• Shelvey, Routledge impress in Swans’ best start since 1923-24
• West Brom signings struggling with fitness says Alan Irvine
They may keep a welcome in the hillsides, but Roy Hodgson would appear to be immune to it. At a time when England are rebuilding after a traumatic World Cup, the manager chooses to ignore the presence of three good, young English players at the heart of Swansea’s flying start to the season.
As a Welsh club, the Swans are not exactly falling over themselves to help the traditional enemy from across the Severn bridge, but they are bemused by Hodgson’s decision to overlook the compelling claims of Jonjo Shelvey, Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge when he chose his squad for the friendly international against Norway and the qualifier with Switzerland.
On form there is no better, more productive winger in the Premier League than Dyer, whose two goals against West Bromwich gave him three in as many games. Routledge, whose spectacular volley against Albion was probably the best goal anywhere on the day, is a complementary threat on the opposite flank and it is not just at the Liberty that they are convinced these two represent a more penetrative alternative to James Milner and Andros Townsend, who are preferred by England.
Similarly Shelvey’s commanding presence as Swansea’s midfield fulcrum suggests he is more deserving than Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph.
Albion’s defence was shredded by Dyer’s pace on the right, his second man-of-the-match performance in a week embellished by the Swans’ first goal, after 88 seconds, and the third. In between Routledge’s athletic adjustment of his body shape to score from the edge of the D was the technical highlight of a thoroughly impressive team performance.
The manager, Garry Monk, knows the acid test for Swansea’s best start to any season since 1923-24 comes straight after the international break, when they play at Chelsea. What had he made of what, in tabloid parlance, was an England snub? “We all talk about how we want England to play nice, expansive football, play a passing game,” he said.
“When we’re at our best, as we were this time, there’s not many better than us in terms of doing that. We’ve got English boys in the team who are doing it, which makes it all the more strange, but it’s out of our hands. All we can do is what we’re doing.”
Monk has not spoken to Hodgson since becoming Swansea’s manager and will not be inviting him to check out the club’s English contingent. “I don’t believe in doing that,” he said. “By performing, the players should always attract his attention. That, and you guys writing about it should be enough. We’re not the type of club to tout ourselves about.
“But this time there are players from unfashionable clubs who are in the squad, which makes the absence of our lads all the more surprising. Good luck to those guys, they definitely deserve it. But it does make us wonder: ‘Why not us?’”
While Swansea look good enough to improve on last season’s 12th position, Albion may again have to be content with avoiding relegation by one place. Their poverty was such that they could hardly have complained if the winning margin had been doubled. The new manager, Alan Irvine, has signed more players than anyone during the summer (11) but is still reliant on too many of those found wanting last time.
“We lost 13 players at the end of last season so we had to replace them but it has taken longer than I would have liked to get the ones we’ve been able to sign fit and ready. It’s been nobody’s fault, it’s just the way it is these days. We brought in a number of lads who were unattached and not training with any club so we’ve got to get them up to speed,” Irvine said. “They are definitely in need of a pre-season. In the meantime we’ve got to keep relying on the others who were here.”
Man of the match Nathan Dyer (Swansea City)