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OTJ column: Quick out of the blocks

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.

A fine start to the New Year

Two wins from two in 2019 and it’s been important for the Swans to start the New Year after a Christmas period that had looked like an opportunity but ended up going the other way.

Results at Reading and Aston Villa mean everyone is in a better place, it keeps spirits high and everyone happy.

Personally, I still think a mid-table finish would be no bad thing for the development of the side moving forward, but it’s always difficult if you have a run where results don’t go your way, particularly when you consider what a strong position Swansea were in at Hull at the start of the Christmas period.

After the Wigan game I stayed in Swansea. Graham Potter’s men had been two goals down at the break but fought back to earn a point but a lot of supporters I could hear at my hotel were not all that positive.

So to pick up this pair of results just settles everyone down and calms any negativity.

Obviously it would be ideal if Swansea can build on the last two results but it is never that easy and anyone trying to predict what will happen in the Championship is playing a fool’s game.

If you were a betting man and you are betting on the Championship then you are a braver man than me because there aren’t any real upsets or surprises.

You can look at a game and think your team will win it and they end up losing. A week later they can play a game where you don’t expect anything and they win.

It’s never as easy as it sounds to say that a team can just reel off a run of results.

Cup run can be a benefit

But Swansea can certainly move forward with confidence and having a run in the FA Cup will do them no harm at all.

They’ll be pleased to have had a home draw and – given that Swansea are not currently locked in a promotion or relegation battle – in many ways they are well set to have a go at the cup because it can create a real buzz among the squad and supporters.

It really can be such a lift, and I can remember watching moments like Andy Robinson and Lee Trundle’s goals against Preston in that fourth-round game in 2004. There is such excitement around those occasions.

Fond Preston memories

Of course, it’s Preston for the Swans this weekend and I have fond memories of the win at Deepdale back in 2008, where I came on at half-time.

That game will always be remembered for Ferrie Bodde’s incredible goal from distance but, speaking to Ferrie over the years, he has always side his assist for Jordi Gomez gave him more satisfaction than the goal.

He was playing so brilliantly well at that time. There were a number of other players performing well for us at the time, but Ferrie was out of this world.

He was playing at a level I had not seen before and I look back at that period as one of the real good times in my career.

Welsh Premier League…and Britts is back!

Leon Britton was another key man in that side and it’s fantastic to see him join Llanelli Town’s efforts to avoid relegation from the Welsh Premier League.

He has already made an impact, playing a full 90 minutes in their win over Llandudno.

He is not the first high profile player to feature in the Welsh Premier League but I think what makes him different is the time in his life where he has made the switch.

In my opinion Leon could still be doing a job in the Championship for the Swans, he has only just retired and is still in good shape and touch.

I played against some big-name former pros in my own Welsh Premier League days, but they were often a few years out of playing and you would sometimes come off thinking that they had not been as good as you expected.

That’s not to say they had not been great players, but if you get to the stage where your legs go you cannot play at the level people know you can get to.

That will not be the case with Leon and it will be very interesting to see what influence he can have at the Reds.

But S4C’s attentions will be on the Bala v Caernarfon game as the top-flight enters its final weekend before the split.

Both teams are confirmed in the top six. Caernarfon are having an impressive season and Bala, even though they have more points perceived as having a slightly disappointing campaign.

Caernarfon will now be looking ahead and trying to catch the likes of Bala to give themselves a chance of home advantage in the end of season play-offs for European qualification, while Bala themselves will be looking for greater consistency.

Saturday – All games kick off at 7.30pm

Bala Town v Caernarfon Town (Live on Sgorio from 7.20pm)

Barry Town United v Aberystwyth Town

Carmarthen Town v Connahs Quay Nomads

Llandudno v Cardiff Met

Newtown v Cefn Druids

The New Saints v Llanelli Town

Back in a Wales shirt

I got my boots on myself over the weekend to feature for Wales at the Star Sixes competition in Glasgow, where England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and the Rest of the World fielded teams.

It was a fantastic event and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and even got on the scoresheet myself against Northern Ireland, which I was pleased with as I thought my chance had gone after David James and Vitor Baia had denied me earlier in the competition.

It was just an amazing experience to compete against some fantastic players like Robert Pires and you can see the competitive juices are still flowing with the dust-up between Jason McAteer and Michael Owen. It’s fun but you never quite let go of that will to win.

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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Y dechrau delfrydol i’r Flwyddyn Newydd

Mae’r Swans wedi ennill dwy allan o ddwy yn 2019 a hynny’n dilyn cyfnod y Nadolig lle aeth pethau ychydig yn chwith.

Mae canlyniadau gwych yn Reading ac Aston Villa wir wedi codi hwyliau pawb. Yn bersonol, mi fuaswn i yn ystyried gorffen yng nghanol y tabl ar ddiwedd y tymor yn ganlyniad positif o ran datblygiad y tîm.

Ar ddechrau’r Nadolig, oddi cartref yn erbyn Hull, mi oedd y Swans mewn safle cryf. Ac wedyn yn y gêm gartref yn erbyn Wigan, fe frwydrodd y Swans yn ôl i gipio pwynt ar ôl bod dwy gôl i lawr. Ond yn y gwesty lle’r oeddwn i’n aros yn Abertawe y noson honno, doedd cefnogwyr ddim yn bositif yn eu sylwadau.

Felly dw i’n credu bod y ddwy fuddugoliaeth yma yn amserol ac yn helpu lleddfu rywfaint o’r teimlad negatif.

