As the start of the new Premier League is just a few days away, we look at how Swansea City could fare in the coming months.
Overview of last season
Last season was an unfamiliar one for Swansea fans, for the first time in years the club hadn’t improved on their previous campaign. Garry Monk took a side that finished 8th to one that was dangerously close to the bottom three. There also seemed to be some problems in the dressing room, which resulted in Jonjo Shelvey leaving for Newcastle United in January. South Wales was very much doom and gloom until Francesco Guidolin stepped into the managerial hot seat, after Alan Curtis spent some time as interim boss. The Italian was then able to get the best out of star men Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Ayew, as the duo then fired the side to a comfortable 12th place finish.
What to expect in the coming season
Last season, Guidolin had to put his philosophy to one side and grind out results, often playing defensive minded football. This season should be different, after a full pre-season with his players he is now able to implement the attractive football he was known for at Udinese. His teams in the past have been known to be filled with plenty of pace and physicality, but hasn’t been afraid in the past to throw out his system and try again with something new – even in the middle of a campaign. He has usually favoured a three-at-the-back system but that hasn’t been seen once during his time at Swansea. He is also a great coach for developing players, and isn’t one to ask for new players just for the sake of it – which will be music to Huw Jenkins’ ears.
Transfer window, Ayew gone... Williams to follow
The people in charge of transfers at have come under scrutiny the past 12 months, and as of yet have brought in Spanish forward Fernando Llorente and are close to signing his compatriot Borja Baston, with Dutchmen Leroy Fer and Mike van der Hoorn. Three strikers have been let go, with Oliver McBurnie the only striker to last the summer. Losing Ayew to West Ham is a big miss, and Swansea do need to add another goal threat in order to push on this season. Someone like Nacer Chadli of Tottenham would be ideal.
Ashley Williams seems like he is also on the verge of signing for Everton for £12m. Replacing him, the player, will be no easy task but Swansea have dealt with worse losses. Replacing him, the captain, is going to be extremely difficult. In fact, it’s near impossible to replace what he means to Swansea.
Swansea have generally had a successful pre-season, winning five of their six games, without several star players as they have been given extended rest due to them competing for their countries over the summer. Guidolin’s side has played a mix of 4-2-3-1 and the more defensive 4-3-3 in these friendlies, but is expected to use the former when Gylfi Sigurdsson returns to the squad.
A player to look out for
A few people had a giggle when Fer joined Swansea on loan in January, and more so when he made a permanent switch last month. He doesn’t have a good reputation in England, but he has shown a lot of promise in the short time he has been at Swansea. He’s great on the ball, loves a tackle and can score goals. It’s just his inconsistency that thwarted him at Swansea, but with a permanent deal and a chance to find a home in South Wales, Fer could turn into a real gem this season.
Strengths in the squad
There’s a lot of creativity in Swansea’s midfield, with Sigurdsson, Fer and Jefferson Montero all able to create chances. Swansea’s major problem last year was scoring goals, now that two capable strikers have been brought into the squad, they should have enough ammunition to score bagfulls this season.
Weaknesses, the defence
The defence as a whole doesn’t look overly impressive. Williams moving to Everton has left a gaping hole, that needs to be filled as soon as possible. Jordi Amat and Federico Fernandez will likely start the season as the first-choice pairing, both capable defenders but ultimately a step down from last season. Kyle Naughton seems to have fought off Angel Rangel and will be the first choice right-back going into the new season. The former Spur man has never really impressed in a Swansea shirt and it’s surprising that the Swans haven’t used the transfer market to upgrade in that area. One issue at a time I suppose.
A young player to look out for
Modou Barrow burst onto the scene last season, and forced himself into Guidolin’s side. He was initially presented as a pacey winger with not a lot more to his game, but over the past few months he has improved in the build up play, tracks back on defence and he can be a goal threat – perhaps a sign of Guidolin’s tutelage. He’s just signed a new contract at the club, changed his shirt number from 58 to 17 and is ready to make a name for himself in the Premier League.
Swansea needed to buy, and to Huw Jenkins’ credit, they did. Sort of. Two quality strikers have been brought in, to help with the blow of losing Ayew. Guidolin seems the right man for the job, and if they can add another threat going forward in Chadli, coupled with another centre-half, they can have a really impressive season. A lot depends on the remaining 22 days of the transfer market.
Predicted finish: 13th