Swansea Sets A Standard For Other Premier League Clubs to Follow

On his Saturday radio talk show this past weekend, Stan Collymore quipped, “You’ve got to spend big to win big.” Ain’t that the truth! Or is it, really?

Saturday’s convincing 5-0 win by Swansea at Loftus Road was a perfect dream start for Swansea’s duo of new signings — Chico Flores and Michu — and a good example that you don’t have to spend big to flourish in the Premier League.

The net cost for the two footballers with experience playing in La Liga? Just £4million.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch Saturday’s convincing win against QPR — where the scoreline could have been worse (Swansea hit the crossbar twice) — the performances by Flores and Michu, especially, were extraordinary.

Michu is a revelation. His two goals aside, the Spanish midfielder is an adept passer, sits right behind Danny Graham where the two players link up well, and doesn’t get knocked off the ball easily (thanks to his 6ft+ height and muscular strength). He’s also quick to put pressure on the opposition midfield, and is a joy to watch. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited about a Premier League debutante.

Chico Flores, the tall Spanish centre back signed from Genoa, is a defender who likes to push forward and score goals. Against QPR, he hit the crossbar with a thunderous header. Plus he ran up front a few times in the second half to help the attack.

I’m not sure whether Flores hasn’t been schooled in the Swansea system yet, or if he’s under new orders from manager Michael Laudrup, but one concern about Flores was his tendency to hoof the ball down the pitch on Saturday, which immediately resulted in Swansea losing possession each time.

Speaking of Laudrup, I honestly believe that Swansea made the right move in letting Rodgers go. Laudrup has made positive changes to the side — changes that Rodgers may not have made. Most importantly is the tactical switch by Swansea. Instead of having the wingers hug the touch lines like they did last season, Laudrup has moved them both inside so they pose more of an offensive threat where they can either shoot more often or provide support to striker Danny Graham. Thanks to the tactical switch, the performances by wingers Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge added a new threat Saturday, which Swansea’s opponents are typically not used to dealing with.

Speaking of Routledge, this season offers him the chance to seal a permanent position in the team if Scott Sinclair leaves. I’d love to keep Sinclair, but Routledge is an adequate replacement who, with better consistency, could finally find a home for his undoubted talent.

Swansea has a long way to go this season, but they have the footballers in place to improve on their eleventh place finish last season. There is no weak spot in this team from top to bottom. The only concerns I have are player depth and a Plan B — which may be tested this Saturday when Swansea plays at home against West Ham United (7:45am ET on ESPN2). But even without a Plan B, they’ll win more games than they’ll lose this season.

The bottom line is that I don’t believe you have to spend big to win big in the Premier League. When Collymore said that cliche, he was talking about the teams at the top of the table who want to win silverware. While Swansea is not in the category yet of winning silverware, the lesson that Swansea is teaching other Premier League clubs is that money isn’t everything. I’ve lost count the number of times this week when I’ve heard supporters and pundits say that their teams need to splash the cash before the transfer window ends. Splashing the cash is wasteful and will get you where Queens Park Rangers is — a mixed bunch of individuals who don’t play well together as a team.

Sure, spending millions on Robin van Persie is going to help Manchester United’s title claims. But too many other clubs spend large sums of money on players who are overpriced and overrated.

My hope is that Swansea continues to push ahead as a positive example of a new era in Premier League clubs — a club that is part-owned by supporters who have a seat on the board, has a smart transfer policy where they’re making money not losing it, and has a playing philosophy from their youth team to their senior squad where everyone knows how to play.

30 thoughts on “Swansea Sets A Standard For Other Premier League Clubs to Follow”

  1. “My hope is that Swansea continues to push ahead as a positive example of a new era in Premier League clubs — a club that is part-owned by supporters who have a seat on the board, has a smart transfer policy where they’re making money not losing it, and has a playing philosophy from their youth team to their senior squad where everyone knows how to play.”


  2. Gaffer
    i think it is great what Swansea was able to do last year and the first match this year but with limited finances the best they could hope for is maybe 6th and play in the League cup final.the biggest problem would be not being able to keep your best players because of the money the big clubs are willing to pay.with the roster turnover each year your not able to build a tight side like the top 4 sides.i would love to see the Swans make a Cup final and sneak into the Europa League.

    1. A cup final appearance and qualification for Europa League would be fantastic achievements.

      The club is a tiny Premier League side. Swansea still has no training ground of their own. So when big clubs come calling with large transfer bids, Swansea will listen. But the model and system that Swansea has in place will help the club survive in the top flight even when players are sold.

      The Gaffer

      1. “A cup final appearance and qualification for Europa League would be fantastic achievements.”

        Yet we get very little love despite managing to do exactly that.

        Did you listen to ‘Call Collymore’ then Gaffer?

        My experience of Swansea was them walking over us at their place and us doing the same to them at the Britannia. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why Rodgers persisted with rolling the ball out from the keeper to the defence, yet rarely made it into the final third of the pitch. I think if Laudrup can get them to grind when they need to hang on for a point they’ll evolve a little this season.