Mi fyddai’n wych i weld y Swans yn adeiladu ar y ddau ganlyniad diwethaf, ond mae’r Bencampwriaeth yn gynghrair lle mae’n amhosib rhagweld beth fydd yn digwydd nesaf.

Os ydych chi’n betio ar y Bencampwriaeth, ‘da chi’n berson mwy dewr na finnau. Mae’n gynghrair lle mae rhediad cyson o ganlyniadau yn beth prin iawn.

Rhediad yn y Cwpan yn beth da i’r tîm

Fyddai rhediad yn y Cwpan FA ddim yn gwneud unrhyw ddrwg i Abertawe.

Fydden nhw’n falch o gael gêm gartref yn y rownd nesaf - a gan fod yr Elyrch ddim yn bygwth y safleoedd uchaf na chwaith dan fygythiad o ddisgyn, maen nhw mewn safle cryf i fynd amdani yn y Cwpan. Mi allai rhediad rhoi cymaint o hwb i’r clwb a’r cefnogwyr.

Atgofion melys yn erbyn Preston

Wrth gwrs, Preston sydd gan y Swans y penwythnos yma ac mae gen i atgofion melys o’r fuddugoliaeth wych yn Deepdale yn 2008, pan wnes i ddod ymlaen ar hanner amser.

Mi gaiff y gêm yna ei chofio am gôl anhygoel o bellter gan Ferrie Bodde, ond mae Ferrie yn mynnu mai ei bas ar gyfer gôl Jordi Gomez oedd ei uchafbwynt o o’r gêm honno.

Roedd yna gymaint o’r hogiau’n chwarae’n wych i ni yr adeg hynny, ond mi oedd Ferrie ar blaned hollol wahanol. Pan dw i’n edrych yn ôl dros fy ngyrfa, dw i’n ystyried y cyfnod hwnnw fel un o’r hapusaf ges i fel chwaraewr.

Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD...ac mae Britts yn ôl!

Roedd Leon Britton yn chwaraewr allweddol yn ystod y cyfnod yna ac mae’n wych gweld o’n hôl ar y cae i geisio helpu Llanelli dianc rhag y cwymp o Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD.

Fe gafodd o effaith yn syth, wrth iddo chwarae'r 90 munud cyfan yn eu buddugoliaeth dros Landudno. Nid Leon yw’r chwaraewr enwog cyntaf i chwarae yn y gynghrair, ond mae o’n ymuno ar gyfnod o’i yrfa lle mae ganddo dal gymaint i’w gynnig.

Yn fy marn i, fyddai Leon dal yn gallu chwarae dros y Swans yn y Bencampwriaeth. Newydd ymddeol mae o, ac mae o dal mewn siâp da.

Chwaraeais i yn erbyn ambell i gyn chwaraewr proffesiynol ers talwm yn Uwch Gynghrair Cymru, ond yn aml roedden nhw’n dychwelyd ar ôl ychydig o amser allan a ddim cystal ag yr oeddwn i wedi ei ddisgwyl.

Ond tydi hynny ddim yn wir am Leon ac mi fydd yn ddifyr iawn gweld faint o ddylanwad gaiff e ar y cochion.

Ond y gêm rhwng Y Bala a Chaernarfon fydd yn hawlio sylw Sgorio y penwythnos yma, wrth i’r clybiau chwarae’r gêm olaf cyn i’r gynghrair hollti’n ddau. Mae’r ddau dîm yn y chwe uchaf. Mae Caernarfon wedi cael tymor gwych hyd yma tra bod y Bala wedi bod braidd yn siomedig.

Bydd y Cofis yn obeithiol o allu dal y Bala a’r timoedd eraill o’u blaenau, er mwyn ceisio sicrhau gêm gartref yn y gemau ail-gyfle Ewrop ar ddiwedd y tymor. Cysondeb fydd y nod i’r Bala.

Nos Sadwrn – Cic gyntaf am 7.30pm ar gyfer pob gêm

Y Bala v Caernarfon (Yn Fyw ar Sgorio am 7.20pm)

Y Barri v Aberystwyth

Caerfyrddin v Cei Connah

Llandudno v Met Caerdydd

Y Drenewydd v Derwyddon Cefn

Y Seintiau Newydd v Llanelli

Yn ôl yn y crys coch

Nes i gael y boots nôl ‘mlaen dros y penwythnos i chwarae dros Gymru yn y gystadleuaeth Star Sixes yn Glasgow, lle’r oedden ni’n chwarae’n erbyn Lloegr, Yr Alban, Gweriniaeth Iwerddon, Gogledd Iwerddon a’r tîm Gweddill y Byd.

Roedd o’n ddigwyddiad gwych ac mi wnes i fwynhau yno. ‘Nes hi hyd yn oed sgorio yn erbyn Gogledd Iwerddon, i wneud i fyny am y siom o weld David James a Vitor Baia yn arbed rhai o’m hergydion yn gynharach yn y gystadleuaeth.

Roedd o’n brofiad anhygoel cael chwarae yn erbyn pobl fel Robert Pires, ac wrth weld Jason McAteer a Michael Owen yn mynd benben a’i gilydd, roedd o’n amlwg bod yr ysbryd cystadleuol yna o hyd i’r cyn-chwaraewyr.

Hwyl ydi’r holl beth wrth gwrs – ond dydi’r awch i ennill byth yn gadael.

Hefyd, cadwch lygad allan am bodlediad OTJ - The Longman's Football World Podcast – ar iTunes, PodBean a phob ap phodlediad dda.

Dilynwch OTJ ar Instagram a Twitter.

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