Opinion: What is Jefferson Montero’s role at Swansea?

Frozen out since Francesco Guidolin’s appointment, is there a resurgence on the horizon for the Ecuador winger?

Opinion: What is Jefferson Montero’s role at Swansea?
The smile is back on Jefferson Montero's face | Photo: D Legakis Photography/Athena

It feels like a long time ago now, but back in August, Swansea City's Jefferson Montero was the Premier League's in-form man, terrorising full-backs like it was second nature.

The Ecuadorian made a name for himself by knocking the ball past his man, driving towards the byline and crossing for Bafetimbi Gomis, who at the time also seemed unstoppable.

The slump

His decline since then has been dramatic, and has mirrored that suffered by his club Swansea this season. They have been far from great since that remarkable month in the warm-weathered August.

In the first three games of the Premier League season, Montero created eight chances, more than any of his teammates. In his 15 matches since, he created just a further 14.

Francesco Guidolin was appointed as Swansea’s head coach on January 18th. Montero’s first minutes under the new boss came last weekend, at Stoke. That appearance came on the second of April - a gap of 75 days.

Getting back in favour

Things changed at Stoke though, during the game when Guidolin decided to bring Montero on to add some pace to a side that desperately needed it. The game looked dead as Swansea were down 2-0 when Montero came on just after the hour mark, but the team looked rejuvenated and went on to come back to tie the game.

As Swansea’s season has been symbolised through the form of Montero, it made sense that the trend continued in Staffordshire. However, it does bare the question of whether he has been underused during Guidolin’s reign.

Delving deeper into the issue, during the months of September and October, Swansea’s go-to plan on the attack did at times seem to be little more than giving the ball to Montero and letting him beat a man and cross for Gomis or Andre Ayew.

Montero, centre, celebrates scoring for Swansea City last season | Photo: ITV
Montero, centre, celebrates scoring for Swansea City last season | Photo: ITV

The success didn’t last, as opponents quickly learned to double up on the winger to negate the threat. This was exacerbated by the fact that Montero’s left-flank partner, Neil Taylor, doesn’t offer much of an offensive threat. The Welshman averages a chance created every 2.2 games.

It seems that the key is to use Montero sparingly; perhaps bringing him off the bench to run against tired legs and tired minds might be the better option. Fortunately Swansea are blessed with several talented wingers in Ayew, Wayne Routledge and Modou Barrow so leaving Montero on the bench shouldn't harm the team too much.

This is all presuming that Guidolin doesn’t keep trying a new formation each game though, which isn’t granted. From just the eye test it’s clear that Swansea’s performance is much better – especially going forward - when the side plays with two wingers as opposed to the diamond.

Next season?

Looking towards the future, it isn’t guaranteed that Montero is even going to be at the club next season with an abundance of wingers in the first-team squad, and Kenji Gorre surely on the cusp of making the leap into senior football.

With possibly a new manager coming into the club too, he might decide that Montero isn’t good enough for the squad, as Guidolin seemed to have done. The Italian claimed that the winger needed to improve his overall game, and that he couldn’t trust Montero. He has since redacted those comments following his performance against Stoke.