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Swansea City And Then Erol Bulut Remind Michael Duff Of Rule No.1 . . . Derbies Always Matter


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By Paul Jones

Swansea City would like to issue a correction.

When their head coach, Michael Duff, said he would rather gain promotion than win their derbies against Cardiff City, he didn’t really mean it.

What he actually meant was, he would rather gain promotion AND win the derbies against Cardiff City.

All clear? Nothing to see here. Move along.

Except, of course, it was a foot-in-mouth moment that involved swallowing an entire Imelda Marcos-sized walk-in shoe wardrobe.

No wonder Duff had a severe case of indigestion and needed to back-track on the remark before this Saturday’s first derby of the season at the Cardiff City Stadium.

To be fair to Duff, if you took a Swans fan, strapped his or her wrists to a chair, shone a light in his or her eyes and offered him or her promotion to the Premier League at the cost of two defeats to the Bluebirds, they would probably take it.

But it’s one of those things you just don’t say in public – like admitting you enjoyed the Barbie movie.

That’s the thing about derbies; logic, honesty, common sense, it all goes out of the window.

“From my point of view, of course we want to win both games [against Cardiff] and get promoted,” said Duff by way of a crunching gear change.

“I think I was caught on the hop in terms of a really disappointing performance after the Bristol City game. So was I focusing on the game in two weeks? No.

“This is one of these games that everyone knows about. I’m an outsider coming in here, but you know there are games in the UK that everyone knows about. This is one of them.

“It’s a big game, when you’re in it it’s an even bigger game. If I wasn’t involved in this game I’d be watching it on Saturday night because it’s such a bitter rivalry.

“I’m really looking forward to being a part of it and hopefully we’ll see a reaction from the last game.”

Swansea are hoping to win this fixture for an amazing fifth win in a row, which may give a clue as to why the response of rival manager Erol Bulut has been different.

Like Duff, the Turkish coach is going into his first Welsh derby but he stressed: “I would like to get promoted and beat Swansea twice.

“I was always told to go for the maximum in my career and that’s what I’ve always done.”

With Cardiff currently in 19th and Swansea in the relegation zone in 22nd without a win to date this season, the game will be crucial for both teams and their managers. The pressure has been building and Bulut revealed he has already been told by fans they can’t wait.

“This week I went for dinner and coming out of the restaurant a big fan jumped out of his car and came up to me and said ‘we are ready for Saturday’. It’s great the fans are ready, but the important thing is that we are ready on the field for the game,” said Bulut.

“Our players will be ready for sure. We’ve had a lot of positive things happen this season, but we need a change in our luck.

“You can never say it is a sure win in a derby match because players prepare for them in a different way. We have to be clever and stay calm.

“When you sign at a club as a manager or player you don’t need anyone else to explain to you how important the derby matches are. I won’t need to tell my team how they need to take the field.”

Swansea skipper Matt Grimes will be captaining his team for the seventh time in what will be his ninth derby.

He has six wins and a draw to his name to date and was captain of the first team to complete the double in the fixture two seasons ago.

“It’s no secret we have not won yet this season in the league, but this fixture does not need more adding to it,” said Grimes.

“Whether you have won the opening five games, or lost the first five, this game stands alone. We all know the importance of it.

“It’s one for the fans and we are hopefully looking to get the first three points of the season. We want to put smiles on the faces off the fans.”

The managers are both ready. So, are the captains. Take your seat.

  • Cardiff have lost their last four league games against Swansea – the longest run of victories by either side in this South Wales derby.
  • Swansea have won their last three league visits to Cardiff, having only won five of their first 29 English Football League games at the Bluebirds between 1929 and 2020 (W5 D10 L14).
  • Cardiff are without a clean sheet in their last 16 Championship games, the longest current run of any Championship side. They last went longer without a shutout between August 2021 and January 2022 (25 games).
  • But Swansea have dropped the most points from winning positions in the Championship this season (6), losing their last two after going 1-0 ahead.
  • Cardiff, meanwhile, have failed to win either of their two games this season after going 2-0 ahead (drew 2-2 with Leeds, lost 3-2 to Ipswich).
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