Next season's kits were always going to be a bit special as the 2012-13 season is the Swans hundredth. The team have already rolled out a tasty new centenary logo, and are taking pre-orders on the new away kit. Which looks like this :
Look at all that Wales. Four Welsh internationals, wearing the colours of the Welsh flag, with dragons fire in the background. Rousing rendition of Hymns and Arias not pictured.
Yes, it's the Welsh flag colours, in a football kit. It's reminiscent of the Wales national rugby side of a few years ago, and it's a sure fire hit because it honours the classic three-band / three-colour approach, which always works.
Also of note, the fussy touches which marred this years home and away kits are gone. Swansea' new away shirts look to have more in common with the cleaner Adidas kits of bigger teams, such as Liverpool and Milan. The simple three stripes down the arms, minimal trim, solid colour body and matched single-colour logos provide a clean look.
Admittedly, the look could have been cleaner again if the green trim of the jersey was white, but that would diminish the Welsh theme. It's interesting that the Swans chose to not only embrace their own centenary but also their nationality with this kit. With Cardiff knocking on the door of the Premier League, perhaps the Swans wanted to stake their claim as Wales' primary team in advance of a possible bluebird playoff triumph?
You can pre-order the kit now. Shirts are a fiver more than last year, whilst the entire kit will set you back £71 (see, this is partly why I love the Swans. If they were a little more cynical, they could have made the price work out at a round £100 and tied that in with the centenary, too).
WOLVES AND UNITED
That's one half of the Swans' sartorial shopping sorted for next season, but in the meantime this season is still going on. Swansea's home fixture against Wolves ended in a similar fashion to the away fixture; a comfortable win sabotaged by an unlikely comeback. Brendan Rodgers wisely used the game to experiment with a new formation - part of his stated intention to develop a plan B for next season since everyone now knows about plan A - opting to go with a Wigan-esque 3-4-3.
The idea was sound, at least for 30 mins or so, even if the execution wasn't perfect, which it won't be until the team have had time to work on it properly. The positives included an outstanding performance from Andrea Orlandi, playing on the left side of the midfield four, and the fact Rodgers idea of a 'plan B' is evidentially more imaginative than drilling a defensive 4-4-2, which would be the obvious (i.e. lazy) choice.
Ironically, the trouble didn't start til the Swans shifted back to their usual 4-2-3-1 in the second half following Orlandi's withdrawal due to injury. Without a dedicated right back (Rangel picked up an injury before the game by falling down some steps outside his house), Matt Jarvis enjoyed far too much free reign and ended the game with two goals to his name. The Swans defending was ugly at best, embodied in Ash Williams tragically botched attempt at a goal-line clearance.
That Rodgers didn't choose to start highly rated defensive prospect Darnel Situ was disappointing, but there's time yet for Situ. Maybe next season. It looked like Rodgers was simply testing the viability of a new shape at this stage, without focussing on the individuals within that system; that comes later, if he decides the system is worth pursuing, which seems to be the case.
Elsewhere, Danny G netted for the first time in eleven games, though his contribution should never be measured solely in goals, since his work rate and high pressing is so valuable. Also, Nathan Dyer scored a header, which is almost always newsworthy.
On top of everything else Sir Alex Ferguson was spotted in the stands, taking notes for the Swans fixture at Old Trafford this coming Sunday. I would almost like to think Brendan's tactical tinkering and the Swans collectively disappointing defensive effort were deliberate strategies to confound Ferguson and give him nothing useful to work from in preparation. It might not have been deliberate, but the same result might yet have been achieved...
And so on to United. Roberto Mancini made some comments about the game which seemed to offend a lot of Swans fans, although I would argue his comments were actually complimentary. Implying that United ought to be able to put five goals past the Swans is to throw down a verbal gauntlet, challenging his title rivals to do just that, insinuating that anything short would be a sign of weakness. And if United do try, Mancini knows well enough the Swans are a good enough side to exploit any over confidence and pull off an upset, and it's not many sides you could say that about. Hence, what looked like trash talk was actually highly complimentary, from a certain point of view.
Remembering the Swans close one nil defeat to United at the Liberty might suggest the game could be a tight affair. However, if the awe of Old Trafford unsettles the players the way Stamford Bridge seemed to earlier in the season, Mancini might be disappointed. I would hope by now the Swans players realise they've got what it takes to hang with the big boys, last weeks point securing safety and the legitimacy that implies, which might be enough of a relief and a confidence boost for the Swans to turn in a strong performance in Manchester. The visit might also give Brendan time to line up a few loan signings for next season...