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OTJ column: My Swans awards

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.

So, there we have it. The 2018-19 season is over and it is one that I feel was a positive one for Swansea City.

It is customary at this time of year to be handing out gongs and prizes, so for this column I thought I’d take a look at some of the stand-out individuals and moments from an enjoyable campaign.

Player of the Season – Matt Grimes

I know Matt Grimes won the Supporters’ Player of the Year award at the club’s end-of-season bash and he takes the same prize for me.

You could go through most of the team and there are candidates. Oli McBurnie would be right up there, for example. But in terms of the expectation fans had at the start of the season, and as it got under way, they were not sure about him.

I think some had made their mind up about him already. So for him to completely turn that on its head, and perform so consistently is just incredible.

Whatever role he has been asked to do he has been excellent, but in the middle of the park in terms of touch, getting attacks going…he has been really impressive.

His is an important role for Swansea. I still see people say that he may make a lot of passes but most of them are short ones that go sideways or backwards. Those are people who had already made their mind up about him and are unwilling to change their mind.

Doing what Matt Grimes does is incredibly important in a possession-based side. That ability to recycle the ball, to not rush things but build things right. It should also be said that when the forward pass is on, he plays it.

He has a great range of passing, his ability to rake those cross-field passes gives Swansea something they have not had since Ferrie Bodde played.

He still has a little way to go but, in possession, he is the complete package.

Game of the Season – Manchester City

It has been a season where there have been good games. There has been genuine enjoyment and excitement. It’s not always gone Swansea’s way, but I can imagine fans going home after a number of games having enjoyed themselves.

The Leeds game in the league at home was a great game against a side tipped to do well under Marco Bielsa, but the Manchester City one has to have the edge.

I know Swansea lost, but to run City as close as anybody with a great way of playing was so impressive. There were patterns of play that showed everything about where Swansea want to go. It was genuine tactical know-how allied to freedom to play and express yourself.

It’s not like City played a second-string side, or as if Swansea just put men behind the ball to defend. They really gave them a run for their money.

It was a controversial way to lose, but the game had everything and it was just a thrilling occasion. It was on a knife-edge, full of drama.

Goal of the Season – Bersant Celina v Manchester City

So it follows that it is a no-brainer that Bersant Celina’s goal from that game is my best goal of the season.

It was a moment that encapsulated why Graham Potter has been linked with other jobs recently.

I genuinely believe he will still be at Swansea next season, but he deserves that recognition that he is going a fine job and this goal is the definitive blueprint of him as a manager.

That goal does not just happen, no team an just turn up and put together a move like that against opposition of that calibre.

The pattern of the play, the movement to create space off the ball has been run through time and again.

This is a manager who knows how to get the team playing, and that goal was perfection.

Breakthrough of the Season – Daniel James

That was the goal of the season but the moment of the season was Daniel James’ goal against Brentford and he has been the breakthrough star of the season.

He has almost come from nowhere. I think people knew about Connor Roberts and Oli McBurnie and maybe Joe Rodon, but less so about Dan.

He came in and played well, looked dangerous for a number of games, but that goal in the FA Cup just took it to a different level. It almost made him a star, an internet sensation.

That electric pace and the excitement of a player like that just leaps out at you.

He has matured so quickly. At age-grade level he looked like a quick winger but there are loads of them out there.

But he has added so much quality and consistency. He is dangerous game in and game out.

For him to break into the Wales XI so soon, and be so important, has been incredible.

The speed of his progression has been astonishing. If you had said to me at the start of the season that he would be a Wales starter on merit in March, I would not have believed you and fair play to him.

Signing of the Season – Connor Roberts

I think of the new signings I think Cameron Carter-Vickers deserves a special mention for how he has performed on loan, while Bersant Celina has shown he has quality.

I think Celina is a player who leaves you wanting more, but I think there is more to come. His talent is evident and is someone you always want to see out on the pitch.

But, to turn things around a little bit, I actually thought getting Connor Roberts signed up to a new deal was the signing of the season.

Over that first half of the campaign Connor was in fantastic form and was attracting some interest. We spoke less about him in the second half of the season, but he was still excellent.

He was one of the first names on the Swansea teamsheet, and he had managed to dislodge Chris Gunter – long viewed as immovable object at right back – at international level.

That is down to his performances and he has been excellent. There were concerns about him, so to get Connor and Rodon to sign on was very important.

