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What You Need to Know About Swansea vs Reading: 2011 Championship Playoff Final

Photo by Martin Pettitt

Monday’s Championship Playoff Final between Swansea City and Reading (10am ET, live on Fox Soccer Channel) offers the winning club the most substantial prize in world soccer, approximately £90 million according to Deloitte, the accountancy group.

The £90 million is calculated based on more than £40 million in TV revenue, gate receipts and commercial income next season. Plus, the club would get payments of up to £48m if immediately relegated. Obviously the prize money is a gigantic number, but what do we need to know about Swansea and Reading going into this match?

Many of us will remember Reading’s impressive first year in the Premier League during the 2006-07 season. This was a club that won many hearts and minds in the United States with their attacking style of play and the way they played together as a team. Kevin Doyle, Leroy Lita, Shane Long, Stephen Hunt and Nicky Shorey were just a few of the players who stood at that season, while US goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was influential between the posts. The 07-08 season wasn’t as impressive for Reading as they suffered from a poor run of form during the second half of the season and were relegated as a result.

Since dropping out of the Premier League, they lost in the Championship Playoff semi-final in the 08-09 season. A few hours after the manager, manager Steve Coppell quit. His replacement was a man named Brendan Rogers (more about him later). However by December, Rogers was sacked and Reading went on to finish the 09-10 season in ninth position. This season, Reading have enjoyed a resurgence under new manager Brian McDermott especially in the latter half of the season where they rocketed up the league and finished in fifth position, and then beat Cardiff in the semi-final to make it to Wembley.

Swansea on the other hand have never played in the Premier League. If they win Monday, they’ll be the first Welsh club to play in the Premier League. The last time a Welsh club was in the top flight was 1983 when Swansea was managed by former Wales manager John Toshack. Since the highs of 1982 and 1983, Swansea plummeted down the leagues, were sold for £1 ten years ago and were one game away from being relegated to the Football Conference seven years ago but defeated Hull City on the final day of the season to stay up. Since then, Swansea have stabilized themselves, moved into a new stadium six years ago and even made a profit last season, a rare occurrence for any club near the top flight of British football.

On the pitch, Swansea are the Welsh version of Barcelona. They prefer the passing game interspersed with plenty of movement and speed. This comes from the influence of Liverpool legend Jan Molby who had Swansea beginning this style in 1996 followed through by successive managers including Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa and now Brendan Rogers (yes, the same man who was sacked by Reading over 12 months ago).

Rogers used to be a footballer at Reading before hanging up his boots to become a football manager. His resume is quite impressive. He was appointed as youth team manager at Chelsea by Jose Mourinho. Rogers succeeded there and was promoted to Chelsea reserve team manager in 2006. Rogers went on to manage Watford and Reading before being appointed by Swansea last summer. While Swansea last season narrowly missed out on qualifying for the playoffs under Sousa, Rogers was able to take that same team and make them into more of an attacking force.

That attacking prowess is one of the many reasons why Swansea have been a joy to watch this season. Their star player is Fabio Borini who joined Swansea from Chelsea on loan. The Italian striker has been a breath of fresh air up front for Swansea and his tally of six goals in nine appearances was enough to cement their place in the playoffs.

Other players to watch out for are Scott Sinclair on the left wing and Nathan Dyer on the right wing as well as striker Stephen Dobbie (the same man who helped Blackpool qualify for the Premier League). Swansea are backed up the experienced Dutch goalkeeper Dorus de Vries as well as a strong defense led by Ashley Williams (who plays for Wales) and a midfield comprising Leon Britton (formerly of West Ham United) and Welsh youngster Joe Allen.

While Swansea employ an attacking style of play and are a joy to watch, so too are Reading. Their key player is Shane Long, the Irish striker who was instrumental in defeating Cardiff City in the Championship semi-final. His two goals against Cardiff brought his season tally to 25. But one of their best players of the year has been Ian Harte, the veteran Irish left back who is best known for helping Leeds United reach the UEFA Champions League in 2001. Meanwhile, Reading are hoping winger Jimmy Kebe, who has missed their last six matches because of a thigh injury, can play a part at Wembley.

Manager Brian McDermott was Rogers’s chief scout when he was at Reading FC, so the two men know each other well. It’ll be an interesting test between these two managers who both have something to prove.

One of the other things that Reading and Swansea are renowned for are their passionate supporters. Both Swansea and Reading have sold out their allotment of 40,000 tickets each, so the stadium will be packed with more club supporters than what was at the UEFA Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United.

