Nathan Dyer recalls Swansea City upsets to warn team-mates of Bradford threat
IF there is a danger of complacency from Swansea City ahead of tomorrow's Capital One Cup final against Bradford, Nathan Dyer will give his team-mates a timely reminder of how recently it was the Swans who were hoping to cause an upset.
Michael Laudrup's Premier League side will be overwhelming favourites to triumph at Wembley, with their opponents becoming the first fourth-tier team in over 50 years to reach the League Cup final.
Although Swansea are far from being a top-flight heavyweight, their opponents' romantic, logic-defying journey to the final will ensure that Bradford have the neutrals' backing this weekend.
But Dyer will not allow the Swans to become blase in their unfamiliar role as the odds-on bookies' choice.
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That's because memories of Swansea's unlikely victories against teams from higher levels are still vividly clear in the winger's mind.
Dyer scored the first goal when Swansea, then in the Championship, knocked FA Cup holders Portsmouth out of the competition with a 2-0 win at Fratton Park.
And as the 25-year-old recalls the Swans' striking scalp on the South Coast, he has warned the club not to fall foul of a similar shock tomorrow.
"Bradford have got good players. Just because their team is in a different league, it doesn't mean their players are not good enough," he says.
"When we were in the Championship we were better than a lot of Premiership teams and we showed that.
"I remember going to Portsmouth and we were thinking 'We're better than them — we can do this'.
"So never take a team in a lower league for granted. Make sure you give them the respect they deserve but not too much.
"They've beaten Arsenal and Aston Villa, and I saw those games on TV myself so it's not just a fluke. They compete well and have got a big aerial threat as well."
Dyer speaks with fire and unabashed passion when he recalls the victory over Portsmouth, seemingly reliving the moments in the Fratton Park changing room before kick-off.
It is an experience he is eager to share with his Swansea team-mates, particularly recent arrivals such as Michu and Pablo Hernandez.
Dyer will also be keen to tell his newer colleagues about the Swans' last visit to Wembley — the stirring Championship play-off final victory over Reading in 2011.
"Personally I think I'll be able to help some of the other boys. I've had this sort of occasion before and it does get your heart racing and palms all sweaty," he says, shuffling in his seat with excitement.
"I'll know how to handle this time and take it all in my stride. But someone like Michu will be as cool as anything — I don't think anything bothers him whatsoever. There are no worries there, some of us will be able to get people settled down and get into a nice routine.
"There's been a lot of anticipation about the game and rightly so. It's going to be an amazing occasion and a great achievement if we win a major cup final."
It is a matter of conjecture whether lifting the Capital One Cup tomorrow would be the club's greatest ever achievement, with some merit to the claims that play-off victories and relegation escapes have been more important.
And although Bradford will be eager to deny Swansea the chance to have such a debate, Dyer insists Laudrup's men will be out to ruin the Bantams' cup fairytale.
"We don't ever go into games thinking of ourselves as favourites. We just go into games wanting to compete," he says.
"Bradford have beaten good teams to get where they are so you can't take them lightly at all. We've seen them on clips on tape, you get to see where their weaknesses and strengths are and who's a bit of a threat.
"You can get all the information you want but it's still about how you perform on the day that counts.
"They've got absolutely nothing to lose — that's the mindset they'll be going into the game with. It's good for them but we've got to make sure we do what we need to do.
"I've seen that they've got the Dalai Lama behind them and Dynamo the magician is a Bradford supporter.
"Football's funny like that — I've seen things about Swansea in the build-up that I never knew.
"We'll let our football do the talking, all of us collectively as a team and the fans."