important. You have to have a fortress mentality and they seem to building that.
Oli proves the doubters – and me – wrong
A few people doubted Oli McBurnie at the start of the season, and I have to be honest and put myself in that bracket.
I had not seen a whole lot of him. He had done well on loan, but I was not sure which is maybe down to my own fault of not having done my homework because he has silenced a good few doubters.
I’ve seen a few fans on Twitter over the season say that if Oli got 15 or 20 goals in the season they would get a tattoo of him, so there will be a few tattoo parlours in Swansea getting set for some additional business, although I won’t be doing that myself!
But all credit to him. He is a handful, and he seems to be a bit of a leader in the dressing room. You can trust him alongside you in the trenches and he is important moving forward.
He will feel I do belong here. Not in the Championship so much, but at Swansea City and he can be vital. He brings goals, but he also offers a lot more than that. He has been a real positive.
Farewell to a legend
Since my last column it has been announced that Alan Curtis will retire from coaching at the end of the season to take up the role of honorary club president.
It tells you everything you need to know that as the tributes have poured out for Curt, there has not been a single dissenting word about him. Nobody has a bad word to say about him, and that’s because he is a true gentleman and a trustworthy man.
There is no better thing that you would want people to describe you as. He is an all-round good guy.
Add in the talent he had as a footballer and that is how you create a club legend.
Being a good player is not enough, it is how you are in the community and what you give back.
We are lucky to have a couple more like that in recent times with Leon Britton and Lee Trundle. But Alan is the original one that we have all looked up to and learnt so much from.
He is Swansea City and the likelihood is there will be a statue of him at the Liberty one day and all credit to him for being how he is.
He will be missed but I am sure he will be popping in for a free coffee to see everyone and he is a great sounding board for people because he gives genuine advice with no ulterior motive.
He will still be around, and it takes my memory back to where I first came across him at his testimonial.
I was on trial at the time and probably not as aware of Swansea’s history as I am now.
I can remember him coming on and just thinking ‘Come on, I’m a young guy trying to impress on trial, what is this 50-year-old guy doing coming on the pitch?’
Then he started running at these Premier League full-backs and I was suddenly thinking we could do with him the next season and he could take the last bit of money left for my contract to sign!
From the get-go, it quickly became obvious the appreciation and affection people having for him and it just becomes evident what a great man he is.
Title race over, Europe still to play for
Meanwhile, in the Welsh Premier League that three-horse title race we had hoped for did not quite come down to a thrilling conclusion with TNS retaining the title once more.
There is no doubt they had it harder in previous years, and that came across in how they celebrated. They have been pushed but – when crunch time came – no-one could live with them.
They were not at their previous level over the first half of the season, but over the run in they showed champion form.
To go on a run like they did – I think they are unbeaten in 17 league games – means they thoroughly deserve it. When it really mattered, they went up a notch and kept winning even after the split. They have peaked at the right time.
We still have the Europa League play-offs to come, going into the final weekend it is a case of waiting to see who will have home advantage.
At the moment it looks like Caernarfon will be at home to Cardiff Met in the semi-finals, with Bala and Newtown in the other game.
Caernarfon have beaten all three of their rivals at home this season. Finish fourth and they guarantee home advantage for the semi-final and a potential final.
For me, that gives them the edge. They are the only one of the four who play on grass, the atmosphere will be electric and it will be very tough for any away team so I make them favourites.
Cardiff Met have peaked well but it is a big ask, they are really well-coached by Christian Edwards but Caernarfon are favourites and it will be a big achievement for them if they do it in their first season back in the Welsh Premier League, and I say that through gritted teeth having tipped them for relegation!
Friday 26 April
Bala Town v Caernarfon Town (19.45 – live on S4C)
Barry Town United v Newtown (19.45)
Cardiff Met v Llanelli (19.45)
Carmarthen Town v Aberystwyth Town (19.45)
Llandudno v Cefn Druids (19.45)
The New Saints v Connah’s Quay (19.45)
Fe chwaraeodd OTJ 56 gwaith dros yr Elyrch yn ei bedair blynedd yn y clwb, gan ennill pencampwriaeth League One a’r Football League Trophy yn ystod y cyfnod hwnnw.