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  1. Tom

    August 8, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Frank May 29, 2011 at 10:33 pm
    Reading will win easily. They’ve been in the EPL before and will use that experience to unsettle an inexperienced Swansea side. They trounced Cardiff and will do the same to Swansea. Reading have been better in the playoffs and have been unbeatable since the start of the year. This one won’t be close.

    Wilson May 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm
    Don’t see how Swansea are going to beat Reading. Reading have been unbeatable since March and have carried that onto the playoffs were they have been dominant. Swansea have been very inconsistent all season long, great perfromances followed by poor ones, and have not been dominant in the playoffs. So on present form alone Reading should win.

    How could you both be so wrong 🙂

  2. Gavin

    May 30, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I’m really hoping its Reading… Not to sound racist… But how can a Welsh team play in the ENGLISH premier League. Surely we’d have to rename it? I’d certainly write a letter to the Trade descriptions!

  3. zach

    May 30, 2011 at 8:35 am

    The preacher that predicted the world was going to end a few weeks ago was wrong. It might end in a few hours when Swansea get promoted 🙂 .

    Readers of this site better get used to some Welsh humor.

    A group of English tourists climbing in Snowdonia came across a shepherd sitting at the top of the hill watching over his sheep.

    “I suppose you can see a great distance from here on a clear day,” said one of the tourists.

    “Yes, indeed,” said the shepherd seriously, “on a clear day you can see five television regions.

    “I suppose on a clear day now you could see as far as London from this great altitude,” said one of the climbers, nudging his companions.

    “Oh, you can see much farther than that,” said the shepherd.

    “Further than London?” gasped the tourists.

    “Oh, yes, further than America even.”

    “Further than America?” shouted the climbers, “that’s impossible.”

    “Well,” said the shepherd, “if you don’t believe me, just you sit down here for a couple of hours and if the clouds will clear you’ll see the moon.

  4. Alex

    May 30, 2011 at 8:20 am

    If Swansea wins how am I going to explain to my kids that the EPL no longer stands for the English Premier League but Everybody’s Premier League. Is nothing sacred anymore? 🙂 .

    Good luck to Swansea fans and I hope you make it. Just not sure if you have any idea how much abuse you’re going to get when you travel to places like Old Trafford or White Hart Lane.

    • The Gaffer

      May 30, 2011 at 8:57 am

      Alex, technically it’s the “Barclays Premier League,” but I know what you mean regarding some confusion there for younger readers 🙂

      We’re used to getting plenty of stick. If we do get promoted, remember we did pretty well the first two season we were in the top flight (1981-82 and 82-83). We played Man United four times (won once, tied once and lost twice) and Tottenham Hotspur (won twice, lost twice).

      The Gaffer

  5. Football Kit News

    May 30, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Swansea would be the ideal replacement for Blackpool in the Premier League.

    Nobody expected Blackpool to make it to the league last year and few would have expected Swansea to move up too, especially given where they were a decade or so ago.

  6. Dave (dlbags)

    May 30, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Reading had such a strong run to be where there are and unlike Cardiff and Swansea they maximized their results whereas Swansea and Cardiff were in commanding positions only to lose games they should have won etc to end up in playoff spots.

    That with Reading’s strong show in the FA Cup and their EPL experience, I think they will win this.

    But as far as Gaffer I hope his Swans make it up. I really do. Plus they have cool colors and kits. Black and White, right?

  7. Bruno

    May 30, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Not dominant? While they did not beat Forest the way Cardiff beat Reading, Swansea was down to 10 men for the entire game and dominated a large part of the match none the less, drawing away. In the home leg they controlled the match.

    • The Gaffer

      May 30, 2011 at 3:24 am

      I agree Bruno. I have a feeling the bloke never watched both of Swansea’s matches. Even when Swansea were down to ten men, they controlled a lot of the first leg against Forest.

      The Gaffer

  8. Wilson

    May 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Don’t see how Swansea are going to beat Reading. Reading have been unbeatable since March and have carried that onto the playoffs were they have been dominant. Swansea have been very inconsistent all season long, great perfromances followed by poor ones, and have not been dominant in the playoffs. So on present form alone Reading should win.

  9. Frank

    May 29, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Reading will win easily. They’ve been in the EPL before and will use that experience to unsettle an inexperienced Swansea side. They trounced Cardiff and will do the same to Swansea. Reading have been better in the playoffs and have been unbeatable since the start of the year. This one won’t be close.

