OTJ column: The new Tinkerman

5th October 2018

In his fifth column of the season, former midfielder Owain Tudur Jones gives his views on all things Swansea City.

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 Swansea Way

It is evident to everyone that recent performances have been pretty significant to Swansea fans.

Everyone around the Liberty has wanted a return to the Swansea Way – a passing style which Roberto Martinez brought in.

Having experienced it as a player, pundit and fan, it was something I loved watching.

Graham Potter has said since the day he arrived that he wanted his team to have an identity, and we can see that coming through in the last few games.

The recent performances have been really pleasing, with victory against QPR followed by a draw at Wigan.

The third goal against QPR really is the reference point in how much Potter has improved this team. When you make more than 30 passes and finish the move off with a goal, it gives players more confidence in what they are doing. It also showed the fans the players are doing their best to play the way they want them to.

It takes time to implement a way of playing which Potter wants from his players.

I can relate to that. My style of play was probably better suited to Kenny Jackett during his time as manager, and when Roberto came in I had a big challenge in trying to become suitable to his style.

But this group of players are already showing they are getting close to the level Potter wants them to be at.

In the first half in particular at Wigan, I saw a Swansea team playing with confidence and belief.

Playing the ball in dangerous areas is not something they are doing just for fun. They are dragging the opposition out of position, which worked well considering Wigan were pressing high.

There will be mistakes along the way – it’s part of the process. Matt Grimes was almost punished for one on Tuesday night. But I congratulate him, rather than criticise, for being brave enough to take on the responsibility of playing the ball out from the back. The difference between Martinez’s early time in charge and now is that supporters appreciate what is going on and how difficult it is to execute.

One thing I can guarantee is that the team will get even better with more time on the training pitch. There are not too many midweek games ahead, so Potter will have more time to mould the players.

Home sweet home

The win over QPR was a real shot in the arm for the team as their form at the Liberty needed improving.

I know just how important the Jack Army are, particularly when the Swans are at home.

So a convincing 3-0 win was a result which was just what the doctor ordered.

But no Swans supporter should go into this game with Ipswich just expecting three points.

Ipswich are yet to win in 11 attempts in the league this season, but that first victory will come at some point.

There is a reason why the Championship is renowned as a tough league - because it can serve up an unexpected result.

So Swansea can’t and won’t go into this game in second gear. They will lose otherwise.

Potter doesn’t seem the type of manager who will let the Swans go into the game thinking it is a sure-fire home win.

I played against Ipswich once during my time with Swansea – we drew 2-2 at Portman Road in our first season in the Championship.

I also played there for Norwich’s reserve team. Paul Lambert was Norwich’s first-team manager then while Roy Keane was Ipswich’s boss.

Both watched the game, and I can remember playing centre-back when a ball was cannoned upfield – it still amazes me how high it went – and flew over my head.

I was caught out a little bit, and it looked like the striker was going to be in on goal with the keeper.

But I managed to get the first touch, and it was probably one of the best in my career.

The touch alone, I thought, was enough to persuade Lambert to play me in the next game.

Either that or Keane would be so impressed he’d sign me on a lucrative five-year deal. Neither happened.

Solid as a rock

I’ve spoken about the way in which Swansea have played in possession, but I must commend them for their defensive work.

Any good team will need to solid at the back, and with the second best defensive record in the EFL it’s safe to say Swansea have that.

Mike van der Hoorn is the catalyst at the back – he’s really impressed me. He has stepped up as captain on a number of occasions and he seems to be the player everyone looks at the back.

His partnership with Joe Rodon has been fantastic. Joe continues to impress, and he will learn lots more alongside van der Hoorn.

Six clean sheets in 11 games is impressive – let’s hope we’re celebrating another one on Saturday.

The new Tinkerman

Potter has utilised almost everyone available to him this season, but he’s not made changes for the sake of it

Every manager makes a couple of changes for games, but Potter has really impressed me with the way he has done it.

Take the Wigan game for example. He obviously saw a reason for Kristoffer Nordfeldt to start that game instead of Erwin Mulder.

Mulder has been fantastic, but Potter must have detected a good use for Nordfeldt in that game. Given they picked up another clean sheet, it’s hard to disagree with the choice.

Then there’s playing Roberts on the right wing, with Kyle Naughton behind him. A full-back on the wing? It shouldn’t work, surely?

But Roberts’ energy down that flank has shown Swansea’s natural wingers what they should be bringing to the team.

Even in defence, we have seen Cameron Carter-Vickers come in for Rodon in the game at Stoke and he impressed too.

Another change in formation has seen Matt Grimes move from midfield to left-back.

It’s a list of changes where you wouldn’t be surprised if they failed. Yet Potter has belief in his players and has given them the confidence to play in a position which is alien to them. That says a lot to me about Potter and the squad.

