Newly promoted Swansea City couldn’t have picked a better time to ascend into the Championship.
The Welsh club was a penalty kick away from being promoted to the league in May 2006, but Barnsley walked away victors that day in Cardiff.
In hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise for Swansea. The South Wales club now features one of the best sides Swansea has ever seen, which is heavily influenced by La Liga thanks to Swansea’s Spanish manager Roberto Martinez, formerly a player with Real Zaragoza, Wigan and Swansea City.
The Spanish influence doesn’t stop there. The style of play that the team employs is a traditional Spanish variety with lots of passing ball on the floor rather than hoofing them up the field, as well as an attacking style of play that is better suited for the Premier League than the old fashioned Championship.
Swansea’s squad is far stronger today than it was in 2006. The team now features six Spanish players: Andrea Orlandi (midfielder formerly with Barcelona and Alaves), Jordi Gomez (midfielder formerly with Espanyol), Gorka Pintado (striker formerly with Spanish side Granada), Angel Rangel (defender formerly with Spanish side Terrassa), Guillem Bauza (striker formerly with Espanyol) and Albert Serran (defender formerly with Espanyol).
It’s no wonder then that Swansea chose to play several friendlies the past two weeks in Spain to prepare for the grueling Championship season. The tour included a 3-3 draw against the Barcelona B side, a 4-0 loss to Espanyol, a 1-0 win against Palamos and a 2-0 win against Peralada.
The Spanish influence at Swansea is just one element of their success thus far. The biggest question mark about the Swans is that of experience. Can a Spanish style of play overcome the lack of experience in the fourth biggest league in the world? We’ll just have to wait and see.