Funniest Moment – Swansea City Media v Staff football match

On a lighter note I have no hesitation telling you the funniest moment of the season for me was the football match between the local and club media and the Swans’ staff.

It was an enjoyable afternoon but I could not help but find myself chuckling as I watched guys who occasionally hand out stick to players try and strut their stuff themselves.

A few of the lads who played used to give me a four in their match ratings, I can tell you they were lucky I wasn’t dishing out ratings on their showing back in December!

Character of the Season – Oli McBurnie

In any dressing room you always need strong characters and Oli McBurnie strikes me as one of those.

I don’t know him but he seems like such a good guy.

When I played for Hibs I was team-mates with a lad called Jason Cummings, someone I think Oli knows well through the Scotland set-up.

So if you are friends with Jason Cummings, who is an absolute loose cannon and such a funny character, that sums Oli up. If you are rolling in those circles you must be a lively character.

I am sure from a media perspective there are things he does that have people at the club pulling their hair out but I like and respect that.

He is his own man, he is comfortable in his own skin and will not just toe the line. He is strong enough to know what he thinks and is not scared to say it.

You can only respect that when so many players say so little in the modern game. I love it, and he deserves special mention for how he has performed too. He is an important figure in terms of what he brings to the team.

Person of the Season – Alan Curtis

When it comes to the person of the season, I cannot speak highly enough of the job Potter has done, but given his service to the club it can only be one man: Alan Curtis.

He has been milking his farewell to be fair, but he deserves it!

He is such a special man, not just as a football man but just as a human being.

Everything that needs to be said about him, has been said and for obvious reasons it simply has to be Alan Curtis.

Listen to OTJ’s regular podcast - The Longman's Football World Podcast – on iTunes, PodBean and all good podcast apps.
You can also follow OTJ on Instagram and Twitter.

 

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Chwaraewr y Tymor – Matt Grimes

Dwi’n gwybod bod Matt Grimes wedi ennill Chwaraewr y Tymor yn ôl y cefnogwyr yng ngwobrau diwedd tymor y clwb, ac mae’n cael yr un wobr gen i.

Fe allen i fynd drwy’r tîm ac mae ‘na rai sy’n haeddu cael eu hystyried. Byddai Oli McBurnie yno’n cystadlu, er enghraifft. Ond o ran disgwyliadau’r cefnogwyr ar ddechrau’r tymor, doedden nhw ddim yn siwr am Grimes.

Dwi’n meddwl bod rhai wedi gwneud eu meddyliau i fyny amdano’n barod. Felly i Grimes fynd a throi hynny ar ei ben, a pherfformio mor gyson, mae hynny’n hollol wych.

Dim ots pa bynnag rôl mae’n gorfod chwarae, mae Grimes wedi bod yn arbennig, ond yng nghanol y cae o ran ei gyffyrddiad a dechrau’r ymosodiadau... mae o wedi dal y llygad.

Mae ei rôl yn un bwysig i Abertawe. Dwi’n gweld pobl sy’n dal i ddweud ei fod o’n pasio ormod am yn ôl, neu’n pasio’n fyr i’r ochr yn unig. Mae’r bobl hynny’n rai sydd wedi penderfynu beth oedden nhw’n meddwl amdano ac yn anfodlon newid eu meddyliau.

Mae gwneud beth mae Matt Grimes yn ei wneud yn hynod o bwysig mewn tîm sy’n dibynnu ar feddiant. Y gallu i ailgylchu’r bêl, i beidio brysio pethau ond adeiladu’n raddol. Fe ddylai gael ei nodi hefyd ei fod o’n ddigon parod i basio’r bêl ymlaen, pan mae’r bas yn bosib.

Mae ganddo amrywiaeth gwych yn ei basio, y gallu i daro pas hir ar draws cae a rhoi rhywbeth i Abertawe sydd wedi bod ar goll ers i Ferrie Bodde chwarae.

Er bod ‘na ffordd i fynd ganddo, ar y bêl, mae ganddo’r pecyn cyflawn.

Gêm y Tymor – Manchester City

Mae hi wedi bod yn dymor gyda gemau gwych. Mae ‘na fwynhad go iawn wedi bod a thipyn o gyffro. Dydi hi ddim wedi mynd o blaid Abertawe bob tro, ond alla i ddychmygu bod y cefnogwyr wedi mynd adre ar ôl nifer o gemau wedi mwynhau eu hunain.