Welsh Premier League

What a week it’s been in the Welsh Premier League.

The New Saints were thumped 4-1 at Cardiff Met. I repeat, The New Saints were thumped 4-1 at Cardiff Met.

TNS rarely lose that convincingly, and it will be interesting to see how they react at Carmarthen this weekend. They have a brilliant record against Carmarthen and I expect them to win, but there is some pressure on TNS as losing two in a row would be new ground for them.

Connah’s Quay are the new leaders after they brushed Carmarthen aside last weekend, and guess what, they visit Cardiff Met on Sunday. What a game that will be.

Met’s win over TNS has opened up the league for clubs like Caernarfon and Bala, who face each other on Friday night in Sgorio’s live game being streamed on Facebook.

That should be a well-contested encounter, and a win could really push one side onto good things this season.

At the bottom, it’s not looking promising for Llanelli.

The league’s new boys have struggled, and they were beaten 3-1 at home to Newtown last weekend.

On Saturday the Reds travel to Llandudno, who themselves have failed to get going so far.

If Llanelli can pick up three points there, it will make the trip home far easier. More importantly, it could kickstart their campaign.

Friday: Caernarfon Town v Bala Town (7.45pm – live on the Sgorio Facebook Live page)
Cefn Druids v Aberystwyth Town (7.45pm)

Saturday: Carmarthen Town v The New Saints (2.30pm)
Llandudno v Llanelli (2.30pm)
Newtown v Barry Town United (2.30pm)

Sunday: Cardiff Met v Connah’s Quay (2.30pm)

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Y Ffordd Abertawe

Mae’n amlwg bod cefnogwyr Abertawe wedi gwerthfawrogi’r perfformiadau diweddar. Roedd pawb eisiau gweld y tîm yn dychwelyd i’r Ffordd Chwedlonol Abertawe - y dull pêl-droed deniadol daeth Roberto Martinez i’r clwb.

Yn yr un modd, ers i Graham Potter gyrraedd y clwb, mae o wedi ceisio gadael ei farc ar y tîm, ac mi ydyn ni ‘di dechrau gweld hynny’n ddiweddar, yn y fuddugoliaeth dros QPR a’r gêm gyfartal yn Wigan.

Roedd y drydedd gôl yn erbyn QPR wir yn arwydd o faint mae Potter wedi gwella’r tîm. Pan mae tîm yn sgorio ar ddiwedd symudiad yn cynnwys 30 o basus, mae hynny’n rhoi hyder i’r chwaraewyr.

Mae’n cymryd amser i chwaraewyr addasu at ffordd newydd o chwarae. Mi allaf i gydymdeimlo â nhw. Pan gyrhaeddodd Roberto, mi oedd hi’n er i mi addasu - mi oeddwn i’n fwy cyfforddus gyda’r ffordd oedd Kenny Jackett eisiau i ni chwarae. Ond mae’r grŵp yma eisoes wedi dangos eu bod nhw’n dechrau arfer â’r dull newydd.

Yn ystod yr hanner cyntaf yn Wigan, fe welsom dîm Abertawe yn chwarae gyda hunan hyder. Mi fydd camgymeriadau ar hyf y ffordd - mae hynny’n rhan o’r broses. Bu bron i Matt Grimes gael ei gosbi wrth geisio chwarae’r bêl allan o’r amddiffyn ar nos Fawrth. Ond yn lle barnu fo, rydw i eisiau ei longyfarch am fod yn ddigon dewr i wneud hynny yn y lle cyntaf. Ac wedi iddyn nhw weld tîm yn addasu yn ystod dyddiau Martinez, mae’r cefnogwyr yn amyneddgar.

Un peth dw i’n sicr ohono ydi bydd y tîm yma’n gwella mwy fyth gyda mwy o amser ar y cae ymarfer. Does dim cymaint o gemau ganol wythnos ar y gorwel, felly mi gaiff Potter fwy o amser gyda’i chwaraewyr.

Does ‘na unman debyg i adref...

Roedd y fuddugoliaeth dros QPR yn hwb anferth i’r tîm oherwydd mi oedd angen iddyn nhw wella’u canlyniadau yn y Liberty.

Dw i’n gwybod yn union beth yw dylanwad y Jack Army, yn enwedig pan mae’r Elyrch yn chwarae gartref.

Felly roedd buddugoliaeth 3-0 yn ganlyniad perffaith. Ond ni ddylai unrhyw gefnogwr ddisgwyl gêm hawdd yn erbyn Ipswich.

Er bod nhw heb fuddugoliaeth yn eu 11 gêm gyntaf, mi wnawn ni hawlio eu tri-phwynt gyntaf rhywbryd. Mae ‘na reswm pam mae’r Bencampwriaeth yn cael ei hystyried fel cynghrair anodd, oherwydd mi all unrhyw beth ddigwydd.

