Swansea City Season Preview: slow transfer business

swansea citySwansea battled with relegation for much of last season, but a late run saw them stay up with some comfort in the end. Problems have re-surfaced this summer though with slow summer transfer business not helped by boardroom changes. What are their prospects this year? The Football Lab spoke to supporter Steven Carroll. You can follow him on Twitter @StevenSOS1987 and read his Swansea Oh Swansea fanzine.

Firstly, many congratulations on Wales’ performance at the Euros. I suspect your fans enjoyed themselves in France?

Thanks. Yes as you can imagine it was amazing and just when you thought it had peaked it seemed to get better and better. All the fans really embraced the experience (we’d waited long enough!) and I’ve got some incredible memories that will live forever. No one could have foreseen we would have the last four but I think it was deserved, especially after we beat Belgium in the quarters. I will always wonder if Ramsey had played against Portugal if it would have a difference but we’ll never know now.

Other men who has enjoyed memorable Euros include Ashley Williams and Gylfi Sigurdsson, the latter impressing for Iceland. How important are they to Swansea?

Very. Ash has been the glue that holds the defence together for a long time now. His standards did dip last term but he was back to his best in France which bodes well for the upcoming campaign. Gylfi cleaned up at the player of the year awards in May and was influential in the second half of last season scoring numerous goals to help up stay up. Both players are completely and utterly indispensable.

You have secured top flight football for a sixth consecutive season. Do you now think of yourselves as an established Premier League club?

I suppose we are on the face of it but you can never rest on your laurels in this division. Last year was a wake up call and it was the first time in over a decade where we went significantly backwards. Hopefully the wake up call hasn’t been ignored but judging by the lack of transfer dealings this summer I’m not convinced in the slightest.

You picked up 20 points from your final 11 games. How much of a factor was Andre Ayew’s form and performances? And do you see his best position being up front or on the right?

He did play a part but I’d say Gylfi Sigurdsson was a bigger influence than Ayew. As for Ayew’s best position it’s a tricky one. I don’t think he’s an out and out striker but he can do a job there. On the right he fails to offer much width as he’s constantly looking to get in the box which can be a good and bad thing. I’ts difficult to know what to do with him but as we are severely short up front he will have to play there at the moment.

You conceded a lot of goals from set pieces last season. Has tall centre-back Mike Der Hoorn been brought in as a replacement for Federico Fernandez?

Not too sure really. We’ve let Kyle Bartley go on loan to Leeds so he may just be a replacement for him. Jordi Amat featured at the end of last term and did well so he may now be first choice. Or we may even see Francesco Guidolin alter to three at the back which he has favoured at Udinese in the past. We shall soon see.

Left-back Stephen Kingsley seems to have developed well, getting an excellent assist at West Ham at the end of last season. Could he push Neil Taylor for a starting spot?

Yes I’m sure he will be and he’s just penned a contract extension so he’s likely to see more opportunites. Neil Taylor has barely had any competition in the last two years and it’s something he needs to keep him on his toes so hopefully Kingsley will do that and more this term.

Jack Cork strikes me as a player that doesn’t make mistakes and does the simple things well. Would you agree with me that he is one of the more underrated midfielders in the Premier League?

I would agree with you completely. He’s the type of player who you may not notice until he’s not there but he does the ugly side of the game really well and can offer something offensively too as his great goal against Liverpool showed last season. In my opinion he should be in the next England manager’s thoughts. Roy Hodgson more or less ignored all of our players during his tenure so I’m hoping whoever the new man is will give a few of our lads an opportunity

The takeover of American investors Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan has been met with negativity by some supporters, partly due to the lack of transparency prior to the deal. Is there a danger that Swansea City will lose its sense of identity?

We still know very little about the two men concerned which is getting worrying now as the longer time goes on I start to think what have they got to hide? Most fans are not happy with the fact that the Supporters Trust were kept in the dark and the fact that the fans still haven’t been addressed by the new owners. We are concerned that having been a model for all clubs that we might become just any other club which would be a real shame.

Transfer activity this summer has been surprisingly slow. Are fans content with the squad in place, or are improvements needed more urgently than business suggests?

They are needed urgently. We have no strikers unless you count Ayew as one so we need two there. The midfield needs bolstering, a new right back needs to come in and maybe even a wide man too. most of the new arrivals need to be first team players too, not squad players. As things stand we are weaker than last term which is very worrying.

QPR fans weren’t necessarily sad to see Leroy Fer go. What did you make of his performances in his loan spell last season? And did you need another central midfielder?

He did well to be fair and at a price of around £5 million was a good deal all around. I suppose there is a danger than now he has a long term deal will he ease off and not perform as well as he did. Time will tell but I hope not. I’d still like to see another midfielder come in.

Other players coming in are Tyler Reid from Manchester United and George Byers from Watford. Do you expect them to be used in the development squad initially?

You would think so. We seem to love signing players like those two but they never really get a look in and end up moving on. It would be no surprise at all if the same happened again with Reid and Byers but hopefully they can make an impact at some point.

Modou Barrow impressed last season with his pace and energy. Is there potential for him to get more starts this year?

Barrow was one of the bright spots of last season and he was unlucky not to feature more often. I’m hoping this will be the year he becomes a regular starter. He has pace to burn and when he gets the ball you think he might just make something happen and not many of the current squad are like that. The fans love him as well.

Forward Eder had a disappointing season for Swansea, but ended up scoring the winner in the Euros final for Portugal! Why couldn’t he perform at the Liberty?

The question should be how did he score the biggest goal in the history of Portuguese football? The answer is I have no idea! He’s useless, but everyone can have that one moment of magic and fortunately for him he did in the final against France. I’m convinced it’s a one off though, there were no tears shed when he left here but good luck to him.

What are your thoughts ahead of the Premier League season as a whole? Any potential dark horses for you?

It’s going to be fascinating at the top with the likes of Guardiola and Conte taking over teams and Mourinho going to Old Trafford. Predicting who will win the league looks harder than ever but it’s got all the hallmarks of a great campaign. As for a surprise package I’m really not sure. Could Leicester be up there again? Possibly but you’d expect them to be in the top half rather than top four.

Where will you finish? You predicted tenth last summer – not too far off…

I was lucky to be that close last term. This year I’m going lower although you can never be 100% convinced until the transfer window shuts. I’m going to say 16th.

The Football Lab’s Verdict

Off-field uncertainty and slow summer investment makes for a tough season for Swansea. Sigurdsson is an asset but strengthening is needed at both ends of the field. 18th