There is a word that I like that I think we should use more often, that we should try to implement more often in our lives. That word is ‘intent’. It’s a bit difficult to define but I know it when I see it. I also know when I hear it and this week I heard ‘intent’ loud and clear at the Liberty Stadium and it came with a Portuguese accent.
For the first half of the season watching the Swans the word ‘intent’ was a word that often came to my mind because I didn’t see any on the pitch. As results go against you and the rub of the green seems to favour the opposition it’s easy to understand why players that are obviously gifted and talented look pale imitations of themselves.
I would find myself bewildered when faced with open stretches of the Liberty Stadium at their mercy our fleet footed wingers would suddenly stop and turn around looking for the safe pass option. In midfield a sideways pass or a pass to a free centre back appeared to the first option rather than the last. What I wanted was for someone to ‘have a go’. I don’t mean mindlessly running into blind alleyways putting the team into danger, no, but what I did want was for the first motion to be primarily a forward motion that our play should be full of intent.
On Tuesday Swansea played Notts County in an FA Cup replay. We should have won the first time around having taken the lead and outplayed the team from the lower division in the first half but in the second half something went wrong and maybe we were lucky to walk away with a draw. We were always favourites to win the replay but what we all saw was a Swansea team that really wanted to win. Here and in most of the games I have seem since Carols Carvahal took over is a team filled with, well, intent.
By the second half the game to all ‘intents and purposes’ was over. But for the manager and therefore for the team that wasn’t the case. This wasn’t about punishing or embarrassing a lesser team, this was about setting out our stall for the rest of the season, instilling something into a team which is fast becoming unrecognisable from the team of ‘no hopers’ we saw last year.
Normally when the Liberty is full it’s hard to hear yourself think let alone talk. As it was a replay against Notts County on a cold day in February the stadium was only about a third full which meant you could hear the players and you could also hear the manager.
Pastéis de nata! 🇵🇹
Carlos brings a little bit of home to the press pack ahead of today’s press conference… 😁 pic.twitter.com/J0Yoth7JYH
— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) February 8, 2018
As we now know the manager has an interesting way with words from lobsters to sardines, from traffic jams and F1 motor cars. On Tuesday it was just one word that I heard time and time again that made all of the difference, that word was ‘GO!’.
At 4-1 up you could forgive the team and manger if they started to coast a little with thoughts about an important Premier League fixture against Burnley on everyone’s minds. Not on Tuesday. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a player run at the opposition. We have a number of players at the club who are fast and skilful but sadly too often we haven’t seen them in full flow.
With a quiet stadium it was impossible not to hear the manager scream at his players ‘Go, go, go, go, go,’. He wanted them to play with intent so instead of a match petering out in the last 20 minds those lucky enough to be at the Liberty of watching from the warmth of their living room sofa saw a team going at it until the end.
From what I have seen in recent weeks this must be something the new manager is encouraging all of the time. You only have to look at players like Jordan Ayew or Sam Clucas to see drive, hunger and forward motion and that has turned them into world beaters. I know its easy to play this way when you’re winning and the question will be can you keep on playing with intent when things go against you but it would appear that by playing with intent you seem to have more of a chance of winning anyway!
It’s much the same for all of us in our ordinary lives isn’t it? So often we seem to drift from day to day, we react to things life can throw at us. Sometimes its simply easier to take the obvious simple route, to play the ball back rather than take on the opposition.
So, how do we find our ‘intent’, and, how do we encourage people to move forward with intent. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone like Carlos on the touchline for us shouting ‘Go, go, go, go’ as you head into that meeting or as you look at the future with a lot of fear.
The thing about intent is its contagious. Again, looking at the Swans you could see people throwing off the shackles as they looked to go forward. Maybe we should try our best to encourage others whilst also being Carlos Carvahal to the people we meet shouting them on to have a real go at life.
You must also remember not everyone wants you to be this way so you have to be careful about who you listen to. Another team full of ‘intent’ was the Welsh team last Saturday or as my colleagues from Llanelli like to call them ‘Scarlets and Friends’. From the first moment it was like being transported back to the 1970’s. Here was a team that seemed to be having fun, who would pick up the ball and run through impossible gaps instead of looking to set up another ruck.
We weren’t the only ones watching players like Rhys Pratchell have the game of their lives. Eddie Jones, the Australian Manager of the England team must have been watching too and I bet we scared the pants off him. So, what did he try to do? He tried to use words to sow doubt into the minds of players and supporters alike. Apparently, Eddie Jones thinks Rhys Patchell is too inexperienced to be able to stand up to the mighty White army. He even suggested Patchell’s own team mates would have doubts about his ‘bottle’ in the cauldron that would be Twickenham. Its easy to say sticks and stones may break my bones and words won’t harm you but since I heard that I must admit I’ve been really angry, but I can’t forget them out of my head.
Even Alun Wyn Jones came in for the Aussies criticism for talking to the referee in the Scotland game. Maybe Rhys is a new boy but Alun has been around the block a few times. He is a man and I am sure he will be there protecting his younger team mates and shouting at the top of his voice as he tries his best to keep up with our flying backs ‘Go, go, go go!’.
So, this week who are you going to listen to? The sneering jibes of someone who wants you to fail or the enthusiasm of someone who believes in you shouts ‘Go’. No matter what anyone says, the choice of who to listen to is always yours.