Swansea City Season Preview

swanseaThe Football Lab interviewed Swansea City fan Steven Carroll, ahead of the new season. You can follow him on Twitter @StevenSOS1987 and have a read of his SOS Fanzine
Manager Garry Monk has earned many plaudits after his first full season in charge of Swansea. How impressed have you been with the work he has done?
Extremely. You can never be sure how a first time manager will perform but it would be fair to say he surpassed expectations. This year will be trickier as the fans will now be expecting us to build on last season’s success but I’m confident we’ll have another good year. 

Swansea used to be solely a possession-based team. Do you think the fact that you did the double over both Manchester United and Arsenal shows that you’ve acquired the ability to win a game, without dominating the midfield?

I’d say we’re still a possession side most of the time but last year proved we have a plan B for the first time in ages. One of Monk’s most successful move’s was to introduce the 4-4-2 diamond and we used it well in the home game against United and in subsequent games. So in answer to your question, yes we can now win a game without being as dominant as we had before. 

The club are subsidizing away tickets for supporters this season, so nobody has to pay more than £22. Do you feel that because the people who run Swansea City are supporters of the club themselves, they are more likely to act in the interests of the fans?

In short yes. Most owners only see pound signs and if someone doesn’t renew their season ticket they assume someone else will come along and take their place. Our board are different to most being from the area and life long supporters and this initiative is fantastic and I hope it encourages more clubs to follow suit. I won’t hold my breath on that though. 

Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski now looks an inspired signing. How important a player is he?

He’s one of our key men. Players player of the year last term, he gives the back four huge confidence with the way he dominates his area and his shot stopping is second to none too. I still can’t believe he was a free transfer, absolute bargain! 

Centre-back Ashley Williams started all but 1 league game last season. Do you think he could play in the Champions League?

I think he’s good enough but he’s 30 now and I think he’d be better off staying here. If he moved now he’d be on the bench more often than not whereas he plays every game for us. A year ago was his final chance to move to a big team but he signed a new deal with us instead so he’ll see his career out here I think unless he goes somewhere like the MLS for a final payday.

Neil Taylor has signed a new 4 year contract, while Franck Tabanou has signed from Saint Etienne. Which of the two players do you think will start at left-back?

Tough call, we will know more after Saturday’s friendly after Deportivo. I’d edge more towards Taylor at this stage. I haven’t seen much of Tabanou but the reports on him are good and Taylor needed better competition so I’m happy he’s arrived.

Swansea’s midfield looks strong. Do you think the team benefited from the mid-season arrival of Jack Cork?

Definitely, he’s a younger and more physical version of Leon Britton which is a big compliment. There’s a lot if competition for places in the middle of the park but Cork if playing well has to start in my opinion.

Ki Sung-Yueng looks a very intelligent midfield player. Do you think his performances show that you do not have to be big or strong to succeed in the modern game?

I think we’ve seen for years you don’t have to be big or strong to succeed these days. Look at Barcelona for the last few years with Xavi and Iniesta plus some if the players that Arsenal have had. Football has evolved these days and size isn’t as important as it once was. Ki was a revelation last season but he may actually have trouble getting in the team in a 4-2-3-1 as Jonjo Shelvey was in inspired form at the back end of last term.

What do you make of your current wide options? Do you think Jefferson Montero will start more games this season?

Very good, Montero, Ayew, Routledge, Dyer and Barrow give us more than enough depth although I’d expect Ayew snd Montero to start the season. Last season Montero had a few injuries which prevented him playing as much as we would have liked but if he remains fit I have no doubt we ‘ll see more of him in 2015/6.

Michu looks to be leaving the club this summer. After his brilliant debut season, what do you think has gone wrong for him over the last couple of years?

Two reasons, one is injuries, the other is he just doesn’t want to be here. I have no idea why, you’d have to ask him. The club have struggled to get in touch with him over the summer. He can’t leave soon enough for me which is a shame after his first season here but he’s got no respect for the club and therefore I have none for him either.

Striker Bafetimbi Gomis found form in the second half of last season, while forwards Eder and Andre Ayew have joined the club this summer. You must be happier with the attacking options now than you were when Bony left in January?

Yes we’re in better shape than we were then although I would have liked to have seen us splash out on a striker like Mitrovic who has signed for Newcastle. We’d been strongly linked with him for a while. In general though we have depth in that area now though so that’s pleasing.

Swansea aside, what are your thoughts ahead of the new Premier League season as a whole? Who do you think will do well? Which teams might struggle?

I can’t see Chelsea not defending their title, the others haven’t bought well enough at this stage, the top 4 will be same as last year but maybe in a different order. As for the strugglers, the 3 promoted teams plus Leicester, Villa and Sunderland.

You predicted a 13th place finish for Swansea last summer, and they finished 8th. What is your prediction for this campaign?

We’ve finished, 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th in last 4 campaigns. Therefore I’ll say 10th to complete the set!

The Football Lab’s Verdict

Swansea City’s recruitment in recent transfer windows has been hugely impressive, typified by the arrival of forward Andre Ayew on a free transfer this summer. Garry Monk has made the Swans into a more organized side than the one they were under previous managers, and this new-found sturdiness will see them to another top half finish. 8th