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Luke Williams Admits To Keeping Swansea City Players On Message For Cardiff Clash

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By David Williams

Luke Williams admits his wounded Swansea City squad are only too aware of the significance of Saturday’s derby clash with Cardiff City.

The Swans sit 15th in the Championship following a drab 1-0 defeat to Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Sunday – a result that leaves the Swans just five points above the relegation zone.

Having secured successive doubles over the Bluebirds under Russell Martin, the current side are now bidding to avoid becoming the first ever Swansea team to be on the wrong end of a double against Cardiff after Erol Bulut’s men won the reverse fixture 2-0 in September.

But head coach Williams – who was on Martin’s coaching staff when Swansea beat Cardiff 3-0 in October 2021 – says messages exchanged with captain Matt Grimes prove his squad know the true meaning of the fixture.

“The players know what it means,” said Williams

“I came here with Russell and I was pinching myself to be here, but that pales into insignificance compared with the win in the derby.
“It’s incredible to be involved in it, I am feeling the emotions already.

“I have been messaging the captain back and forth about it, we know we have not had the season the fans want, but they and everyone at the club are fully aware of what it means.”

Following a brutal run of fixtures which included matches against each of the league’s top four across a six-game span, Swansea collected seven points from nine before losing to Bristol City.

But their dreadful form under former boss Michael Duff in the opening half of the 2023-24 campaign combined with Williams’ difficult start means they remain in a fragile position.

And ex-Notts County boss Williams says his Swans players are bidding to overcome the frustrations of what has been a tough season to date.

When asked about attempting to re-implement the club’s famed ‘Swansea Way’ style of play, Williams responded: “The current group have shown recently that they have that inside them.

“But we have to strip away some of the anxiety and rebuild with passion. There are some wounded souls [in the team].”

Cardiff go into the contest having won four matches in a row.

Goals from Ollie Tanner and Aaron Ramsey earned the Bluebirds a 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture at Cardiff City Stadium.

Joe Allen will be playing in his latest Welsh derby, 15 years after his first way back in 2009.

That was when Allen – then 19 – marked the occasion with his first goal for the Swans in a 2-2 draw with the Bluebirds at Ninian Park.

“It was a special moment, it was my first Swansea goal,” said the former Wales midfielder.

“I hadn’t scored at that point, I’d been dreaming about that moment. Thankfully, I got the chance to come on and bar a shocking penalty decision to ruin things late on, it was a pretty good day.

“I’ll never let that one go. It’s one first things you learn here is just how important these games are, and what it means to all concerned,” he added.

“It’s been the same for the lads coming in, they get it, and they can’t wait.

“And speaking about them, they’ve had a really great impact with how quickly they’ve settled in.

“They have embraced everything about the club and it has been a pleasure to see.”

After an injury-hit spell, Allen has returned to form in recent weeks but says talk of a new contract – his current deal expires at the end of the season – has not yet begun.

“It’s one for the end of the season, we have got some football to play,” he said.

“I have played more recently and I am ambitious to stay in the team between now and the end of the season, then at that time point, it will be the right time to discuss anything.

“You try not to be too negative but coming back from an injury like I had, any recurrence would have left me in tricky situation, thankfully that has not been the case so I feel relief.”

“The fire is still there for me.

“When you are on the operating table you worry what will happen but chances have improved for me in recent weeks. I still have to do a lot more before there is any confirmation there will be something for me.

“I think as an older player it’s a standard mindset to have that you need to show you are worth another contract.”

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