There are a lot of reasons to love Swansea City. Even if I hadn’t been supporting them for 32 years, I still think I probably would be writing this article. During the past 10 days, Swansea picked up three points on the road, got a home draw against Chelsea — and manager Brendan Rodgers was named manager of the month. The club sits in tenth place, and has the prospect of a home match against fellow new boys Norwich City at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea to look forward to.
In the meantime, here are my seven reasons to love the Swans:
1. Swansea has found their missing link. All season long I’ve been complaining that Swansea has been missing a creative midfielder who would be able to unlock defenses with clinical passes, to help Danny Graham. They’ve found that person in Gylfi Sigurdsson, an incredibly gifted Icelandic footballer on loan from Hoffenheim. He’s been so good on set plays and crosses that he’s kept new loan signing Josh McEachran on the bench. And how could you not love a player who is the chairman of a fishing industry company in his homeland of Iceland?
2. They no longer have the worst away record in the league. After Swansea’s 2-1 away win in the snow last Saturday against West Bromwich Albion, Swansea no longer have the worst away record in the league (thank you Fulham and Wigan). Football commentators will have to come up with a new tagline to give Swansea now that the tired line they’ve been pushing out is no longer valid.
3. Swansea sit at the top of the Fair Play League. The season is far from over, but Swansea’s excellent disciplinary record this season could help them qualify for Europe later this summer via the Fair Play League if they get permission from The FA to represent England.
4. Swansea plays with no fear. It’s incredibly rare to see a team such as Swansea, with no stars on their side, play without fear, no matter who the opposition is. In previous years, most newly promoted sides from the Championship would crumble under the pressure, play defensively or anti-football. But very few of them would push forward with such confidence and bravado like Swansea does. Earlier in the season, Chelsea clobbered Swansea 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. Last week, the Swans outplayed Chelsea and came within 30 seconds of beating them one-nil if it wasn’t for a fluke own goal. Best of all, for Swansea fans such as myself, they’ve begun to play without fear away from home too, picking up vital away wins against Aston Villa and West Brom.
5. The Swans are a joy to watch. It’s no secret that Swansea has one of the most, if not the most, pleasing style of play in the entire Premier League. It’s beautiful to watch them play themselves out of trouble at the back with their perfect triangles, and then catapult down the wings with either Nathan Dyer or Scott Sinclair dribbling past defenders. It’s something you don’t see very often in modern day soccer anymore. Earlier in the season, Swansea’s possession was tedious at times — they held on to the ball, but didn’t create many chances with it. Luckily those days are gone thanks to Sigurdsson, Joe Allen, Leon Britton and Kemy Agustien exploiting the holes in the midfields and defenses of opponents.
6. Swansea has a wonderful set of vocal supporters. Hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to hear some of the songs that Swansea have been singing, which have been a breath of fresh air in the Premier League where so many clubs sing the same songs. At the Liberty Stadium, you can hear the Welsh classic Land Of My Fathers. And at away matches, the Swansea City supporters are often louder than the home fans.
7. You’re watching stars in the making. From the manager, to the goalkeeper, to the defenders, to the midfielders and forwards, you’re seeing an incredibly talented team growing game after game. The reality is that this squad isn’t going to be around for long as the Premier League big boys will come in this summer and try to steal away their best talent. But what a joy it is to watch these players grow — most of whom have never played in the Premier League before this season.
On that note, my greatest fear about Swansea City this year is not that the team could get relegated or that their most valuable squad members will get sold, but it’s that certain transfer interest from top clubs could turn the heads of Swansea’s players and ruin their team morale. The current squad of Swansea players are hard-working professionals who aren’t egomaniacs and they all seem to be hungry to prove themselves in a team where every player is fighting to keep his spot. As long as that work ethic remains, and players don’t get too full of themselves, then Swansea will persevere no matter happens — even if their star players are swooped away by larger clubs.
The reality is that some of Swansea’s prized players will leave this summer. Swansea is too small of a club to say no to big offers. The record transfer fee the club has received for a player was £2,000,000 from Wigan Athletic for Jason Scotland. Many of Swansea’s players are worth five times or ten times that amount, but don’t be surprised if larger clubs in England, or Europe, would try to make lowball offers in the hopes that Swansea would accept them just because they are much greater figures than the club is used to. Hopefully, Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins will stick to his guns and realize the true market value of the talent he has.
Looking at the Swansea squad, there are several players who would interest other clubs. Obvious names include Michel Vorm, Nathan Dyer, Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair, but the reality is that every single player on Swansea’s team could be put in a shop window and there would be interested buyers. Those players include Danny Graham, Neil Taylor, Leon Britton, Ashley Williams, Angel Rangel, Mark Gower, Wayne Routledge and others.
Swansea sits in an enviable position as long as they can stay up in the Premier League this season. The club has a system and philosophy in place. Every one from the youth team to the reserves to the first team plays the same system of football, playing a passing game with the ball on the ground. We’ve already seen this season how effective that is. Swansea has been able to pass its way around all of the clubs in the Premier League to such an extent that they’ve only lost one home match all season, against Manchester United. Plus the club is 20% owned by the supporter’s club, and the club is debt free.
If they can continue that system and interchange players sold with keen acquisitions and youth players moving through their club, the club could act as a role model for other clubs wishing to move into the top flight and to stay there — instead of trying to buy their way to Premier League safety (i.e. QPR).
Swansea is a team you can believe in. The battle is far from over, but the future looks bright.