Swansea City stumble off the way after derby defeat to Cardiff City

Head coach Michael Duff has overseen Swansea's worst start to a league campaign for 32 years
Head coach Michael Duff has overseen Swansea's worst start to a league campaign for 32 years

Derby defeats will always sting.

But if losing to your rivals is one thing, losing your way is quite another.

That appeared to be the feeling - and concern - among Swansea City supporters after Cardiff City enjoyed the spoils of a south Wales derby victory on Saturday night.

And it could well be the worry for manager Michael Duff as he admitted he was under pressure following a sixth league game without a win - Swansea's worst winless start to a league campaign for 32 years.

As Aaron Ramsey and Erol Bulut led the celebrations at one end of a rain-sodden Cardiff City Stadium, so Duff and his players attempted to clap the travelling support.

The applause was not reciprocated - and one ex-player understood why.

"It's only six games in, but the lack of identity or seeing where this side is going, the fans will not stand for it," said former midfielder Andy Robinson on BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"It hasn't always been successful, it wasn't under Russell Martin (In terms of making the play-offs), but there's been a Swansea way, an identity, to be able to stick your chest out and say 'that's how we play', and if you lose, you die by the sword, - they didn't have anything like that."

Duff was appointed in the summer to replace Martin whose possession-based game fitted the 'Swansea Way' Robinson mentioned, a game of passing and control implemented and enjoyed under previous head coaches Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers, Michael Laudrup and Graham Potter.

Duff, having guided Barnsley to the League One play-off final last season and winning League Two promotion with Cheltenham Town before that, spoke of evolving Swansea's style upon his appointment.

But if there were some raised brows about Swansea's approach in the opening fixtures before Saturday night, eyes were widened by how Swansea set about attempting a first win in the Championship under their new manager.

"Swansea just looked like how Cardiff used to be over the last two or three seasons," said the former Wales and Cardiff defender Danny Gabbidon. "Rigid, not connected, passes not connecting, players not on the same wavelength, no real game plan, and that is just not the Swansea way.

"From a Swansea point of view I worry about that performance because it's so far removed from what we've been used to seeing the fans won't stand for what they've seen. My worry is will the players stand for it because some of them have been so used to playing a different way and that's not the Swansea City we know."

Former Wales striker Iwan Roberts agreed, suggesting midfielder and captain Matt Grimes was not enjoying the style of football, while former Swansea midfielder Owain Tudur Jones added: "What has really surprised me is how much Swansea have changed - good or bad, we're not sure yet under Michael Duff.

"But the football we've seen in the past under Russell Martin, the Swansea Way, is not what we'll be seeing under Duff."

Gabbidon called it chalk and cheese. Although Swansea did edge the possession statistics against a side that do not claim holding the ball to be a key strength, they had trailed 60-40 at one stage in the first half.

Overall this season possession has dropped from 64% (the second highest in the league) to 54%. Pass success has dropped from 87% (1st) to 80% (12th).

And while Duff promised to add pace to the team's play when he arrived, Opta analysts have Swansea down as the slowest movers of the ball in the division.

"There was no urgency, no quality," added Robinson. "I'm not saying players have downed tools, but they looked confused and that's the biggest concern. It looks like there was no cohesion in what they were doing."

A lack of cohesion may not be unsurprising given the turnaround of personnel since last season, including the departures of player of the year Ryan Manning and top scorer Joel Piroe.

Some 13 players arrived, including four on deadline day, and three who made their debuts on Saturday evening. That late activity was enough to prompt Duff to say, ahead of the derby, that Swansea's season was only now starting for real.

But, speaking after the Cardiff defeat, he did not shy away from the fact results have disappointed - especially given no Swansea manager since the club entered the Football League in 1919 has failed to win one of their first six league games.

But he was also clearly unrepentant in how he wants to go about things.

"There's been a lot of change at the club," said the 45-year-old. "We're coming from an extreme in terms of the way they played last season, but they went on a similar run. It's about sticking to the way I work, sticking to my principles, my values.

"I've been through this before at other clubs, but I stay consistent, I believe in what I do. I think I'm good at what I do, and it takes time."

With an away trip at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday before the visit of winless Sheffield Wednesday the following weekend, Duff knows that pressure will only build should he and Swansea fail to find a way to quell the concerns.