OTJ column: Swans show their bite

22nd March

In his 16th column of the season, former midfielder Owain Tudur Jones reflects on an FA Cup thriller against Manchester City and looks ahead of the start of Wales’ Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

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 underdogs show their teeth

Swansea were the underdogs against Manchester City but they didn’t half show some bite in what was a thrilling FA Cup clash.

It might not be of much comfort to Graham Potter and his players but their first-half performance was their best of the season - it simply has to be viewed that way.

Just look at the opposition, you cannot make light of a display against a strong Manchester City side. You saw their team before kick-off and you are thinking ‘Come on Pep, give us a break here!”

But he is not like that and he’s not having that way of doing things. They are in a crunch period and he is always going to put strong teams out. They have so much strength in depth, and Swansea performed against them.

Yet, it was not a huge surprise to me. If you have watched Swansea over the season – there have been ups and downs – what they are trying to do is pretty evident and it came together for 45 minutes against high-level opposition.

It provides so much hope for the future providing this group are kept together and a couple of additions are made. It’s an exciting group and an exciting future is what we are looking for.

It was a big compliment that Guardiola felt he needed Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling on from the bench, because it was a key spell.

At 2-0, you know the next goal is big. If you concede the next one, the tone of the occasion changes. The momentum switches and the pressure they put teams under is massive.

But I have no doubt Guardiola would have left the Liberty Stadium with a huge amount of respect and admiration for what Swansea are trying to do.

They won the game but, maybe, they shouldn’t have and it is tempting to wonder what might have happened with VAR.

I understand the reasoning behind it – and both clubs knew that was how it was before the game – but I think once you get to the last 16 and there are no replays, regardless of where the games are there, there should be VAR.

It should be there for all, not just for some and could it have ensured a famous, famous result had it been in use? Teams have had reunions for less than a result like that down the years.

Celina shows his character

Obviously you don’t want to single players out from what was an excellent team performance but that was some way for Bersant Celina to round off a difficult week.

After his penalty miss at West Brom, he looked to have a real point to prove and – anyone who dared to doubt him – quickly got ma reminder of the talent he possesses.

His finish for the second goal was so accomplished. He had the confidence to take it on first time when others might have wanted a touch. It was a magnificent team goal, but the finishing touch was exquisite.

Like so many of the Swansea squad he is still a young man, and I am sure the penalty miss at The Hawthorns hurt him. But those things will happen over a career.

It was pretty high profile and got a lot of attention, but all players make mistakes, miss sitters, have costly slips. It doesn’t mean you are not a talented player.

The thing for him and the Swans now is to finish the season strong and leave people wanting more.

The play-offs look a tough ask being realistic, but they have to build on that performance and find the consistency that can serve them well next season if they are going to challenge.

There is work to be done, but there is so much to build on if they can keep hold of people. There are changes taking place at the club, including the chairman but it can be an exciting time.

A fine time with Wales ‘C’

While all that has been going on I’ve had a great week with Wales ‘C’ preparing for and being part of their 2-2 draw against England in Salford.

It’s an experience I really enjoy and this was my second time being involved after the game last year, where we were unlucky to lose after a good fightback.

It’s nice to have that small taste and it would be nice to have a little bit more, although I don’t think full-time coaching is on my agenda in the near-future, but it’s good to be part of that sort of environment again with great staff and a good bunch of players.

There’s always a bit of rivalry around a Wales v England game from our perspective. It’s a very big game, and we like that tag of being underdogs and it was good to go one better this year.

The big kick-off for Wales

The senior Wales team are in action live on Sgorio on Sunday as they kick-off their Euro 2020 qualification campaign against Slovakia, with the Swans trio of Connor Roberts, Daniel James and Declan John all in the squad.

Wales fans will not need reminding of how well the last European campaign went and I am sure Ryan Giggs will want to follow the fast start especially when you look at the fixtures.

After Slovakia, the next two fixtures are an away double-header and we are not always great in that scenario.

So the start is huge, if you can somehow get around seven points from three games it gives you the opportunity to qualify.

Slovakia is an interesting one after the game at Euro 2016, they have an aging squad and their back four is close to being brand new.

