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OTJ column: A thinking man’s manager

OTJ made 56 appearances for the Swans during a four-year period during 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 Swans, Lions and The Den

The international break came at a good time for Swansea because it gave a few players time to overcome injuries, but the squad went in to it with a great feeling after winning at Millwall.

It can’t be underestimated just how big a win that was for Swansea because of the circumstances.

A red card after five minutes, losing your captain shortly after due to injury, going a goal down and then seeing your left-back hobble off – and all this at The Den!

To come back from all that and win the game tells me there is something special about this group, this manager and this set of fans.

The way the players reacted and didn’t allow the circumstances to affect their game in a negative way is a very encouraging sign.

Graham Potter is proving he’s a thinking man’s manager. He’s proactive, not reactive.

He made a number of formation changes in that game in order to stifle Millwall and give his team a chance of getting something from the game. He is an unbelievable student of the game.

Doncaster, 10 men and the Christmas Party

I know full well how the players would have felt at Millwall. Back in 2005 we lost 2-1 at Doncaster after big Kevin Austin was sent off after 11 minutes.

We were a goal down soon after, though Sam Ricketts popped up with one of his two league goals for Swansea to ensure we were level at the break.

The whole team put in an extra shift that day to make up for the numerical disadvantage, and although Doncaster scored late on, the manager couldn’t have asked for more in terms of effort.

It was our Christmas party the day after, and we were worried Kenny Jackett would cancel it.

As it was, he was happy we had dug deep and gave everything, so we all headed to Wind Street in Swansea the next day for my Christmas Party debut.

It was fancy dress and, as it was my first season at the club, I was a little unsure of how much thought everyone would put in to their costume.

I played it fairly safe and went as Mr Incredible. I remember a certain Garry Monk going in a jockey costume attached to an Emu – Monks was a joker, and he had everyone in stitches with that.

Young, Welsh and proud

I know from my time playing at Swansea just how much the fans love a local lad playing.

Even as a North Walian, I think the fact I came from a Welsh Premier League team for almost nothing meant I was given extra time by supporters to settle into a new environment of professional football.

But Connor Roberts and Joe Rodon have really added to the sense of pride for Swans fans.

And, more importantly, they deserve their places in the team.

Connor has had a whirlwind few seasons. He played 50-plus games at Yeovil and won a few awards there during a loan spell – it was the perfect place for him to start in the pro game.

Then spells at Bristol Rovers and Middlesbrough didn’t work out, but he’s back home and thriving wearing the badge.

I remember going up to Boro to watch training when Monks was there, and I was really impressed with Connor. His attitude was superb and he looked sharp.

But he’s been given a chance to impress with the Swans, which can bring its own pressure when you’re a local lad.

And his goal for Wales last week really topped off an impressive rise.

Joe, too, has adapted to life in the Championship really well.

I know Steve Morison well from my time playing with him at Norwich and Wales, and he would have gone into the Swansea game looking forward to playing against a rookie 20-year-old centre-back.

But Joe did well against him, and he won’t get many better experiences this season than facing up to that type of striker in the atmosphere created at The Den.

I must mention another Welsh youngster too. Daniel James has been given an opportunity to break into Potter’s team this season, and that’s great to see from a Welsh perspective.

Dan is an exciting prospect and it will be interesting to see how he develops.

Flourish against Forest

Nottingham Forest, for me, are now an unknown quantity.

I just don’t know what to expect from Forest these days – it’s completely different to going to Millwall or playing Leeds because you know what you’d get from that type of opposition.

But one thing is for certain, Swansea need to win these types of games at home to prove that they are genuine contenders for promotion.

The Liberty can be an incredibly difficult place for opposing teams to play, but the players need to set the tone early.

They were impressive against Preston, fantastic in the draw with Leeds but below par last time out when Bristol City were in SA1.

This is an opportunity to get their home performances and results back on track.

Raising a glass in Las Vegas

We all know what happened when the Swans last played Forest. What a night!

I was at Norwich then, and I’d played a grand total of 47 minutes in the league for them – in between loans for Yeovil and Brentford – but I was heading for the Premier League as we had pipped Swansea to second spot.

As part of Norwich’s celebrations, the squad were given a free trip to Las Vegas. It would be rude to turn that down – after all, I’d given my all in the two game I played!

So there I was, sat in a sports bar in Vegas watching my former team-mates who had been slogging it out all season battling for a shot at the big time.

I almost fell off my chair – not because of the booze – when my old chum Leon Britton scored a left-footed shot. I couldn’t believe he shot, let alone scored!

