For the fifth game in a row in league and cup, the Swans failed to grab a win, although there were definitely plenty of positives to take from the 2-2 draw against an accomplished Spurs team on Sunday. Let’s not forgot after all, this Spurs team dismantled a very, very good Manchester City team only eight days earlier.
So those positives then: firstly, this game saw the Swans finally score from open play for the first time in five games – not only once, but twice, as well as having opportunities to grab more goals; Jefferson Montero was looking back to his blistering best after a slight downturn in his form following a recent niggly injury, Andre Ayew was at his all-action best again and we finally scored from a corner…or Harry Kane at least did for us anyway. But there’s one player who I’d like to single out for a bit of special praise, as I feel that sometimes his contribution to the Swans goes rather unnoticed outside of SA1. Many outsiders make jovial comments about the rhyming nature of his name, but few recognise the contribution that Angel Rangel has made to Swansea City.
Rangel is no longer first choice for the Swans since the signing of Kyle Naughton back in January, but Naughton would miss out on the chance to take on his former club this weekend because of personal reasons. This gave Rangel a chance to impress and despite his lack of first-team opportunities over recent months, impress he did. In fact, I’d argue that if it wasn’t for Ayew and Montero’s blistering showings from the wing, he’d have been my Man of the Match.
Now aged 32, Rangel is no longer a young whipper-snapper, but during Sunday’s game he patrolled the right-hand side expertly and efficiently and got forward well when needed. The 100% effort and passion in his showing was perhaps best summed up when it was him who ended up furthest up the pitch and hassling the Spurs defence into passing the ball all the way back to Hugo Lloris. Although not first choice at the moment, a sturdy performance from Rangel is what we should be use to expecting by now, as his consistency over the duration of his Swansea career has been excellent.
Rangel joined League One Swansea back in 2007 as part of the original Spanish‘ Three Amigos’ signed by Roberto Martinez. Whilst the other two ‘amigos’, Guillem Bauza and Andrea Orlandi, would leave over the coming years, Rangel has become part of the furniture at Swansea City and some would put him down as a bonafide legend now having helped the club climb from the third tier to the elite, as well as helping them stabilise at the top table. It’s incredible to think now that the right-back was signed on a whim, after being spotted by chief scout Kevin Reeves on a Spanish scouting mission, for a mere £10k. Nobody could have expected the service we’d get for that money then and he surely has to go down as one of Martinez’s finest purchases (if not the best for value-for-money).
He also earned himself a place as right-back in the Football League’s ‘Team of the Decade’. Quite an accolade when you consider how many right-backs have come through the Football League in the past 10 years.
I suppose it would be rude to talk about Rangel and not mention that he is not only famed in Swansea for his efforts on the pitch in Swansea, but also for his contributions off the pitch; especially for the city’s homeless. The chant ‘He feeds who he wants!’ resonated around the Liberty for a few games a couple of years ago, after a story emerged of Rangel and his Welsh wife taking sandwiches (which were about to be thrown out at a local sandwich shop) to the homeless in local hostels in the area. What a guy. Plus, having spent time with the guy in a Swansea bar a few years ago, I can confirm that he really is a friendly, modest and unassuming guy; but most importantly, he absolutely adores Swansea City and the Jack Army.
So he may not be the superstar that many clubs yearn for, but Rangel is one of ours – even if his ‘Jack-ness’ comes via a stint in the basement divisions of Spanish football and not the Swansea academy. He has already secured himself as a Swansea legend for his services to the club over the past eight years. Should Rangel start when Naughton comes back into the fold? Almost certainly not, but Sunday’s game acted as a nice reminder to just how good a footballer Angel Rangel is and a reassurance that the Spaniard is still a safe pair of boots when he is needed to be called upon.