Whichever way you try to dress it up, Swansea City’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of Huddersfield Town on Saturday was a real eyebrow-raiser.
The away side were off the pace from the start to finish, never caught up and were generally horrid. A very un-Swans-like display, especially by recent standards.
Head coach Steve Cooper hit the nail on the head in the post-match press conference and described the performance as “disappointing”.
“We’ve only got ourselves to blame. We lost the basics today, both with and without the ball and in the end if you don’t do that it can cost you. That’s what happened,” he said.
“The goals we conceded, although they’re good finishes from Huddersfield, the areas they got into was something we worked a lot on in trying to prevent, because we knew it was coming, so that’s disappointing as well.”
So, what happened? They were poor, simple as that. It happens. After the dour defeat to Derby in December, Swansea responded well. It shouldn’t, therefore, mean a rush to panic stations.
They have been scintillating at points this season, so impressive at the back and ruthless going forward that when performances like this occur, they jar that much more. We have simply come to expect Swansea to win.
With the benefit of hindsight you could say Swansea were due one of these, and to a certain extent that’s correct.
There were signs against Nottingham Forest in the midweek, a few fatigued players, leggy against a hardworking opponent. A brilliant cross and a brilliant header bailed them out.
It was perhaps a surprise, then, to see Cooper resist the temptation to make changes for the clash at The John Smith’s Stadium, sticking with the same XI that faced Forest at the Liberty.
Cooper, to his credit, knows what he likes and sticks to his convictions and with a record like Swansea’s this term, it is extremely difficult to question him.
Perhaps if he had his time again he would mix things up, but that’s by the by.
This game has gone, it was a bad day at the office and Swansea have had so few of those this season that it would be completely unfair – and unreasonable – to dwell on it.
But out of disappointment and defeat can come lessons.
The Terriers have now done the double over Swansea this season and have scored six of the 19 goals the away side have conceded in total. Remarkable really, but perhaps the wake-up call they need in a campaign that is set to have more twists and turns than a F1 track.
Dropping three points will hurt the players, manager and supporters but the horrible-looking injury to Jordan Morris is probably the most damaging thing to come from the trip to Yorkshire.
It is no secret that Cooper wanted another established striker in the transfer window just gone, and to lose Morris for a prolonged period will sting, especially with Swansea so well placed in the promotion hunt.
“It doesn’t look good,” said the head coach when asked about the injury suffered by the US international.
“I don’t know the extent of it. He’s in a lot of pain. We’ve all got our fingers crossed for him.
“He’ll travel back with us. He’s currently in a knee brace and on crutches. He’ll get the best attention as soon as possible.”
Ryan Bennett, Swansea’s defensive colossus, also left the field with an injury at half-time. When it rains, it pours.
Cooper will be hoping for the best on those two but no doubt preparing for the worst, as all good administrators do.
The injury blows aside, this should be no time to dash towards the panic button, as some on social media were doing at 4.30pm on Saturday.
Having a morose debrief is not always helpful (the irony of that statement is not lost on this author) but Swansea also can’t afford to let this result and performance slide without some sort of reflection.
Teams have off days all the time and losing matches is part and parcel of teams gunning for promotion.
Brentford having a mini-wobble will have eased the frustrations somewhat – and remember – Swansea are still right in the automatic promotion mix with games in hand over their opponents.
Swansea, on the law of averages, were due one; it’s out of the system, one would hope, and Coventry on Wednesday is a chance to banish the memory of The John Smith’s Stadium.
Straight talking helps.
“We were awful,” said skipper Matt Grimes after the game. “It’s one of those things that can happen.
“We weren’t at our best on Wednesday but still managed to get three points against Nottingham Forest, and we were as bad as we’ve been this season against Huddersfield. We thoroughly let ourselves down and deserved to lose the game.
“We pride ourselves on how well we’ve done defensively this season, so to concede four – with three in the manner we did in the second half – was very disappointing.”
There’s that word again, disappointing. It was, yes, but hardly a fatal blow to Swansea’s automatic promotion hopes.
It’s all to play for – and the ultimate prize is still very much in their grasp.