Steve Cooper has admitted Swansea City need to recapture the swagger and bravery that held them at the top of the Championship for the opening weeks of the season.
The Swans manager confessed that his team have lost the courage of their convictions following their 2-1 home defeat to Stoke City on Saturday.
The loss dropped Cooper’s side from top to fourth in the Championship table, but more concerning for the man at the helm was the style of football that has now brought just one point from their last three home games.
“We did not play to our identity,” said Cooper after Andre Ayew’s opening goal was cancelled out by former Swan Sam Clucas, before Scott Hogan’s 90th minute winner.
“The reason we play a certain way is because we think it will win games.
“We did not do that today and we got the result we deserved. We did not want to be brave enough in areas of the pitch to make a difference.
“We had a perfect start – you go a goal up and you should build on that. We created other chances where we were good going forward, but for some reason we did not want to play forward, we did not want to break lines.”
That lack of courage on the ball, the bravery to pass their way through teams, has been evident in recent home games that have allowed Nottingham Forest, Reading and now Stoke to go away from the Liberty Stadium with points.
For most of the game, striker Borja Baston was an isolated figure, the use of Bersant Celina as a left winger looks misplaced and a waste of his creative abilities, whilst the entire midfield struggled to gain any fluency.
Then, just as happened against both Forest and Reading, the Swans threw away points by conceding a late goal.
The Swans now have a two-week break until their next fixture – away to Barnsley – before their next back-to-back home games against Brentford and Cardiff City.
Cooper added: “We’ve had some great results this season so far. Off the back of the one on Wednesday, we didn’t get too high and although we’re disappointed by this we’re not going to get too low, either.
“We’ll learn from it and we’ll step forward and deal with the international break exactly as we planned to – and get ready for Barnsley.”
There was one Welsh manager, however, for whom Saturday represented a hugely significant milestone as Stoke boss Nathan Jones enjoyed his first victory since April 6.
Jones looked to be heading for the sack – and might still lose his job if the club’s billionaire betting moguls decide the odds don’t stack up – but a first win of the season at least gives him a fighting chance of defying predictions.
“It feels good – it’s a good win and a big performance when we needed it,” said Jones who unloaded in typically emotional fashion.
“I’ve done a lot of thinking and soul searching over the last week. I’m a passionate guy and that’s got me the career I’ve had.
“I’ve been 30 years in the game, with little ability. I come from a mining community in Wales and I’ve had to work my socks off to get where I am because i was never blessed with any ability.
“I never had four year contracts where I could chill and get a cigar out. I had to fight for every part of my career and as a coach I’ve had to do the same.
“I know I can turn this job around. That’s never been the thing. But it’s tough sometimes. I’m a proud man and a proud leader. I don’t point fingers, I take it all on me.
“Yes, I was despondent after the other night. But I wasn’t tortured, just despondent.
“Things were happening that shouldn’t be happening. But hopefully, things can now change.”