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Sousa's Swans are flying

Swansea's players celebrate after taking the lead through Nathan Dyer
Swansea's players celebrate after taking the lead through Nathan Dyer

By David Dulin
BBC Sport at the Liberty Stadium

So there goes another south Wales derby - and it is Swansea who have the bragging rights following their thrilling 3-2 win at the Liberty Stadium.

Last season's league encounters were a great advert for Welsh football, but this topped them both and it was arguably the best derby for many, many years.

Admittedly, if you are a Cardiff fan, you may disagree, but when you look at the build-up to the game and the form of the two teams, it had all the ingredients that it was going to be a classic.

Swansea were unbeaten in nine - the best run in the Championship - and boasting the second best defence conceding just 10, while Cardiff were the division's top scorers with 31.

Jones bemoans sloppy defending

And on top of that, when a player makes comments about the opposition being weaker than the season before, there is always the danger it will come back to haunt him - which it did.

Depending on which way you look at it, the omens were not looking good for Cardiff even before a ball was kicked.

This was not just because of the loss of both top scorers Michael Chopra and Peter Whittingham, but manager Dave Jones was named manager of the month for October - ahead of Swans boss Paulo Sousa.

So often does a manager lose his next game after picking up the accolade.

Jones cannot have too many complaints about injuries and suspensions though as Swansea were already without star player Ferrie Bodde and lost captain Garry Monk in the warm-up.

Although that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as his replacement, Fede Bessone, supplied the crosses for two of the Swans goals.

Swansea deserved to win the game, they were the better team, passed the ball around better and seemed to have that extra bit of fight in them.

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While a number of players put in solid performances, it was the superb Darren Pratley who stood out, not only because he scored twice and set up the other goal, but because of his sheer hard work throughout.

And the former Fulham midfielder, who missed the start of the season with a shoulder injury and mumps, believes it is his manager - two times Champions League winner Sousa who has helped him in his development.

"The manager has instilled a winning mentality into us," said 24-year-old Pratley.

"Paulo was a great midfielder and in training he works with us midfielders and if we make mistakes he's there shouting in Portuguese. I don't know what he's saying but I'm sure it's not nice.

"He works with us personally and he's always talking to me, telling me where to be positionally, what he wants from me and when you've got a great midfielder like that as your manager it can only be good for me and the rest of the midfielders.

"He wants me to improve. I scored two goals but he's not going to get carried away and pat me on the back and say well done.

Nathan Dyer celebrates
Nathan Dyer celebrates his first goal since last season's Welsh derby

"He's going to me what I've done wrong and what I need to improve and that can be only better for me."

The win for Swansea also created a first for them in the league this season - the first time they've scored more than two goals in a game.

It also took them to sixth in the Championship - albeit for a short time - the highest position they reached last season.

The Swans did have their doubters early in the season as Sousa adjusted to life in the hot-seat vacated by Roberto Martinez.

But now people are starting to take notice and believe a promotion push is possible, even though Sousa insists his target remains top 10.

For Cardiff, they will still be up there or thereabouts and as Jones said: "We've got two weeks to lick our wounds and take the flak.

"We have to suffer, but we've got to bounce back."

Until next time…



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see also
Swansea prove 'promotion' class
07 Nov 09 |  Championship
Swansea 3-2 Cardiff
07 Nov 09 |  Championship


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