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Swansea need manager and striker after goalless draw with West Ham
Stuart James at the Liberty Stadium
Date Published Sunday 20 December 2015 18.10 GMT
Goals are as hard to come by as managers in this part of south Wales at the moment. Still to appoint a replacement for Garry Monk and with only one win from their past 13 league matches, Swansea’s frustration continues on and off the pitch after a result that ensures they will spend Christmas Day in the relegation zone.
Huw Jenkins said on Friday that Swansea will not be rushed into any managerial decision, yet a glance at the league table should focus the chairman’s mind. Swansea are 18th, two points adrift of safety, and the vacancy in the dugout is starting to look like a job for a firefighter rather than a long-term project.
Swansea dominated, enjoying 73% possession against a severely depleted West Ham, yet the fact they registered only two shots on target tells its own story. Only Aston Villa and Stoke have scored fewer goals than Swansea this season, which suggests a proven striker as well as a new manager is required if they are to start climbing the table.
Adrían, the West Ham keeper, made fine saves to deny Ki Sung-yueng in the first half and Jack Cork after the interval, and Swansea also had strong appeals for a penalty turned down when Lee Mason, the referee, refused to point to the spot after the ball struck James Collins on the hand, yet the Premier League has no time for hard-luck stories.
As the days go by – it is now approaching a fortnight since Monk was sacked – the managerial search becomes more curious and it is hard to avoid the conclusion Swansea got rid of a manager without having a replacement lined up.
Jenkins held talks with Marcelo Bielsa but that trail has gone cold and there are reports the Argentinian is being lined up for the Chile job. José Morais, who was José Mourinho’s assistant at Chelsea, is the latest name to be linked with the Swansea role.
With no suggestion that an announcement is imminent, Alan Curtis, who was asked to take over in a caretaker capacity in the wake of Monk’s departure, said that he is working on the assumption he will be in charge for the Boxing Day home match against West Bromwich Albion as well as the trip to Crystal Palace two days later.
Viewed as a safe pair of hands by the board, as well as a man in tune with the club’s playing style, Curtis saw a few positives despite Swansea’s failure to score. “I thought in terms of possession we were excellent,” he said. “I think we looked like a Swansea City team again.
“Certainly we bossed the game in terms of territory but we probably just lack that killer edge up front, and that’s partly to do with the service that players get. I think sometimes we just need a stroke of luck, we could do with something like a deflection or, having looked at the monitor, a penalty decision go our way.”
Collins certainly handled Ki’s shot and the Swansea players were furious that Mason rejected their penalty claims. Two minutes before that Cheikhou Kouyaté could only half-clear Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick and Cork struck a superb 20-yard volley that was arrowing towards the top corner until Adrían intervened. Earlier in the game Ki was thwarted by Adrían, who stuck out a leg to repel the South Korean’s shot after some neat build-up play involving Neil Taylor and Bafétimbi Gomis.
As for West Ham, Slaven Bilic departed “happy with a point”. With Andy Carroll, Winston Reid, Victor Moses, Manuel Lanzini, Diafra Sakho and Dimitri Payet all injured, this is a very different West Ham side from the one who wreaked havoc away from home earlier in the season. Mauro Zárate had a couple of speculative shots in the first half and Enner Valencia, his replacement, forced Lukasz Fabianski into a fingertip save late on but West Ham offered only a sporadic threat.
“We were very resilient, very stubborn in a positive way, we defended really well and I think we deserved a point,” said Bilic, whose team have failed to win in seven games.
“It’s all about the squad but why I want to praise the team is that we didn’t sink. Four or five weeks ago when we were really hit with these injuries, I said the only way we are going compensate is with teamwork, and that’s exactly what we’ve done in the last three matches.
Man of the match Adrían (West Ham)
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Swansea (4-3-3): Fabianski 7; Rangel 6 (Naughton 69mins, 6), Fernandez 6, Williams 6.5, Taylor 6.5; Cork 7 (Shelvey 73, 6), Britton 7, Ki 7; Sigurdsson 6, Gomis 6.5, Ayew 6.5 (Barrow 82)
Subs not used: Amat, Emnes, Nordfeldt, Montero
West Ham (4-1-4-1): Adrian 8; Tomkins 6.5, Collins 7.5, Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 6; Song 6 (Obiang 72); Antonio 6 (Jenkinson 85), Noble 6.5, Kouyate 6, Zarate 6 (Valencia 60, 6); Jelavic 5
Subs not used: Randolph, Oxford, Cullen, Hendrie
Referee: Lee Mason 5