I think Wales would rather it wasn’t a Sunday afternoon kick-off, and that it was under the lights where that atmosphere can be so special.

But the coaching staff and players have had a good year of preparation, it’s now about delivering and getting off to a good start because there is a bit of a sense of expectation.

The bottom line is, if you want to qualify you have to win games and do it early to build that confidence.

For a lot of the squad it’s their first campaign, their first involvement, and if they get up and running there’s no reason why they cannot achieve their goal of qualification.

JD Welsh Premier League

Friday: The New Saints v Bala Town (7.45pm)

Llandudno v Aberystwyth Town (7.45pm)

IRN BRU Cup final

Saturday: Connah’s Quay v Ross County (Live on S4C at 4pm)

JD Welsh Premier League

Barry Town United v Caernarfon Town (2.30pm)

Cardiff Met v Carmarthen Town (2.30pm)

Llanelli v Cefn Druids (2.30pm)

Listen to OTJ’s regular podcast - The Longman's Football World Podcast – on iTunes, PodBean and all good podcast apps.
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Yr elyrch yn rhoi braw i’r cewri

Abertawe oedd yr underdogs yn erbyn Manchester City ond doedden nhw sicr ddim yn ofn pencampwyr Lloegr mewn gêm Cwpan FA oedd yn llawn cyffro.

Fydd o ddim yn llawer o gysur i Graham Potter a’r chwaraewyr, ond eu perfformiad yn ystod yr hanner cyntaf oedd yr un gorau drwy’r tymor, heb os.

Cyn y gêm, wrth edrych ar dîm Man City, doedd Pep heb ddal yn ôl. Nid fel ‘na mae o’n gwneud pethau, maen nhw wastad yn dewis tîm cryf. Ond er y cryfder oedd ganddyn nhw, mi ddaru’r Swans roi her a hanner iddyn nhw.

Doedd o’n fawr o syndod i mi. Mae o wedi bod yn dymor anghyson i’r Swans, ond mae’r gallu ganddyn nhw i chwarae pêl-droed o safon uchel. A dyna’n union ddigwyddodd am 45 munud yn erbyn City.

Mae’n rhoi hwb ar gyfer gweddill y tymor, gan obeithio bydd Potter yn gallu cadw’r garfan yma gyda’i gilydd, ac yn gallu ychwanegu ambell wyneb newydd. Mae’r dyfodol yn un cyffrous.

Roedd hi’n dipyn o ganmoliaeth i’r Swans bod rhaid i Pep alw Sergio Aguero a Raheem Sterling oddi ar y fainc.

Gyda’r sgôr yn 2-0, roedd y gôl nesaf - a’r holl fomentwm sy’n dod gyda hynny - yn allweddol.

Does dim amheuaeth bod Guardiola wedi gadael y Liberty efo lot mawr o barch ac edmygedd tuag at yr Elyrch a beth maen nhw’n trio ei gyflawni. Fe enillon nhw’r gêm, ond efallai doedden nhw ddim yn haeddu ennill, gan ystyried y rôl fyddai VAR wedi gallu chwarae.

Dw i’n deall pam, ond dwi’n meddwl dylai bob gêm yn y rownd bod efo VAR, dim bwys ble maen nhw’n cael eu chwarae.

Mi ddylai’r dechnoleg fod yna i bawb, nid jest rhai yn unig. Mi fuasai Abertawe wedi gallu cael canlyniad nodedig iawn petai o yna.

Celina yn dangos ei gymeriad

Mae’n anodd dewis un chwaraewr ddaru sefyll allan ar ôl perfformiad gwych gan y tîm cyfan, ond mi oedd y gêm yn ffordd wych i Bersant Celina orffen wythnos anodd.

Ar ôl methu’r gic o’r smotyn yn West Brom, mi oedd o’n benderfynol o ddangos ei ddoniau, ac mi wnaeth o atgoffa pawb o’r ddawn sydd ganddo.

Roedd ei ergyd ar gyfer yr ail gôl yn un mor hyderus, ac ar ôl symudiad ardderchog gan y tîm, fe wnaeth hynny goroni’r cyfan yn berffaith.

