The Monday Profile: Scott Sinclair
Swansea’s sterling 1-0 victory at Cardiff was, despite Robbie Savage’s best efforts in the commentary box, an engaging watch yesterday. Prior to the match, I had the game down as a bit of a turkey shoot for the Bluebirds, taking my eye off what happened the last time that centre-forward Jay Bothroyd wasn’t on the pitch for the home side, but the way that the Swans controlled and dictated the match was a joy to watch for this neutral.
There are some pretty amiable Cardiff fans out there, but the way the club has recently gone about its business continues to rankle. The commentary team were at pains to praise the job that Dave Jones has done in the Welsh Capital, speaking up the significant c. £15m net profit he’s made on transfer fees over the years. Overlooking the fact that he’s probably had that kind of figure to play about with in wages every season, and his crass exploitation of the loan system, it was heartening to see their arch rivals, who’ve made progress the right way, travel back to the Mumbles with the points yesterday.
There were a few doubters when Chairman Hugh Jenkins picked Brendan Rodgers to succeed Paolo Sousa in the summer, but it appears to have been a well-judged decision to date. Rodgers’s new side initially struggled on the road, but four wins from the last four away games along with an enviable defensive record have seen the Jacks establish themselves as play-off contenders for the second year in a row. As this previous post suggested, that managers who have been unimpressive elsewhere have thrived at the Liberty is telling, but that’s not to degrade Rodgers’s achievements thus far.
Although he’s continued with a tried and tested back four and hasn’t tampered too readily with a footballing philosophy that had already been established by Roberto Martinez and Sousa, Rodgers has managed to complement and improve upon what was in place upon his arrival. Nine of yesterday’s starting line-up may have already at the club last season, but two of the Swans’ better players were Rodgers signings. Marvin Emnes, perhaps an easy player to criticise after flopping at Middlesbrough, quietly impressed as a lone centre forward while Scott Sinclair, playing to Emnes’s left, really caught the eye.
Offering an alternative outlet to Nathan Dyer on the opposite flank, Sinclair might well prove to be the tonic to Swansea’s well-documented problems in front of goal. As capable of knocking over an unmissable cross as he is scoring himself, the player who was on loan at six different clubs before finally calling it a day at Chelsea looks to have found himself a mutually appropriate home in Swansea. Yesterday, he drifted in and out of the game, but while Craig Bellamy was, according to Savage, busy “not doing nothing”, the lithe left-footer contributed several very near misses for his side and toyed with his marker every time he received the ball.
We’re barely into November, so it’s still too early to make knee-jerk predictions, but this performance from the Jacks suggests that the race for automatic promotion could well be extended to a third horse at least. One shouldn’t forget that Cardiff were missing the focal point of their attack, but the extent to which they allowed themselves to be dominated by this, their closest of rivals indicates that this most competitive of leagues won’t be sewn up without a few slip-ups along the way at the very least.