Swansea City Season Preview: the re-building process

With the 2018-19 Championship season coming up, The Football Lab spoke to Swansea City fan Steven Carroll ( @StevenSOS1987 ) from the SOS Fanzine.

It feels like when you’ve been at your best as a club, you’ve had a consistent way of playing and a clear long-term strategy. After relegation from the Premier League last season, is this an opportunity to re-group and re-discover core values?

I certainly hope so. We’ve been firefighting for the last three seasons and the football has been dire for the most part. It will take time – the damage that’s been done can’t be rectified overnight – but at least now we have to learn lessons rather than another miserable season if we’d got away with it and stayed up again.

Graham Potter achieved excellent things with Swedish club Ostersund, but he achieved them over an eight-year period. Is patience the order of the day?

It has to be, Potter has done remarkable things in Sweden but it took time and I think a lot of our fans realise that we will need to be patient here. I’m hopeful we finally have a manager with a long term plan after the short term appointments we’ve seen recently. I hope he gets a proper chance to re-build the club.

All three players brought in at the time of writing are 19, while five players over 28 have left. Has there been a deliberate plan to lower the average age?

I hope so, I think we need young and hungry players rather than tried and tested ones on big contracts. That road has been unsuccessful for us and recruitment has without doubt the biggest issue in recent years and I’m hopeful the new manager will have the final say on this as that hasn’t been the case with the previous incumbents.

One of the players leaving is goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, arguably your best player over the last two seasons. Does the club’s apparent indecision in signing a replacement lend Kristoffer Nordfeldt and Erwin Mulder an opportunity to show what they can do?

It looks like it. Fabianski has been outstanding for us, we’ve completely undersold him as well, West Ham have got a bargain. Nordfeldt doesn’t convince me to be honest but he might be decent if he has a run of games. I’ve not seen Mulder play so I can’t comment on him.

Right-back Kyle Naughton seems a tad limited yet still started 34 league games last season. Are you hoping Connor Roberts can get more of a look in this year?

Definitely. Roberts did well in limited appearances last season and Naughton has flattered to deceive on the whole so I’m hoping Roberts will seize his chance this term.

Burnley and FC Krasnodar are reportedly interested in Alfie Mawson and Federico Fernandez respectively. Given that a lot of fans seem to think Potter will favour three at the back, could the lack of depth force him to gamble on Joe Rodon or Cian Harries?

Not sure yet, it’s hard to say until the window shuts. I think Mawson will go but he’s been injured so I think he’ll go close to deadline day which isn’t ideal. Fernandez could well move too but that one’s more up in the air I’d say. I’m not sure what formation Potter will play but he may not be able to play three at the back if we’re short.

Left-back Martin Olsson appears to have lost a yard of pace recently. Do you hope youngster Jordi Govea, who joins from Real Madrid, can bring that excitement factor?

I can’t see him playing, he didn’t go on the pre-season tour to Germany so I think Govea is one for the future not now.

Leroy Fer, Sam Clucas and Tom Carroll are your most experienced midfielders. With the former injured, do you expect the latter two to start off as the first-choice pairing?

You would have thought so unless Clucas goes. There’s a chance for Jay Fulton and Matt Grimes to push as well now and it’s now or never for those two. Carroll and Clucas are not great so there is a potential opening there.

Yan Dhanda joins from Liverpool while Matt Grimes had a decent loan spell at Northampton. Given the apparent dearth of established, quality attacking midfielders in the squad, do you see either of them making a first-team breakthrough?

Dhanda is probably more likely, but I’m still not sure what formation the manager will play yet so there may not be room for a number 10. Grimes is more likely to play deeper in my opinion.

The club seem open to getting Jordan and Andre Ayew off the wage bill. Joel Asoro and Oliver McBurnie have earned plaudits at Sunderland and Barnsley respectively, but are they at an earlier stage of their development than the Ayew brothers?

Not at an earlier stage of their development, the Ayew’s are established players. But if the both left I wouldn’t be too bothered, I’m hopeful that McBurnie and Asoro will be big players for us.

Swans aside, what are your thoughts ahead of the Championship season as a whole? Any potential dark horses for you?

Good question, this is a notoriously hard league to predict but I think Stoke are favourites at the moment.

Where will you finish?

I think Swansea will start slow and improve as season goes on and finish 13th but don’t quote me on that! Either way I think we are unlikely to go straight back up.

Thanks to Steven for his answers. The Football Lab’s verdict on Swansea can be found on We Love Betting from 30th July.