By Paul Jones
Russell Martin has declared he should take the rap for Swansea City’s shocking away form.
The Swans head coach has apologised to fans who made the long trip to Sheffield United to see their side lose 4-0 – their third straight away defeat.
Martin’s team were fortunate to only concede four times, but they have now let in nine goals in those three away games without scoring themselves.
It all points to serious weaknesses in their strategy on the road and although Martin is unlikely to abandon his principles of a possession-based, high pass count approach, he suggested there will have to be changes of some sort.
“The gap between us at home and away is far too big, and that’s my fault, so we need to have a look at that,” said Martin.
“A few details in the first 20 minutes in particular have totally cost us.
“The last 15 minutes of the first-half, the mentality was wrong, the body language, looking around at each other. We have to stick together much better than that.”
— Swansea City Chat (@TheJacksForum) February 20, 2022
Martin’s first season at the club was always likely to be difficult after such a turnaround in players, but only the points deductions suffered by both Derby County and Reading have prevented them being in a relegation dogfight.
They are now 17th in the table, 17 points clear of the drop zone, but if those punishments were taken out of the picture, the gap between Swansea and the bottom three would be just six points.
Martin added: “I feel sorry for the fans that have travelled up in difficult circumstances.
“They deserve better than what we’re giving them away from home at the moment.
“We have a lot of young men who are in the process of growing and learning but we aren’t learning quickly enough, away from home especially.
“We played against men with a lot of Premier League experience and physical presence. The gap between us at our best and our worst is far too big.
“We made the same mistakes again. We started so poorly and the game was over after 20 minutes.
One again a flaccid display from the Swans
For the love of God find a manager who knows what the game is about and can motivate players
This “manager” is out of his depth.
— Nigel Pierlejewski 🇬🇧 🇵🇱 (@NigelPiers1) February 20, 2022
“In that first 25 minutes the details were just not good enough, and that should not be the case because there is no ambiguity or grey area about what we are trying to do and what we want to do.
“There is no blame culture here, we have to improve as a collective and learn as a group and make sure we are better in our next game because it is tremendously hurtful to have days like this.
“We have to make sure the pain we feel on days like this is worth it in the long run.”
Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom said he was unsurprised how easily Swansea folded.
“I’m really pleased,” he said. “We played against a team that can be difficult to play against and we could and should have had more.
Russell Martin deserves the same patience at Swansea that Carlos Corberan has been given with Huddersfield. End of. Think you’ll find he’ll have similar league position fortunes as Huddersfield have now too.
— Liam Frank (@liamwardfrank) February 20, 2022
“I’m not going to pick any faults – we were really strong. It was a really good second goal. The pleasing thing, again, is that the players want to dominate the ball.
“We needed to probe in midweek whereas today we went about it differently. We won the ball high up and that’s how we created the majority of our chances.
“The wing-backs were involved on both sides. I’m not being disrespectful when I say that I’m not surprised how one-sided the game was.”
Former Swans loan player Morgan Gibbs-White scored twice as an impressive first-half performance which sent their play-off chasing Blades on their way,
George Baldock and Billy Sharp were also on target before the break while Swansea never threatened to make a game of it, rarely troubling Blades goalkeeper Wes Foderingham.
The win takes Sheffield United into the top six.