It was a great feeling seeing Darren Pratley tap the third one in from the halfway line because we knew we were there.

I mean we, because I was a Swansea fan when I left the club and I still am.

I got tickets for the final and, well, we know how that ended.

Treatment room buddies

Remarkably, I never actually played against Nottingham Forest during my career.

A few former team-mates of mine will probably snigger and tell me that’s not a surprise as I was always injured.

I do remember us beating Forest 2-1 at the City Ground in 2006.

Yes, I was injured, and funnily enough old Magic Daps Lee Trundle joined me in the physio room after coming off injured that day. So too did Steve Watt – he only last 18 minutes that day – the poor lad.

But Adrian Forbes had grabbed an equaliser and Trunds, of course, scored the winner.

It was nice having that extra company in the treatment room courtesy of Watty and Trunds – they certainly kept me entertained!

Welsh Premier League

The Welsh Premier League is showing signs that it will be like no other this season.

After the early rounds of fixtures, it’s quite tight in the table with a number of teams jostling for the top spots.

Aberystwyth versus Bala is the live game chosen by Sgorio this weekend, and it should be a really good contest.

Aber will look to find some consistency in their results, and a home game with Bala will provide them with a stiff test.

Bala beat Llanelli 3-1 last weekend, though, so they have their tails up.

The Reds, meanwhile, are finding it tough back in the top league. They’ve won just once in six games, and host The New Saints on Friday night.

Get a result against TNS and it could give them the belief to go on a run, but they will have their toughest test yet against the champions.

Friday

Connahs’s Quay Nomads v Newtown (7.45pm)

Llanelli AFC v The New Saints (7.45pm)

Saturday

Caernarfon Town v Barry Town (2.30pm)

Cefn Druids v Carmarthen Town (2.30pm)

Aberystwyth Town v Bala Town (7.30pm – Live on S4C)

Sunday

Cardiff Met v Llandudno (2.30pm)

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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Yr Elyrch, y Llew a’r Den

Daeth yr egwyl ryngwladol ar adeg gyfleus iawn i Abertawe, gan iddyn nhw allu rhoi cyfle i rai o’r chwaraewyr wella o’u hanafiadau. Ond fe aeth y tîm i mewn i’r egwyl ar gefn ganlyniad anhygoel yn Millwall.

Roedd hon yn fuddugoliaeth enfawr oherwydd yr amgylchiadau.

Cerdyn coch ar ôl pum munud, colli’r capten ychydig wedyn oherwydd anaf, mynd gôl i lawr ac yna’n gweld yr amddiffynnwr chwith yn hercian oddi ar y maes - a hynny oll yn y Den!

Mae dod yn ôl o hynny i gyd ac ennill y gêm yn adlewyrchiad arbennig ar y grŵp, yr hyfforddwr a’r cefnogwyr.

Roedd ymateb y chwaraewyr yn berffaith ac fe wnaethon nhw ddim gadael amgylchiadau’r gêm i effeithio’i meddylfryd, ac mae hynny’n arwydd galonogol dros ben.

Mae Graham Potter yn profi i fod yn hyfforddwr meddylgar, sy’n blaengynllunio, ac nid yn gorymateb i sefyllfa.

Fe wnaeth o sawl newid i siâp y tîm er mwyn rhwystro Millwall a rhoi cyfle i’w dîm i gael rhywbeth allan o’r gêm. Mae ganddo ddealltwriaeth wych o’r gamp.

Cymry campus

Dw i’n gwybod faint mae cefnogwyr y Swans yn gwerthfawrogi gweld hogyn lleol yn chwarae, ac mae gweld Connor Roberts a Joe Rodon yn chwarae wedi ychwanegu at falchder y cefnogwyr. Ac yn bwysicach na hynny, maen nhw’n llawn haeddu eu lle yn y tîm.

Mae’r tymhorau diwethaf wedi bod fel corwynt i Connor. Fe chwaraeodd dros 50 o gemau i Yeovil ac fe enillodd ychydig o wobrau yn ystod ei amser ar fenthyg yno. Dyna oedd y lle gorau iddo ddechrau yn y gêm broffesiynol.

Ar ôl cyfnodau aflwyddiannus ar fenthyg i Bristol Rovers a Middlesbrough, mae o’n ôl adref ac yn mwynhau ei hun. Mae bod yn hogyn lleol yn gallu rhoi mwy o bwysau arnat ti ond mae o wedi ffynnu dan yr amgylchiadau. Mae o’n datblygu’n sydyn ac fe wnaeth ei gôl wych dros Gymru ddangos pa mor bell mae o wedi dod.

