by Ian Wilson

After suffering at the hands of ITV’s midweek coverage of perhaps one of the most uneventful FA Cup games in history, (which coincidentally was a replay of another) what became most apparent was the marked difference in styles and appeal of the top English clubs.

My father in-law is a lifelong Wolves supporter and insisted on tuning in; however after about 65mins of the cup tie torture against Birmingham, he decided that painting our skirting boards would be more entertaining.

There are teams like Wolves, Aston Villa and Birmingham, who play a kind of football, to half empty stadiums, and then there are teams like Swansea and Norwich; teams that football supporters (of all clubs) actually want to see.

Brendan Rodgers has received many plaudits for the way his un-fancied Swansea side tackle the game and rightly so. They are easy on the eye, play attacking football and in Leon Britton have a player whose pass success rate is higher than that of Xavi at Barcelona. 93.3% vs. 93% respectively for those who disbelieve.

Like Norwich City, Swansea play in little triangles, creating angles for each other and moving into space. They are not stuck with the rigidity of formations of old.  Unlike Mick McCarthy’s unlikeable Wolves side playing a strict 4-4-2 with no flair, they represent the future of the game.

Fabio Capello’s insistence that England would stick with 4-4-2 in what has to be the most dreadful English World Cup display since 1994 is another example of how not to set a team up.  Everyone hoped the £6m per year man knew something we didn’t, but the reality was to the contrary.

Paul Lambert doesn’t have one particular system for every game and will often change personnel.  He’s not so much of a purist like Rodgers, but the heart of the team is not dissimilar. The midfield is packed with a mixture of talented yet lightweight players such as Anthony Pilkington, Wesley Hoolahan and David Fox, together with stronger ball winning grafters such as Andrew Crofts and Bradley Johnson.

Yes the players are performing well, but it’s Lambert who is getting the best out of them; and entertaining people at the same time.

Whoever the personnel, the midfield is usually packed. This gives options for many players to join the attacks (as seen for both the goals against West Brom), whilst also providing plenty of cover when opponents are on top or superior.  Couple that with confident strikers that can finish and a superb goalkeeper and you’re onto a winner.  The Swansea way is not dissimilar.

Yes the players are performing well, but it’s Lambert who is getting the best out of them; and entertaining people at the same time.  It’s actually impossible to get a ticket at Carrow Road these days and the ground could be sold out 2 times over.

Things are going so well there’s even a clamour for certain players to be called up for international action.  It’s impossible to think that the mesmeric Hoolahan only has one Irish cap and the solid Russell Martin only one for Scotland, Whilst Marc Tierny, Pilkington and goalkeeper John Ruddy continue to be tipped for call-ups.

From a selfish point of view, I hope they change their mobile numbers. So many players struggle with the duplicity of international responsibility and the weekly graft club football.

The only player I hope does get the call is Grant Holt. Continually ridiculed by the national press and opposing fans, he was under pressure at the start of the season, often stuck on the bench and rarely coming on.  However, over the last 3 months his contribution has been immense.  Every time he steps up a level he raises his game. Witness his contribution to the second goal against West Brom for supporting evidence.

He’s been in the Team of the Year for League Two, League One and The Championship in successive seasons.

The one thing that would finish off the Grant Holt story would be a goal in Euro 2012. A thought not as far fetched as it once was.