Nawr, wedi iddo ymddeol o’r gêm ar ôl 13 blynedd yn chwarae’n broffesiynol, mae Owain nawr yn llais blaenllaw yn y cyfryngau ac yn aelod cyson o dîm Sgorio ar S4C.
Dyma ei golofn ddiweddaraf:
O’r diwedd – buddugoliaeth oddi cartref
Dim ots yn erbyn pwy ddaeth y fuddugoliaeth - dw i just yn falch i weld y Swans yn ennill i ffwrdd o gartref.
Beth bynnag sy’n digwydd gyda’r gemau ail-gyfle, a dw i’n gwybod mai dyna yw nod Graham Potter a’i garfan, mae’n braf peidio gorfod poeni am y record sâl oddi cartref dros yr Haf.
Er ambell i gyfnod rhwystredig, dw i’n meddwl bod o ‘di bod yn dymor cyffrous. Ar y cyfan, dw i’n meddwl fod y cefnogwyr wedi mwynhau bod yn ôl yn y Bencampwriaeth ar ôl sawl tymor anodd. Efallai bod y canlyniad yn ansicr, ond mae dull y tîm o chwarae yn un da i wylio.
Mae ganddyn nhw dal siawns o gyrraedd y gemau ail-gyfle, ond dw i’n meddwl bod hynny’n annhebygol o ddigwydd gyda gymaint o dimoedd eraill yn y ras.
Ond, doeddwn i heb ragweld y byddai’r Elyrch yn agos at y safle yma ar ddechrau’r tymor, felly mae'n rhaid rhoi clod i’r chwaraewyr a’r hyfforddwyr, ac mae’n argoeli’n dda ar gyfer y tymor nesaf.
Y Liberty wedi bod yn gadarnle
Un o’r pethau mwyaf positif y tymor hwn o safbwynt y Swans ydi lefel y perfformiadau yn y Liberty. Dim ond Manchester City sydd wedi gadael Abertawe gyda buddugoliaeth yn 2019, ac roedd hynny dan amgylchiadau amheus i ddweud y lleiaf.
Dyma rediad gorau'r Swans yn y Liberty ers 2007-08, pan ‘naethon ni ennill 10 gêm yn olynol dan arweiniad Roberto Martinez.
Hyder yw’r gyfrinach. ‘Da chi’n teimlo fel tasech chi’n gallu trechu unrhyw dîm ar eich tomen eich hunain, ac mae’r cefnogwyr yn synhwyro hynny hefyd.
Mae’r Liberty yn gae mawr a llydan, ac mae’n siwtio’r ffordd mae’r tîm yn hoffi chwarae.
Os ydych chi eisiau bod yn dîm llwyddiannus, mae’n rhaid bod yn gryf gartref ac adeiladu ar hynny. Dyna yw’r her wrth edrych tua’r dyfodol.
Oli yn arweinydd i’r tîm
Mae rhai wedi cwestiynu Oli McBurnie ar ddechrau’r tymor, ac mae’n rhaid i mi gyfaddef, doeddwn i ddim yn siŵr sut fyddai’n ymdopi fel ein prif ymosodwr.
Doeddwn i heb weld llawer ohono, er iddo wneud yn dda ar fenthyg gyda chlybiau eraill. Ond am dymor mae o ‘di gael, ac yn sicr mae o wedi profi sawl un yn anghywir.
Dw i’n cofio gweld rhai cefnogwyr ar Twitter yn dweud ar ddechrau’r tymor y bydden nhw’n cael tatŵ o Oli os fyddai’n sgorio 15 neu 20 o goliau. Felly dw i’n meddwl bydd na ambell i siop tatŵ yn mwynhau ychydig o fusnes ychwanegol yn reit fuan, er na fydda’ i’n ymuno efo nhw!
