Thursday 20 September 2018

Misery unites fans as Stoke make exit with limp victory

Swansea 1 Stoke City 2

Stoke's Jack Butland makes a save on the goal-line. Photo: Reuters
Stoke's Jack Butland makes a save on the goal-line. Photo: Reuters

Jonathan Liew

Ahead of yesterday's game at the Liberty Stadium, the Stoke fans had gathered outside the Harvester restaurant to drown their sorrows and sing away their last afternoon in the Premier League.

"You're going down with the City," they taunted their opponents. "How s*** must you be, you're coming with us."

Swansea have sacked Carlos Carvalhal. Photo: Reuters
Swansea have sacked Carlos Carvalhal. Photo: Reuters

Watching them from a safe distance was a kid aged no more than six, his white Swansea top emblazoned with the name and number of Renato Sanches. Football dishes out its life lessons heartbreakingly early.

Of course Sanches, the midfield prodigy on loan from Bayern Munich who ends his Swansea career with one emoji and no goals, was nowhere to be seen as Swansea ended a seven-year spell in the Premier League in poetically fitting style.

Twenty-four shots, the bulk of possession, and yet defeat to a Stoke side who hadn't scored twice since January.

"That's why you're going down," the Stoke fans trilled as yet another promising goalmouth opening went begging.

Stoke's Peter Crouch celebrates scoring his side's second goal. Photo: PA
Stoke's Peter Crouch celebrates scoring his side's second goal. Photo: PA

Conviction

There had, at kick-off, been the faintest of possibilities that Swansea might just stay up if results went their way. But there was never any real conviction that the great escape was on.

Within a minute, the first "We want (Huw) Jenkins out" chants had started, part of a long-running campaign of disenchantment with Swansea's chairman.

Within three minutes, the Stoke and Swansea fans had united in a chorus of "going down, going down, going down".

Stoke's Badou Ndiaye scores his side's first goal. Photo: PA
Stoke's Badou Ndiaye scores his side's first goal. Photo: PA

It was a poignant moment, perhaps for its tacit admission that deep down, perhaps these two sets of fans have more in common with each other than the suited zombies running their respective clubs.

"You greedy bastards, get out of our club," the Swansea fans sang, to a round of applause from their Stoke counterparts.

Relegated a week ago, Stoke know only too well the cycle of boom and bust, of mis-step and mismanagement, that brings a perfectly viable Premier League club to its knees.

At least Stoke had one last victory to toast, after Badou Ndiaye and Peter Crouch overturned the early lead given to Swansea by Andy King.

Swansea's Jordan Ayew keeps possession ahead of Stoke's Lasse Sorensen. Photo: Reuters
Swansea's Jordan Ayew keeps possession ahead of Stoke's Lasse Sorensen. Photo: Reuters

Afterwards, Carlos Carvalhal confirmed that Swansea's owners had asked him to stay on.

Carvalhal, who admitted he was "completely exhausted" after failing to secure survival, said he would take a few days to consider his future.

© Independent News Service

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport