No matter what happens for the remainder of Swansea’s season, I predict the club is going to have a tough time keeping its manager Brendan Rogers and many of its starting eleven in South Wales. This is a team that features little to no previous Premier League experience, but given how the team has performed so far, it’s only a matter of time before the big clubs come knocking as they try to steal away the rising stars.
After ten games this season, Swansea City sit in tenth position in the Premier League. The club has picked up convincing victories against Bolton, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City, as well as draws against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sunderland and Wigan. The only defeats they’ve received have been at the hands of Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and high-flying Norwich City.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Swansea have settled comfortably into life in the Premier League and have been a breath of fresh air. Of course, the season isn’t over yet and there’s still a long way to go.
Up next for Swansea is the club’s two most challenging fixtures. On Saturday they travel to Anfield to play Liverpool, the fixture that is the most mouthwatering one of the season for Swans supporters given the history between both clubs. Then the following Saturday, they play at home against Manchester United, the first big side to visit South Wales this season.
While I’m not expecting Swansea to pick up any points against Liverpool or Manchester United, I still think they’ll give a good account of themselves. There have been so many positives from this Swansea side this season that it’s hard to focus on just one. That’s one of the reasons why I believe Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins is going to have his work cut out for him in the next 12 to 18 months. Big clubs will come knocking with big offers to pick up manager Brendan Rogers and several of the talented players. With Swansea being a small club, their talent in South Wales could be ripped apart. It’d be a shame because there is tremendous team spirit at the club as well as an excellent chemistry. But at the end of the day, it is a business and everyone has their price.
One of the aspects of Swansea that I have enjoyed watching the most this season is how you see them learning as they go. Other than a few rare exceptions, this is a team of eleven players who have never played top flight football together. But you can see that they’re thinking on their feet. They’re growing as each game unfolds. A perfect example of this was how the side played the last ten minutes against Bolton and how they were sure not to make the same mistakes that happened in the final ten minutes of the Wolves game. The experience they’re creating is done on their feet.
So the eleven reasons why I’m optimistic about Swansea’s season is the entire team itself. Each of the players deserve recognition. Not just for the convincing win against Bolton, but by the passion and team spirit that the side has shown throughout the ten games so far this season.
- Joe Allen. I’ve been encouraged by is the performance of 21-year-old central midfielder Joe Allen. The talented youngster is a product of Swansea’s youth academy. He rarely makes a mistake, is quick on the ball and has the confidence and skill to play with the ball at his feet without knocking it needlessly away. His goal against Bolton was a beauty.
- Nathan Dyer. If one player has impressed the neutrals more than any, it’s Nathan Dyer. The interesting story about this 23-year-old right winger was that when he joined Swansea from Southampton for £400,000, he was a misfit who was convicted of stealing cash and credit cards from bags outside a nightclub. His transfer to Swansea gave him a new lease on life and he quickly started scoring goals for Swansea. Dyer is an energetic and skillful player who loves to dribble the ball, and make darting runs into the box.
- Leon Britton. An Opta stat from the Bolton game summed up why this former West Ham player is the engine of the squad. In the 90 minutes he played, he completed 100% of his passes (67). That’s the first time a player has completed 100% of his passes in one Premier League game in the last six seasons. He’s short, but he’s constantly moving around the middle of the park, spraying balls this way and that. And as a defensive midfielder, making the much-needed tackles when needed.
- Neil Taylor. It’s no wonder that Newcastle United pushed very hard during the summer to try to sign Taylor, the left back. The Welsh defender has made significant progress since just last season and is a tenacious player when he needs to be defensive, but is also not afraid to push forward down the left wing and to aid the attack when needed. Very dependable. And it was only last season when he was playing non-league football.
- Michel Vorm. The Dutch number two goalkeeper is one of those flashy number ones who loves to be the center of attention. In the short time that I’ve seen him play this season, after his transfer from Utrecht, he has incredibly fast reflexes, he loves to dive in mid-air and seems very comfortable when collecting crosses in the box. When the chips are down, he’s the type of player who will stand up and rescue you a point.
- Angel Rangel. It’s hard to pick a player of the season so far this year, but Angel Rangel (a player who most British commentators are unable to correctly pronounce his name) stands out for me as one of the best. The right back is a superb passer of the ball and often is a key component to linking up with the midfield and forwards when Swansea score. He’s the type of player who is so sound that he sometimes doesn’t stand out. But watch him closely and you’ll see how skilled he is.
- Danny Graham. Swansea’s record signing (£3.5 million) had an awful start to the season and missed several glorious chances. But the former Watford striker has regained his goalscoring form and has been scoring some wonderful goals for the Welsh side. Already this season I’ve seen how calm and clinical he is in one-on-one situations with the goalkeeper. And he’s also fast to react in the box. He’s quickly growing on me, but will need to continue to prove he can be consistent in front of the net.
- Mark Gower. When Gower plays, Swansea is a better side. And that’s a massive compliment to Gower when you consider that he has some of the toughest competition for his central midfield slot — namely Wayne Routledge and Stephen Dobbie, two very talented players. He works well with Britton. And can deliver a wonderful throughball as well as defend when he has to.
- Ashley Williams. The rock in defense has made a couple of mistakes this season but is still that type of central defender who you want to have in your side. The type of defender who isn’t afraid to throw his ball at a shot to block it from going in the net. He’s one of the main reasons why Swansea have a strong defensive record at home (this season) and why the team got promoted last season.Not bad for a former Stockport County footballer.
- Garry Monk. The captain of the side and the type of leader you want on your team. He’s been playing most of the season with a numb foot but has still battled on and done wonderfully well in central defense for Swansea. He’s calm under pressure and is skilled enough to pass the ball around the back without panicking. He’s the only veteran on the team (32). I don’t know him, but he seems like the type of captain you’d love to play for — judging by the team camaraderie.
- Scott Sinclair. Yes, he’s sometimes too greedy in front of goal or around the box, but he continues to come through for the Swans with goals from open play as well as being one of the best and most consistent penalty takers I’ve seen for the past two years. He’s a talented dribbler, has a inch-perfect shot, loves to run past players and never disappoints. He’s always the first name on the teamsheet in my opinion.