Os dydi’r Swans ddim yn rhoi cant y cant yn y gêm, mi wnawn nhw golli. Yn ffodus, dydi Potter ddim yn edrych fel y math o foi fuasai’n disgwyl tri-phwynt hawdd allan o unrhyw gêm.

Cadarn yn y cefn

Mae’n rhaid i mi ganmol Abertawe ar eu gwaith amddiffynnol. Mae’n rhaid bod yn gadarn yn y gynghrair hon, a gyda’r ail record orau ar hyn o bryd, mae’r Swans wedi profi eu bod ganddyn nhw amddiffyn dibynadwy.

Mike van der Hoorn yw’r arweinydd yn y cefn. Mae wedi cymryd cyfrifoldeb sawl gwaith fel capten, ac mae eu partneriaeth gyda Joe Rodon wedi bod yn galonogol iawn. Mae Joe yn chwarae’n dda ac yn gwella wrth chwarae wrth ymyl van der Hoorn.

Mae chwe llechen lan mewn 11 gêm yn wych - gobeithio mi fydden ni’n dathlu un arall ddydd Sadwrn.

Y Tinkerman newydd

Mae Potter wedi defnyddio bron i bob chwaraewr sydd ganddo hyd yma'r tymor hwn, ond wedi gwneud hynny mewn ffordd resymol.

Er enghraifft, yn y gêm yn erbyn Wigan, roedd ganddo reswm dros ddewis Kristoffer Nordfeldt yn hytrach nag Erwin Mulder.

Ac er i Mulder chwarae’n wych drwy’r tymor hyd yma, fe ddaru Nordfeldt gadw llechen lan – felly gwnaeth y penderfyniad dalu ffordd.

Yn ogystal, fe ddewisodd Connor Roberts i chwarae ar yr asgell o flaen Kyle Naughton. Ac er ei fod yn amddiffynnwr fel rheol, roedd Roberts yn llawn egni ac yn edrych yn gyfforddus iawn ar yr asgell.

Daeth Cameron Catrter-Vickers ymlaen yn lle Rodon yn erbyn Stoke hefyd, ac mi gafodd o gêm dda. A hefyd, mae Matt Grimes wedi cael ei symud o ganol y cae i’r safle cefnwr chwith, ac mae hynny wedi bod yn effeithiol hefyd.

Er mawr syndod, mae’r newidiadau yma wedi bod yn effeithiol iawn. Mae hynny’n adrodd cyfrolau am Potter a’r ffydd sydd ganddo yn y garfan.

Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD

Am wythnos mae hi wedi bod yn Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD.

Mi gafodd Y Seintiau Newydd eu trechu 4-1 draw ym Met Caerdydd. Na, doeddwn i fethu credu’r peth chwaith!

Mi fydd yn ddiddorol gweld ymateb y Seintiau yng Nghaerfyrddin y penwythnos hwn. Dw i yn disgwyl iddyn nhw ennill - mi fyddai colli dwy yn olynol yn torri tir newydd iddyn nhw.

Cei Connah sydd ar y brig ar ôl iddyn nhw hawlio tri phwynt cyfforddus yn erbyn Caerfyrddin penwythnos diwethaf. Pwy sydd ganddyn nhw nesaf? Met Caerdydd - am gêm fydd honno!

Mae buddugoliaeth Met wedi agor y gynghrair i fyny i Gaernarfon a’r Bala, sy’n wynebu ei gilydd yng ngêm fyw Sgorio ar nos Wener, sy’n cael ei dangos ar dudalen Facebook Sgorio yn unig. Mi fydd honno’n gracar o gêm gystadleuol.

Ar waelod yr adran, tydi pethau ddim yn edrych yn dda i Lanelli. Colli oedd hanes y cochion eto’r penwythnos diwethaf, o 3 gôl i 1 yn erbyn y Drenewydd.

Taith i Landudno sydd yn eu hwynebu nhw dydd Sadwrn, a tydi’r gogleddwyr heb daro deuddeg eto chwaith. Os gallen nhw ennill ym Mharc Maesdu, mi fydd hynny’n gwneud y trip adref yn fwy pleserus ac yn bwysicach na hynny, mi allai roi hwb anferth iddyn nhw am weddill y tymor.

Nos Wener: Caernarfon v Y Bala (7.45pm - yn fyw ar dudalen Facebook Live Sgorio)


Derwyddon Cefn v Aberystwyth (19.45)

Dydd Sadwrn: Caerfyrddin v Y Seintiau Newydd (2.30pm)
Llandudno v Llanelli (2.30pm)
Y Drenewydd v Y Barri (2.30pm)

Dydd Sul: Met Caerdydd v Cei Connah (2.30pm)

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