I consider myself to be a very respectable football fan and I usually would not dream of launching a visceral verbal attack from the stands on a player wearing my team’s shirt.
However, like many other Swansea fans in attendance at Swansea’s FA Cup 4th Round loss at Ewood Park back in January, enough was enough and I succumbed to such ‘yobbish’ behaviour.
As our first choice striker trudged off the pitch, I found myself booing and throwing some unpleasant letter words his way – not really something I do at a football match ever. Our striker was hopeless on the pitch and his attitude stunk off it. The striker I refer to is Bafetimbi Gomis, a striker by January who I never wanted to see in a Swansea shirt again. Yet, I write this 7 months later hoping he stays. Funny bunch us football fans.
Last pre-season it was unclear whether Gomis was competition for Wilfried Bony or a strike partner in a new formation, but it’s fair to say that the Jack Army welcomed the Frenchman with open arms. Here was a player with a great goalscoring record in Ligue 1, international caps for France and the accolade of the quickest hat-trick in Champions League history.
For whatever reason, it didn’t click for Bafe straight away, but us fans were happy to give him time. Sadly, he wasn’t keen on ‘time’. Some ill thought out comments to the French press saw his stock plummet to rock bottom amongst the Jack fanbase and I, like many others, couldn’t wait for him to be out of our club. However, he was soon our only striker.
Bony’s mega money deal to Manchester City saw the Swans left with just Gomis as their only real striker option. But even when finally given the gig he wanted as our first choice striker, he complained, before then retracting his statements about wanting out and calling himself a ‘Jack’ (once again, an act that didn’t go down well with true Jacks). Football fans are fickle though and there was only one way he was ever going to win the fans back and it definitely wasn’t going to be through talking in the press: Gomis needed goals. And they came.
Bony gone, no interviews to the press and backing from the manager, Gomis’ resurgence was underway. He had netted just once in the league between August and December, but would grab six in the second half of the season, many match winners too.
For a while, I’d cheer his goals (obviously) but refuse to sing his name after his exploits in the media over the January transfer window. However, at the last game of the season at Palace I did find myself singing his name and unknowingly, until then, I realised I’d forgiven him. In fact, I like him. More importantly, I think it is vital that Swansea keep hold of him for the upcoming season, despite interest from a money bags club from the UAE.
Here is a player who has now overcome the initial tough teething process some foreigners experience when they arrive in the Premier League, finished last season on a high and a player who seems to now feel a bit of love from the club; I do not think it is a coincidence that he has been at the front of a lot of advertising this summer.
For me, it is absolutely crucial that Gomis starts the season as Swansea’s main striker and we should not even entertain any offers from overseas or from these shores. If you told me back in January that I’d be writing that last sentence, I’d have probably laughed in your face.