Swansea City manager Russell Martin has revealed he told his players to ‘fight’ and stick to what they have been doing at half-time after a stunning second-half comeback against Luton Town on Saturday afternoon, speaking in an interview with the club’s media team in his post-match press conference.
The Swans found themselves 3-0 down at Kenilworth Road within 23 minutes with Luke Berry opening the scoring in the seventh minute before Elijah Adebayo got in on the act and sealed a brace to place Martin’s side in deeper trouble.
Although they managed to keep the scoreline at three, which proved to be crucial in the end, they were unable to grab a consolation before the break and from there, many would have predicted it was going to be a damage limitation job after such a torrid first half in Bedfordshire.
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However, the Welsh side had other ideas. Jamie Paterson’s effort from outside the box pulled one back for the visitors before a late surge secured a point in stoppage time for the second-tier outfit, with Olivier Ntcham’s long-range strike reducing the deficit to one before Joel Piroe sent the away end into in the 92nd minute.
Although it would have been no surprise to hear manager Martin had given his players the ‘hairdryer’ treatment after seeing their response in the second 45, the 35-year-old has revealed he kept things simple in the dressing room during the interview.
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He said: “There was no blaming or shouting. It was about asking them how they want people to leave this game feeling about them – not as players, but people.
“We’ve all been in situations where we’ve been 3-0 down, whether you’re 15 or 33. The least people expect – those who have travelled – is a bit of fight. It would have been really easy to feel sorry for ourselves with how bad the first half was.
“I told them to fight, stick to what we’ve been doing, and trust in each other and our work.
“If we’d still shown that fight and not scored those goals, then I’d still have had hope.”
Despite Martin being in the job less than two months following Steve Cooper’s departure at the end of July, this team-talk and the Swans’ subsequent response just shows how well he knows his players already and it certainly bodes well for the future.
They may be in 21st as things stand, but this is a process at the Swansea.com Stadium and after seeing his second-half tactics pay off, it will hopefully take a little bit more pressure off the Swansea City boss from the fans to produce results.
The Swans do, however, need to analyse what went wrong in the opening 23 minutes. If they can do this and plug some of the gaping holes in their defence ahead of their upcoming ties against Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town, this could give them the platform to kick on and do well.
However, they are back at home for this weekend’s game against the Terriers, so they cannot afford to replicate their first-half showing at Kenilworth Road in South Wales with the added pressure of more Swans fans in the stadium.
This shouldn’t deter them from playing their own game though, because supporters will understand it will take a while for the new philosophy to bed in and may accept an underwhelming finish if they can see real flashes of quality and progress from Steve Cooper’s reign.