Swansea City Season Preview: Gylfi to leave?

Swansea City’s last two seasons have seen them finish 12th and 15th, but that only tells half the story. On both occasions the Welsh club were second-bottom at Christmas, requiring a change of manager to climb out of the mire. Supporter Steven Carroll from the SOS Fanzine discusses whether the club has become the top flight’s perennial escapologists.

Not sure about that. Last season was a great escape, but one before we had 40 points with 5/6 games to go so in the end we were fairly comfortable despite a mid season struggle. Saying that though now Sunderland have finally gone down there is a vacancy for an expert escapologist – I hope we won’t be applying for it!

Chairman Huw Jenkins was once the envy of most football fans across England and well-respected at Swansea. What has he done to lose the trust of supporters?

Put his own financial gain above everything else along with all of the previous regime. They kept the supporters trust out of negotiations that sold the club. Seeing as he was meant to be one of our own we feel let down. He said we needed it to take the club forward but that hasn’t happened yet. Most fans believe that’s crap and that he did it for the cash.

Your form after Paul Clement took over in January would have had you eighth over a whole season. What did he get right that Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley didn’t?

He was a lot more consistent with his approach than the other two, especially Bradley. Defensively we improved significantly and he got Fernando Llorente scoring, they were probably the biggest two improvements in 2nd half of year.

Your recruitment in January proved successful. How important were the additions of left-back Martin Olsson and midfielder Tom Carroll?

Very important, last summer was very poor and that was main reason we struggled last term even though other factors like managerial decisions also played a part.  Olsson was a good signing in particular, he offers far more going forward than previous left backs and Carroll came back a much better player than in 2014/15 and chipped in with a few assists that were vital.

Jack Cork has gone to Burnley but you’ve signed Roque Mesa, a diminutive Spaniard from Las Palmas. How is the midfield shaping up in your view?

Better than last term, Cork wasn’t in the side when we won 13 points from 15 at end of season. We had a good offer and accepted it, the move suited all parties. Mesa looks a good addition and was highly thought of in Spain. He looks a character as well, I’d expect a big impact from him.

You scored 17 goals from set pieces last year, the third most in the Premier League. Will it be a big blow to lose specialist Gylfi Sigurdsson?

Losing him is awful, without him we would have been with Sunderland last term, he was influential. We must reinvest significantly when he eventually goes. We’d need a direct replacement  and wide men as the ones we have no aren’t good enough. Failure to do this and another struggle looks likely.

A beneficiary of Sigurdsson’s deliveries was Fernando Llorente, who scored seven headed goals, the joint-most in the league. Should Clement try to accommodate both him and Tammy Abraham?

Definitely, as I’ve said the wingers are poor so a diamond would be a good way to keep them out of side. That way we’d have two good strikers out there plus a good attacking midfielder (I hope) and the ever reliable Leon Britton would be more likely to start. At the moment this formation is our best one.

Alfie Mawson also chipped in with three headed goals, Gareth McAuley being the only centre-back to score more. How has Mawson coped with jumping up two divisions?

It was a slow start and he was in and out of the side but under Clement he came into his own. He’s got real potential and has a good all round game. He’ll play for England soon I think, he’s very capable of making the step up. Future Swans captain too if he’s here another couple of years.

You conceded 70 goals last year, albeit only 26 under Clement. With no new centre-backs signed, could Kyle Bartley challenge Mawson and Federico Fernandez?

Not convinced. He did well at Leeds but he’s too rash for my liking. Good player in the Championship but no better than that in my opinion.

There’s some fans who don’t rate right-back Kyle Naughton – though you averaged half a point per game in his absence last year. Where do you stand on him?

Stats can be misleading. I don’t think he’s anything special, I’d rather see us sign someone better than him. We have too many players like him who are ok but if they left no one better would take them. This mentality needs to change.

Swansea aside, what are your thoughts ahead of the Premier League season as a whole?

Similar to last year, top seven will finish miles ahead of the rest but the order is harder to predict and title race will be closer.

Where will you finish?

Can I answer this once window shuts? I’ll say 12th for now.

The Football Lab’s Verdict

Slow summer business at Swansea suggests their resurgence under Clement has papered over well-known cracks in their squad. No senior defenders have joined a back-line that shipped 70 last term and a Sigurdsson-inspired surge may no longer be a viable escape route. 19th

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