Roedd y gêm gartref yn y gynghrair yn erbyn Leeds yn gêm yn erbyn tîm oedd i fod i wneud mor dda o dan Marcelo Bielsa, ond mae’n rhaid mai gêm Man City ydi’r un fwyaf cofiadwy.

Dwi’n gwybod bod Abertawe wedi colli, ond roedd hi mor drawiadol i weld y tîm yn gwthio City mor agos gyda dull mor atyniadol o chwarae. Roedd ‘na batrymua o chwarae oedd yn dangos popeth am le mae Abertawe eisiau mynd. Roedd ‘na gyfuniad o strwythur tactegol a rhyddid i fynd i chwarae a mynegi eu hunain ar y bêl.

Wnaeth City ddim chwarae ei hail dîm o bell ffordd, a wnaeth Abertawe ddim rhoi dynion tu ôl y bêl i amddiffyn chwaith. Fe wnaethon ni wthio City reit i’r terfyn.

Roedd hi’n ffordd ddadleuol i golli, ond roedd ‘na dipyn bach o bopeth yn y gêm ac achlysur sy’n aros yn y cof – llawn tensiwn, llawn drama.

Gôl y Tymor – Bersant Celina v Manchester City

Mae hi’n dilyn yn rhwydd iawn mai gôl Bersant Celina o’r gêm honno ydi fy newis i fel gôl orau’r tymor.

Roedd hi’n eiliad sy’n crynhoi pam bod Graham Potter wedi cael ei gysylltu gyda swyddi eraill yn ddiweddar.

Dwi wir yn credu y bydd Potter dal yn Abertawe’r tymor nesaf, ond mae o’n haeddu cydnabyddiaeth ei fod yn gwneud gwaith gwirioneddol dda ac roedd y gôl hon yn ei dangos ei ddulliau fel rheolwr yn berffaith.

Dydi’r gôl yna ddim jyst yn digwydd – does ‘na ddim tîm yn gallu troi i fyny a rhoi’r math yna o symudiad at ei gilydd yn erbyn y math yna o wrthwynebwyr.

Roedd patrwm y chwarae a’r y symudiad i greu’r lle oddi ar y bêl wedi cael ei ymarfer dro ar ôl tro.

Mae hwn yn reolwr sy’n gwybod sut i gael ei dîm i chwarae, ac roedd y gôl yna’n berffaith.

Seren Newydd – Daniel James

Efallai mai honno oedd gôl orau’r tymor, ond eiliad orau’r tymor oedd gôl Daniel James yn erbyn Brentford ac heb os, James ydi seren newydd y tymor.

Fe ddaeth o bron o nunlle. Dwi’n meddwl bod pobl yn ymwybodol o Connor Roberts ac Oli McBurnie, efallai Joe Rodon, ond gwybod llawer llai am Dan.

Fe ddaeth o i mewn i’r tîm a chwarae’n dda ac edrych yn beryglus am nifer o gemau, ond y gôl yna yng Nghwpan FA Lloegr aeth â fo i’r lefel nesaf. Bu bron i’r gôl ei wneud o’n seren, yn hit feiral ar-lein.

Mae cyflymder trydanol chwaraewr fel Dan yn neidio allan atoch chi.

Mae o wedi aeddfedu mor sydyn hefyd. Tra’n chwarae pêl-droed ieuenctid, roedd o’n edrych fel asgellwr cyflym ond mae ‘na lwyth o gwmpas.

Ond mae ‘na gymaint o safon a chysondeb yn ei gêm. Mae o’n beryglus bob tro mae o’n chwarae.

Mae’r ffordd mae James wedi torri i mewn i dîm cyntaf Cymru mor gyflym, a bod mor bwysig i’r tîm, wedi bod yn anhygoel.

Mae pa mor gyflym mae o’n gwella wedi bod yn rhyfeddol. Tasech chi wedi dweud wrtha i ar ddechrau’r tymor y byddai’n dechrau gemau i Gymru ym mis Mawrth, fydden i ddim wedi eich credu chi. Chwarae teg i’r hogyn.

Cytundeb y Tymor – Connor Roberts

Mae ‘na sawl chwaraewr newydd yn haeddu sylw – Cameron Carter-Vickers am y ffordd mae o wedi perfformio ar fenthyg, tra bod Bersant Celina wedi dangos ei ddoniau hefyd.