  10. lordgunner

    May 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    why i want reading to win:away match is not far ,i live in reading for a year,i like the team
    why i want swansea to win….hrrr i never been to swansea 🙂

  11. Carolyn

    May 29, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    The wide pitch of Wembley should provide for a very open game with the wingers benefiting. This should favor Swansea’s Dyer and Sinclair. Reading have been absolutely terrific since Feb-March when they went from 15th to finishing 5th. They’ve been better than Swansea during this stretch. While Swansea won both games in the regular season, 1-0, Reading will still be confident as both those losses came before February.

    The key for me will be how well Monk and Williams deal with the experienced and in-form Shane Long at one end and whether the veteran Ian Harte can contain Dyer at the other.

    I’ll go with youth and predict a 3-2 win for Swansea.

    • The Gaffer

      May 29, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      Harte against Dyer will be a great matchup.

      The other thing about Wembley, as well as having a wide pitch, is the playing surface. If the condition is anything like Saturday, then Swansea will take advantage of the pristine pitch to pass the ball around with precision.

      The Gaffer

  12. Quincy

    May 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    For Swansea to win they have to start off well and use the pace of their wingers to good use. They have to continue this for the entire game. Sometimes they have a tendency to start well but fade away in the latter stages of the game. If they do that against an experienced team like Reading they could pay the price. Reading is the in-form team at the moment. This looks like it is going to be a very close game.

    • The Gaffer

      May 29, 2011 at 6:10 pm

      I agree. Swansea do fade, so I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. The key for me is to let them play their game where they create plenty of chances, and then hope a few balls go in the net.

      The Gaffer

  13. Larry

    May 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Most Liverpool fans want Swansea to win because of their style of play. Their attacking/pass’n’move football with pace to burn down the flanks! Sinclair and Dyer are great to watch down the flanks. Reading are also an attacking team but the youngsters of Swansea just pip it for me. I hope they are up for the occassion.

    Should be a cracker.

    • The Gaffer

      May 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      Jan Molby, the Liverpool legend, brought the passing game to Swansea when he became manager in 1996. Since then, we’ve been playing glorious football that Shankly and Paisley would have been proud of.

      The Gaffer

  14. JC

    May 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    How ’bout that, there’s a Championship Talk site?!?! I guess I should pay more attention to the blogroll. Very cool.

  15. Kristian Downer

    May 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Gaffer

    There are now profiles of both clubs on ChampionshipTalk this is the most important match of the week for us 🙂



    • The Gaffer

      May 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      Thanks Kristian. I’ve tweeted both the Reading and Swansea ones to the readers of EPL Talk, so hopefully they’ll check it out on our sister site Championship Talk. Thanks for all your hard work Kristian!

      The Gaffer

  16. david

    May 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    OK, let me get this right. Imogen Thomas is a Swansea fan? Now that’s reason itself to want Swansea promoted. I wouldn’t mind seeing her face on TV at the stadium during Swansea games.

    Go Swansea go!

    Can you better that Reading?

  17. Garywong

    May 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Another reason to root for Reading if you’re a Manchester United supporter. Imogen Thomas is from Swansea while Ryan Giggs is from Cardiff. Swansea will bring nothing but trouble to the EPL 🙂 .

    • davidrodway

      May 30, 2011 at 7:43 am

      Wrong. Imogen Thomas is from Llanelli

      • The Gaffer

        May 30, 2011 at 8:48 am

        Thanks David. I didn’t know that. I went to school in Llanelli. For those readers who don’t know, it’s about 12 miles from Llanelli to Swansea.

        The Gaffer

  18. forweg

    May 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    The parachute payments last four years now, 12 million pounds each season.

    It’s basically a transparent ploy (devised by the Premier League, of course) to benefit the “big” clubs recently relegated. It’s designed so that smaller clubs like Doncaster, Millwall, Peterborough, and Blackpool (gasp!) face an even bigger disadvantage. Basically, West Ham’s parachute payment next season will likely be bigger than Doncaster’s entire budget.

    Of course, the Premier League’s plan already failed last year with Blackpool going up.

  19. forweg

    May 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    “One of the other things that Reading and Swansea are renowned for are their passionate supporters.”


    I’m a Reading fan, and I have to say that Reading have some of the worst support in the entire football league. They couldn’t even sell-out the playoff game against Cardiff, and the Madjeski is renowned for its flat atmosphere. Great to hear over 40,000 supporters from each club will be at Wembley, though.

