Michel Vorm: Swansea City must respond to 'elbows and kicks'
MICHEL Vorm reckons Swansea City must get physical if they are to take the next step in the Premier League, claiming: "It's always us on the receiving end of elbows and kicks."
Swansea have earned a glowing reputation as one of the best footballing sides in the Premier League over the last couple of seasons.
Their eye-catching, progressive approach has brought Swansea admirers and success in equal measure since they climbed out of the Championship.
But Vorm reckons there is a need for Michael Laudrup's men to add steel to their style if they are to continue their remarkable progress in the top flight.
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Swansea outplayed West Bromwich Albion in the first half at the Hawthorns last weekend but ended up losing the game — albeit after a shocking refereeing decision — as the Baggies turned the tide of the contest in the second period. And while there was no suggestion that Steve Clarke's team had kicked Swansea out of their stride, Vorm is convinced Laudrup's players need to toughen up their act.
"It's about attitude and mentality," reckons the Dutch international goalkeeper.
"You have to not be afraid to put your foot down because the opposition do that.
"It's always us who are on the receiving end of elbows and kicks. We can also do it.
"It's part of us maturing our game, because teams can't stop us football-wise when we play so well even on a bad pitch.
"The chances we created (at West Brom) were a joy to watch. We didn't have to lose the game and that annoys me a bit.
"Most of the other teams are physically stronger than us, but sometimes we have to show that we are not only a team who plays good football.
"We also have to show the strength and power you need.
"The back four is not a problem, but the whole team need to do it."
Unless their recruitment policy in the transfer market changes dramatically, Swansea are going to be inferior to the majority of their Premier League opponents for the foreseeable future when it comes to stature.
The Liberty club's scouts are sent out to find potential signings with technical quality, players who will slot in comfortably to the possession game which has been Swansea's trademark since Roberto Martinez took the manager's job six years ago.
If those players also have some physical presence — like Michu, for instance — then all the better, but there is a problem here.
Footballers who are powerfully built and have quality on the ball tend to cost a fortune and, while Swansea's spending power is increasing all the time, they simply cannot compete at the top end of the market.
Yet Vorm insists Swansea can increase their competitive edge without bringing in fresh faces.
"West Brom tried to stop us, but we have to do more as a team — not only the back four — to fight for the ball," he adds.
"We had to be more solid and compact. They didn't really have big chances, but they won a lot of the balls.
"They played a more physical game to try to stop us.
"We have to add a physical element. You could see that we were better than the opposition football-wise (at West Brom).
"But they worked hard and we have to make sure we put our foot down and especially win the 50-50 balls.
"We were sloppy a few times in the second half and that kept them alive."
Despite Swansea's struggles after the break last weekend, the consensus among the travelling contingent was that they deserved a draw rather than a third defeat in five Premier League games.
Albion, predictably, felt otherwise, though there was no debate over whether or not what would have been a late Roland Lamah equaliser should have stood.
Between them, referee Lee Mason and assistant Lee Betts somehow managed to miss the fact that Lamah was teed up to score by Gareth McAuley and Ben Foster — two opposition players.
To rule the goal out for offside, therefore, was nonsense.
Even so there was a feeling among Swansea's players that their performance was as much to blame as the blundering officials for their weekend setback.
"The goal would have made a difference — we deserved a point and if the goal had been allowed, we would have got one," Vorm says.
"But referees are only human and they make mistakes.
"This time it wasn't good for us, it's bad luck, but those things happen a couple of times over the season.
"I don't think we lost the game because of the referee. When we play well, like we did in the first half, we have to score the goals.
"We had some good chances and they had only one shot on goal and scored once — that's more important than the mistake of a referee."
Swansea will attempt to put things right in back-to-back home games this month against Arsenal and Tottenham, though the two North London giants are sure to take some beating.
The Gunners are next up this Saturday in what should be a free-flowing contest between two sides who love to control the ball.
Vorm may be right about the need for Swansea to become more physical.
But if ever there was a Premier League fixture where physical power may not be a huge factor, this is it.