Dwi’n meddwl bod Celina yn chwarae sy’n eich gadael chi eisiau mwy, ond mae ‘na lawer mwy i ddod. Mae ei dalent yn amlwg ac yn rhywun rwyt ti wastad eisiau ei weld ar y cae.

Ond, i droi pethau ar eu pen, dwi’n meddwl mai cael Connor Roberts i arwyddo cytundeb newydd oedd y llofnod pwysicaf y tymor yma.

Dros hanner cynta’r tymor, roedd Connor ar rediad gwych ac yn tynnu sylw llawer o glybiau. Fe wnaethon ni siarad amdano llai yn ail hanner y tymor, ond roedd o dal yn perfformio’n wych.

Ei enw oedd un o’r cyntaf ar restr tîm Abertawe, a llwyddodd i gymryd lle Chris Gunter fel cefnwr dde ar y lefel rhyngwladol.

Mae hynny i lawr i’w berfformiadau ac maen nhw wedi bod yn wych. Roedd ‘na ambell un yn poeni amdano, felly roedd cael Connor a Rodon i arwyddo yn bwysig iawn.

Eiliad fwyaf doniol – gêm y wasg yn erbyn y staff

Ar nodyn ysgafnach, dwi ddim yn mynd i oedi wrth ddweud wrthoch chi mai eiliad fwyaf doniol y tymor i fi oedd y gêm bêl-droed rhwng aelodau’r wasg leol a staff y clwb.

Roedd o’n bnawn dymunol iawn ond allen i ddim â stopio fy hun rhag chwerthin wrth i fi wylio ambell un sy’n barod i feirniadau’r chwaraewyr yn dangos eu ‘sgiliau’.

Roedd ‘na sawl un o’r hogiau oedd yn arfer rhoi sgôr o bedwar allan o ddeg i fi fel chwaraewr yn lwcus iawn nad oeddwn i’n dobsarthu’r sgoriau, ‘nôl yn mis Rhagfyr!

Cymeriad y Tymor – Oli McBurnie

Mewn unrhyw stafell newid, mae wastad angen cymeriadau cryf ac mae Oli McBurnie yn fy nharo i fel un o’r rheiny.

Dwi ddim yn ei adnabod o ond mae’n ymddangos fel boi da.

Pan on i’n chwarae i Hibs, roedd ‘na hogyn o’r enw Jason Cummings yn y garfan, rhywun dwi’n meddwl mae Oli yn ei adnabod yn dda gyda’i gysylltiadau â’r Alban.

Felly os wyt ti’n ffrindiau gyda Jason Cummings, sy’n gymeriad gwyllt a doniol, mae hynny’n crynhoi Oli hefyd. Os wyt ti’n troi yn y cylchoedd hynny, mae’n rhaid dy fod di’n gymeriad bywiog!

Dwi’n siwr bod staff cyfryngau’r clwb yn tynnu gwallt eu pen allan ond dwi’n hoffi ac yn parchu McBurnie.

Mae o’n bod yn fo ei hun, yn gyfforddus yn ei groen ei hun a dydio ddim yn mynd i ddilyn unrhyw sgript. Mae o’n ddigon cryf i wybod beth mae o’n ei feddwl a dydio ddim yn ofn dweud ei farn chwaith.

Mae’n rhaid i ti barchu hynny, gyda chymaint o chwaraewyr yn dweud cyn lleied yn y gêm fodern. Dwi wrth fy modd gyda’i agwedd, ac mae’n haeddu sylw hefyd am y ffordd mae wedi perfformio. Mae ei gyfraniad i’r tîm yn un pwysig.

Person y Tymor – Alan Curtis

Pan mae hi’n dod i berson y tymor, alla i ddim rhoi gormod o glod i Potter, ond oherwydd ei wasanaeth i’r clwb, mae’n rhaid dewis un dyn: Alan Curtis.

I fod yn deg, mae o wedi bod yn godro ei ffarwel braidd, ond mae o’n ei haeddu!

Mae o’n ddyn arbennig iawn, nid dim ond fel dyn pêl-droed, ond fel person hefyd.

Mae popeth sydd angen cael ei ddweud amdano wedyn cael ei ddweud. Mae’n syml iawn – mae’n rhaid dewis Alan Curtis.

Cadwch lygad allan am bodlediad OTJ - The Longman's Football World Podcast – ar iTunes, Podbean a phob ap podlediad dda.

Dilynwch OTJ ar Instagram (@owaintudurjones) a Twitter (@OwainTJones17).

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