    • The Gaffer

      May 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      Forweg, I’m basing Reading’s excellent support on three things: (1) they sold out their ticket allotment for Wembley [more than 40,000] seats in a really short amount of time, (2) I have fond memories of their time in the Premier League and how loud and passionate the support was at that time, and (3) I went to a Reading away game at Fulham about five years ago and was very impressed with how loud the Reading away supporters were.

      Swansea supporters are more passionate, I would say. But I’m a bit biased being a Swans fan.

      The Gaffer

  20. Gary

    May 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Nice one there trickybrkn.

    Reading will win because they have a more veteran team. Many of their players have played in the EPL before and Harte has played in La Liga as well, I think. Anyway, in an elimination game they know how to play it. That’s why I think they will get the better of a young Swansea team. The experience of Reading will show over the 90 minutes.

  21. Cricketlover

    May 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    AP, I think what it means is that even if a club newly promoted to the EPL but relegated after only one year would still get money from the TV rights, for example, for the year they were in the EPL. I believe clubs get the money in installments over two years ( that’s what it used to be but not sure if it’s still true). When you get promoted you don’t get the TV money right away.

    West Ham, Birmingham and Blackpool will get their share of the EPL TV money for the 2010-2011 season while playing in the Championship. You don’t forfeit the money if you’re relegated.

  22. AP

    May 29, 2011 at 11:18 am

    “Plus, the club would get payments of up to £48m if immediately relegated.”
    What does it exactly mean? Can someone explain more?

    • The Gaffer

      May 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      It’s a parachute payment.

      The Gaffer

      • Mekias

        May 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm

        I believe right now the parachute payments are:

        1st year relegated) £16 million
        2nd year) £16 million
        3rd year) £8 million
        4th year) £8 million

        For a grand total of £48 million. These payments are made to ease the transition from the Premier League. If these didn’t exist, the relegated teams would have to sell off all of their top players just to avoid a massive financial loss. Parachute payments allow a team a few years to adjust their finances to the lower league.

  23. Cricketlover

    May 29, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Thanks for the post, gaffer. I am looking forward to this match as I’ve seen quite a few Championship matches this season on and both Swansea and Reading are capable of entertaining football. If both teams play like it was a regular season match we would be guaranteed a terrific match. That this is a playoff match might just change the thinking of the managers who might be more cautious in their approach. That is my main concern. People watching these teams for the first time might not see the real Swansea or Reading if the managers are cautious. Let’s hope the youngsters just go out and play the way they have all season long.

    I’m not a Swansea supporter but because it would be good to have a Welsh club in the EPL for the first time I’m going to be cheering for Swansea. Here’s hoping for an entertaining match tomorrow. And good luck to both sets of supporters!

    • The Gaffer

      May 29, 2011 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks for the support CricketLover! I agree that both teams may play cautiously, but Swansea will start the match with a bang. I have a feeling we’ll see lots of goals in this one!

      The Gaffer

  24. trickybrkn

    May 29, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Reasons to support Reading…

    1. They have a great musical festival, just check out this line up

    2. They are English, do we really want a WELSH team in the ENGLISH Premier League? What’s next Scottish teams? the Irish…. Polish? and besides, it was bad enough when Derby where up, and the chants of Sheep shaggers rang out, just imagine the over use of the chant if a Welsh team get up. could just be too much.

    3. You Lied, there is a Swansea.

    4. Many Northerners who support PL teams will be overly concerned that they don’t have passports, and may suffer from a let down when they learn they are not playing European football. Reading is in England and will keep the blood pressure down for these Northerners.

    5. Reading is near London, and within the 20 mile radius of understandable English. Yes there is a rule of fact that within the 20 mile ring of greater London, the average English speaker will understand the dialect spoken. Swansea is in Wales. and they are worse then the Scousers and Magpies…

    6. Shane Long. The man has scored 25 times this season… He’ll be bigger then Tevez and Rooney. A legend in the making.

    7.Brian McDermott . The man was born in Slough. Yes that Slough from the English version of the Office. He in fact managed Slough’s football club. I imagine once he gets Reading up, his legend will grow, and within years we will speak of him in the same breath as Sir Alex and Bob Paisley.


    • Trickybrkn

      May 29, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      Ps I actually want Swansea up.

    • oliver

      May 30, 2011 at 8:33 am

      RE: Point 3

      New Road? Bad!

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