By Will Rogers
Swansea City new boy Flynn Downes reckons the pass masters will soon be back and it will be torture for the opposition.
The club’s £1.5m signing from Ipswich believes new head coach Russell Martin can take the Swans back to the time when they used to kill teams through death by a thousand passes.
It was only 609 passes in the 0-0 draw against Sheffield United on Saturday but Downes played for the Tractor Boys against Martin’s MK Dons last season and said: “It was the worst.
“When we used to go to MK Dons, the boys used to say, ‘Oh no, we’ve got to go to the Camp Nou today! We’re playing Barcelona!
“That is literally the reputation the gaffer has got. It’s horrible to play against – just horrible. You literally can’t stop it. It’s crazy.
“We haven’t had a long time to do it, so the gaffer is still trying to get things across. We need to fully take it all in, but once we click, we’ll be flying and the goals will be flying in.”
“We are not just keeping the ball for the sake of it. We are keeping the ball to move the opponent.”
For all their 64 per cent dominance of possession, Martin’s men could only manage one shot on target and they have scored just once in their opening two games.
Sheffield United are still to find the net, but at least they managed to give their new boss, the beady-eyed Serb Slavisa Jokanovic his first point since the former Fulham boss took charge.
Downes believes both clubs will be fighting it out among the promotion contenders once they find their feet and added: “Basically, we were playing a Premier League team, who haven’t lost many players since last season.
“But I thought we dominated and had the better chances.”
Acquiring a head coach of Martin’s ilk highlights how the Swans want to approach their future as they look to go one better than their Championship play-off final defeat last season.
“Playing out there tonight was the most enjoyable game I’ve ever played in. So, I’m looking forward to being here,” said Downes after the draw with the Blades.
Downes made a statement of intent in front of the vociferous home support, emphasising his enjoyment in being in South Wales.
“It’s been quite hectic, but that’s football and when you’re called upon you’ve got to be ready. I didn’t feel 100 per cent tonight, but I’ll get there,” he said.
“At Ipswich sometimes we used to move the ball but it was so slow and so there was no purpose in it. We have got purpose at Swansea so I’m looking forward to being here.
Both sides seemed short of match fitness, especially in the final third, and Downes highlighted both his lack of a pre-season and the minimal time Swansea have had to work with Martin.
Downes’ career at Ipswich came to an acrimonious end after he was moved to the club’s Under-23 squad. “I literally found out a few days before I went back from Kieron Dyer who said I was going to be with the Under-23’s,” Downes said.
“I was like, ‘Oh, OK. That says a lot.’ I spoke to the gaffer at Ipswich last year and we came to an agreement that I wanted to leave. I think that had a part to play in it.”
Whilst Ipswich received a high fee for Downes, Swansea acquired a promising, young 22-year-old.
When discussing his partnership with Grimes, Downes said: “I can learn a lot from him and the way he plays. He keeps it simple.
“He’s a pleasure to play with and when you play with people like that, it makes the game so much easier.”
Jokanovic was grateful for the excellence of his goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, whose superb save to deny Jamal Lowe ensured it was not back-to-back defeats following relegation from the Premier League.
Ramsdale remains a £20m target for Arsenal and Blades defender Chris Basham admitted: “It’s great to still have him here at the club.
“It was nice to keep a clean sheet and not really feel threatened. Every time we got the ball and pushed forward we looked threatening ourselves.”
Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick had chances for the visitors and with former Swansea pair Oli McBurnie and Rhian Brewster still on board despite relegation, Basham insists United can quickly start scoring – starting at West Brom on Wednesday.
“We have great ammunition and hopefully one of them can step up and start scoring goals for us.”