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Soccer Premier League

Swansea’s First Loss Is Really a Good Thing (Hear Me Out)

Detail of Swansea crest – Photo by Eric Imhof

“Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them”

So Shakespeare has Richard III introduce himself in the famous eponymous play. As deformed and unfinished as the portrayed character was described, so too is the ongoing debate over the history of the real king, which has just been thrust back into the forefront (in erudite medievalist circles) due to the possible discovery of Richard’s long-lost skeleton under a parking lot in Leicester last week. (The remains, too, were found deformed; the skeleton also showed severe scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.)

And on the subject of rescuing things from under the pavement (“sous les pavés la plage,” the French anarchist would say), Swansea boss Michael Laudrup now has the job of turning his side’s first defeat, at the hands of a team they should have easily dispatched, into something positive. “When things are going well you want the run to continue,” he said after the match. That statement seems sensible enough, but surely he knew that the first loss would come sooner or later, and that in this cut-throat league there’s no time for dwelling lugubriously on “bad days at the office.”

Swansea certainly had their chances against Aston Villa, and will feel disappointed not to come away with at least a point, even considering they were resigned to a reshuffled back line due to Neil Taylor‘s broken ankle and Chico Flores‘ suspension, both coming from the Sunderland match two weeks ago. Still, if one wants to safely stay up in the Prem, snatching low-hanging fruit is a necessity, and a point against a struggling Villa side away from Liberty could hardly hang any lower.

There is a fine line between optimism and delusion, a line which is often perforated. Yet one must not fall into fantastical thinking to argue that this loss is a good thing; since the first loss was bound to come, some pressure is taken off and the Swans can now look to their match with Everton with newly cut teeth. Some adjustments can be made, Flores will return to the lineup, and I should hope that Laudrup’s side will rebound with new vigor, inspired to right their wrongs and get back to their earlier form. The loss is also an away one, which allows Laudrup to still rally the troops with the call to defend one’s home. (Last year the Swans were 8-7-4 at Liberty.)

Without oversimplifying things too much, I think if Swansea can win at Liberty, they’ll stay up this year without a problem, and maybe even improve on their 11th-place finish of last year. If they can’t, it’ll be a battle to avoid second-season syndrome. Onward, then; the season is long and there’s no time to be weighed down by skeletons from the past.