Fe gafodd ei fethiant yn yr Hawthorns lot o sylw ar y cyfryngau cymdeithasol, ond mae'n rhaid cofio mai chwaraewr ifanc ydi o, a bod pawb yn gwneud camgymeriadau.

Y nod iddo fo ar i’r Swans nawr yw gorffen y tymor yn gryf. Mae’r gemau ail-gyfle yn edrych ychydig tu hwnt i’w cyrraedd erbyn rŵan, ond mae’n rhaid iddyn nhw gymryd ysbrydoliaeth o gemau fel hyn i adeiladu tuag at y tymor nesaf.

Mae ‘na lot o waith i’w wneud, ond mae’n gyfnod cyffrous i’r clwb.

Amser gwych efo Cymru ‘C’

Tra bod hynny i gyd yn mynd ymlaen, cefais i wythnos wych yn paratoi tîm Cymru ‘C’ ar gyfer eu gêm yn erbyn Lloegr yn Salford, gêm a orffennodd yn 2-2.

Dyma’r eildro i mi fod yn rhan o’r tîm hyfforddi ar ôl gêm y llynedd, lle’r oedd y tîm ân anlwcus i golli 3-2.

Mi fyddai’n dda cael fwy o gyfleoedd gyda’r tîm ‘C’, ac er nad yw hyfforddi llawn amser yn rhywbeth fydda i’n ei wneud yn y dyfodol agos, mae’n grêt cael bod yn rhan o’r tîm.

Mae ‘na elyniaeth fawr rhwng Cymru a Lloegr, ac er mai nhw yw’r tîm cryfaf ar bapur, mi oeddwn i’n falch iawn o’n chwaraewyr ni wrth iddyn nhw wella ar ganlyniad y llynedd.

Gêm fawr i Gymru

Mae tîm cyntaf Cymru yn dechrau eu hymgyrch i gyrraedd Euro 2020, gyda gêm gartref yn erbyn Slofacia. Fydd y gêm i’w gweld yn fyw ar Sgorio, ac mae triawd o’r Swans yn y garfan, Connor Roberts, Daniel James a Declan John.

Fydd ddim angen atgoffa cefnogwyr Cymru pa mor dda aeth yr ymgyrch ar gyfer yr Euros diwethaf, a dw i’n siŵr fydd Ryan Giggs yn anelu i gael dechreuad cryf i’r ymgyrch yma.

Ar ôl gêm Slofacia, mae gennym ni ddwy gêm oddi cartref mewn un penwythnos, a dydyn ni ddim wastad ar ein gorau yn y sefyllfa yna. Ond, mi fyddai cael saith pwynt o’r tair gêm gyntaf yn ddechreuad da, ac yn ein gosod ni yn agos at frig y grŵp yn gynnar.

Ar ôl y gêm yn Bordeaux yn Euro 2016, fydd y gêm yn erbyn Slofacia y tro hwn yn un ddifyr iawn. Does ganddyn nhw ddim y garfan ieuengaf, ond mae eu hamddiffynwyr yn hollol newydd o be dw i’n deall.

Dw i’n meddwl y byddai well gan Gymru chwarae gyda’r nos a dan y goleuadau, yn hytrach nag ar brynhawn dydd Sul. Ond mae’r chwaraewyr â’r tîm hyfforddi wedi cael blwyddyn dda i baratoi, a rŵan ydi’r amser i weithredu ar hynny. Mae’n bwysig i gael dechreuad da ac i adeiladu hyder yn y garfan.

Dyma fydd yr ymgyrch gyntaf i sawl aelod o’r garfan, ac os ydyn nhw’n gallu cael dechrau da, does dim rheswm pan na allan nhw gyrraedd y brif gystadleuaeth flwyddyn nesaf.

Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD

Nos Wener: Y Seintiau Newydd v Y Bala (7.45pm)

Llandudno v Aberystwyth (7.45pm)

Cwpan IRN BRU - Rownd Derfynol

Dydd Sadwrn: Cei Connah v Ross County (Yn fyw ar S4C am 4pm)

Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD

Y Barri v Caernarfon (2.30pm)

Met Caerdydd v Caerfyrddin (2.30pm)

Llanelli v Derwyddon Cefn (2.30pm)

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