Mae Joe hefyd wedi ymdopi â’r Bencampwriaeth yn dda iawn. Dw i’n nabod Steve Morison ar ôl chwarae gyda fo yn Norwich a Chymru, ac mi fyddai o wedi edrych ymlaen at herio amddiffynnwr 20 mlwydd oed. Ond fe wnaeth Joe yn wych yn ei erbyn, a chaiff o ddim gwell brofiad na chwarae yn erbyn y math yna o ymosodwr mewn awyrgylch fel y Den.

Mae’n rhaid sôn am un Cymro ifanc arall hefyd. Mae Daniel James wedi cael cyfle gan Graham Potter y tymor hwn ac mae hynny’n wych i weld o safbwynt pêl droed Cymru.

Mae Dan yn chwaraewr cyffrous ac mi fydd yn ddiddorol gweld sut mae o’n datblygu.

Rhaid gosod tempo uchel yn erbyn Forest

I fi, mae’n anodd gwybod sut dîm ydi Nottingham Forest. Ond mae un peth un sicr, mae Abertawe angen ennill y math yma o gêm os maen nhw eisiau bod ymysg y ceffylau blaen sy’n brwydro am ddyrchafiad.

Mae’r Liberty yn gallu bod yn lle anodd i dimoedd eraill ac mae'n rhaid i’r Swans osod eu tempo o’r cychwyn cyntaf.

Roedden nhw’n dda yn erbyn Preston, gwych yn y gêm gyfartal yn erbyn Leeds ond braidd yn siomedig yn erbyn Bristol y tro diwethaf yn SA1.

Mae hwn yn gyfle i ail-gydio yn eu perfformiadau gartref.

Codi gwydr yn Vegas

‘Da ni i gyd yn gwybod be’ ddigwyddodd y tro diwethaf i Abertawe chwarae yn erbyn Forest. Am noson!

Roeddwn i yn Norwich yr adeg honno ac wedi chwarae cyfanswm o 47 munud yn y gynghrair iddyn nhw’r tymor yna, rhwng cyfnodau ar fenthyg yn Yeovil a Brentford.

Ond wedi i’r tîm ennill dyrchafiad i’r Uwch Gynghrair, fe dalodd y clwb am drip i Las Vegas i’r garfan gyfan i ddathlu. Rhoddais i bopeth i mewn i’r ddwy gêm yna, felly mi fysa hi di bod yn ddigywilydd i wrthod y cynnig hael!

Felly dyna le oeddwn i, mewn sports bar yn Vegas yn gwylio fy hen dîm yn y gemau ail gyfle. Fe bron i mi ddisgyn oddi ar fy nghadair - dim oherwydd y ddiod - ond oherwydd bod fy hen ffrind Leon Britton wedi Sgorio efo’i droed chwith!

A phan ddaru Darren Pratley sgorio o’r hanner ffordd, ro’n i’n gwybod bod ni ‘di cyrraedd y ffeinal. Dw i’n dweud ni, oherwydd dw i ‘di bod yn gefnogwr Abertawe o’r diwrnod nes i adael, a dw i dal yn rŵan. Ges i docynnau i’r ffeinal wedyn – a ‘da ni i gyd yn gwybod sut wnaeth hynny droi allan!

Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD

Mae’r tymor Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD yn edrych yn addawol iawn y tymor yma. Ar ôl yr wythnosau cynnar, mae’n eithaf agos rhwng y timau ar y brig.

Aberystwyth yn erbyn y Bala yw’r gêm byw Sgorio'r penwythnos yma, ac mi ddylai fod yn gêm gystadleuol. Mae Aber angen canfod eu cysondeb, tra bod Y Bala yn hyderus ar ôl curo Llanelli 3-1 y penwythnos diwethaf.

Mae’r cochion yn ei chael hi’n anodd ar eu tymor cyntaf yn ôl i fyny, ac maen nhw’n croesawu’r Seintiau Newydd i Stebonheath nos Wener - felly tydi pethau ddim yn mynd yn haws iddyn nhw chwaith.

Gwener

Cei Connah v Y Drenewydd (7.45pm)

Llanelli v Y Seintiau Newydd (7.45pm)

Sadwrn

Caernarfon v Y Barri (2.30pm)

Derwyddon Cefn v Caerfyrddin (2.30pm)

Aberystwyth v Y Bala (2.30pm – Yn fyw ar S4C)

Sul

Met Caerdydd v Llandudno (2.30pm)

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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