Ond pob clod iddo. Mae o’n llond llaw i amddiffynwyr ac yn arweinydd i’w dîm. Fydd o’n teimlo ei fod yn perthyn i’r clwb erbyn rŵan ac mae hynny’n beth pwysig, Mae’n sgorio digon o goliau, ond mae ganddo gymaint mwy i’w gynnig hefyd. Mae o wedi bod yn bresenoldeb positif iawn y tymor hwn.
Ffarwel i Arwr Abertawe
Ers fy ngholofn ddiwethaf, mae’r cyhoeddiad wedi’i wneud y bydd Alan Curtis yn ymddeol o hyfforddi ar ddiwedd y tymor, i ymgymryd â rôl fel arlywydd anrhydeddus y clwb.
Mae dwsinau o deyrngedau’n cael eu talu iddo, ond does gan ddim un ohonynt air drwg i ddweud amdano. Dyn heb ei ail.
Gan ystyried y ddawn bêl-droed oedd ganddo, does dim rhyfedd mai Curtis yw un o wir anfarwolion y clwb. Mae bod yn chwaraewr da yn bwysig, ond mae’r hyn ti’n gyfrannu i’r gymuned ac i’r cefnogwyr yn bwysicach fyth.
Mae Curtis yn symboleiddio Clwb Pêl Droed Abertawe, ac mae’n debygol y gwelwn ni gerflun ohono tu allan i’r Liberty un diwrnod.
Fy atgof cyntaf ohono yw dod ar ei draws yn ystod ei gêm Testimonial, mewn cyfnod pan efallai nad oeddwn i’n gwybod llawer am hanes y clwb.
Roeddwn i ar gyfnod trial gyda’r clwb a bron a marw eisiau dod ymlaen yn ystod y gêm, ond wrth weld o’n camu ar y cae o’m mlaen i, yr oll oeddwn i’n meddwl oedd, ‘Pwy ‘di’r dyn 50 oed ma’ sy’n dod ar y cae?’
Wedyn dyma fo’n dechrau trio rhedeg heibio amddiffynwyr oedd yn chwarae yn y Premier League gan roi amser caled iddyn nhw! Yn sydyn iawn nes i ddechrau meddwl dylen ni geisio arwyddo fo ar gyfer y tymor nesaf!
Ras y Bencampwriaeth ar ben, ond Ewrop dal yn y fantol
Yn Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD, mae’r Seintiau Newydd wedi sicrhau’r Bencampwriaeth unwaith eto. Oeddwn i wedi gobeithio gweld y ras rhyngddyn nhw, Cei Connah a’r Barri, yn parhau tan y penwythnos y ola’, ond pan ddaeth adeg bwysica’r tymor, doedd dim cystadleuaeth.
Mae’n rhaid cofio mai hon oedd y tymor anodda’ iddyn nhw ers talwm, heb os. Ond maen nhw’n llawn haeddu ennill ar ôl rhediad rhyfeddol ar ddiwedd y tymor - 17 gêm heb golli - rhediad sy’n adrodd cyfrolau.
Gyda phenwythnos ola’r tymor rheolaidd ar y gorwel, cawn weld pwy fydd yn sicrhau’r fantais o gael chwarae gartref yng ngemau ail-gyfle Cynghrair Ewropa.
Ar y funud, mae’n edrych fel y bydd Caernarfon yn croesawu Met Caerdydd i’r Ofal yn y gêm gynderfynol, gyda’r Bala gartref yn erbyn y Drenewydd yn y llall.
Mae Caernarfon wedi trechu’r tri tîm arall, a gyda’r dorf swnllyd tu ôl iddyn nhw, mi awgrymai mai’r Caneris yw’r ffefrynnau - er i mi ragweld mai nhw fyddai’n mynd i lawr ar ddechrau’r tymor!
Dydd Gwener 26 Ebrill
Y Bala v Caernarfon (19.45 – yn fyw ar S4C)
Y Barri v Y Drenewydd (19.45)
Met Caerdydd v Llanelli (19.45)
Caerfyrddin v Aberystwyth (19.45)
Llandudno v Derwyddon Cefn (19.45)
YSN v Cei Connah (19.45)
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