        1. I think among the fans of many top four clubs, there’s little respect for Stoke making it to the Europa League and a cup final. But among fans of other clubs, there’s certainly respect regarding what the Potters have achieved.

          Aye, I listen to Call Collymore now and again. Not religiously, but it’s good to have on in the car as I’m motoring about after a day of football watching on telly.

          The Gaffer

          1. I think you’re right. The teams that have been in the Premier League from the outset, Everton aside (albeit self inflicted), don’t realise the amount of financial catching up that clubs that have been away from the top table for years have to do. Stoke were out of the top flight for 23 years, Swansea longer than that – the Arsenal’s and Aston Villa’s of this world only have themselves to blame for falling behind where they perceive they should be. They’ve had all the benefit of the financial riches the Premier League bestows but been unable to maximise them effectively.

            For the smaller teams who’ve been out of it for a while there’s money to be spent on infrastructure rather than players. For example we have spent £12m in two years on a top class training facility and academy, before that the facilities would be comparable to Swansea. Luckily we built our stadium in the mid 90s, paying for it through relegation at the time but in terms of capital outlay it only cost £16m which seems a drop in the ocean compared to what gets spent today.

            From that point of view I’d argue that in the long term Swansea would benefit from developing that infrastructure to ensure future stability, rather than an excessive outlay on players or wages. A sound plan on and off the pitch, no matter what the style of play is necessary – look at Cardiff as an example of this not being in place and the millions of pounds wasted trying to get to the Premier League and now having to effectively sell their soul to have another shot at it.

          2. I have no respect at all for what Stoke have achieved. I do have respect for Cardiff though, who have made it to 2 cup finals within 5 years, despite being in the championship and on both of those occasions coming very close to winning. Your comment on Cardiff not having a sound plan is right in many aspects, however clearly have no idea about the situation. Cardiff have built a new stadium, massively improved their training facilities (which are better than Swansea’s! Although Swansea are building new ones) and have invested in their academy.

            1. Andy, how could you have respect for Cardiff who are the laughing stock of the Football League? Deep in debt, the club has been almost gone out of business several times recently and has now sold its soul (and history) to foreign investors.

              Plus, they have a soulless new stadium (with no name).

              The Gaffer

      2. he training ground is in the process of being built right now (thanks to us not being in debtand £23 mill from liverpool) and it’s in conjunction with the local university so as to keep bills down. the youth academy (tier 2 i think) will be based there to but completion is not expected for 12 months . if we stay up this year the proceeds from he record premier fee’s will go towards an extra 12,000 seats , we are slowly growing , and keeping the wolves away . every year there’s a few less clubs that can attract our players :)

  3. Always nice to have the small budget teams succeeding. Of course, the scale of success for them is lower than the big budget squads. Top ten finishes are like holding up the EPL trophy, the FA Cup is Champions League glory.

    As much as some hate Stoke City, they have shown how it can be done, though their youth program hasn’t been the best. The team had arguably the second best performance for an EPL team in Europe last season, despite having a small budget.

    Hopefully the Stokes and Swanseas can continue to show that they can spend wisely and easily avoid relegation.

  4. I hope Swansea is putting the money away that they are saving on these cheap players so they can hopfully resign them at a higher wage when there contracts come to a close. Otherwise what jtm371 said will probably be the case.

  5. Hey, look who’s on top of the League table on GD right now!

    Good for the Swans – I also like how they maintained more of an aggressive in-match posture vis-a-vis what a lot of recently promoted clubs have done in years past. Norwich too, did this. Took the fight at the opposition rather than automatically parking the bus and trying to grind a point.

    Worked well for the Swans against City last March. And against a lot of other clubs as well.

  6. “game 1” was the intended post

    I think Swansea will be fine but it’s not necessarily going to be moving up the table

  7. Teams like Fulham and Wigan have been in the Premier League for some time now. So it’s always been possible for smaller clubs to get up and stay up in the Premier League.

    1. True, but that’s not the point of the story. It’s not about small teams staying up, but it’s about how they’re doing it — by spending very little, giving their fans a seat on the board (as well as the club being partly owned by supporters) and having a playing philosophy which is able to adapt to change.

      Fulham is a small club but their record transfer fee spent is £11million, while Stoke paid £10million for Crouchie.

      The Gaffer

      1. Lets hope they stay up another season. Otherwise their model won’t be much talked about. And I’m guessing that if Swansea remains in the Premier League, at some point, it’ll pay big money for some player because it will then have the money to do so perhaps and they’ll need to to “progress”.

        1. Swansea is not only keeping their transfer spending in line, but they’re also keeping their wages low. I don’t foresee them spending tons of money in the transfer market. They don’t need to splash the cash to progress. They’ll do it on their own terms.

          The Gaffer

          1. It’s just year number 2 in the league. 😉 Hold your Welsh horseys just a little bit longer.

            What Swansea has done so far is impressive though.

  8. Wow, I like the Swans but lets try some perspective. Thumping a team in August that was 17th the previous May is not “winning big”. Come next May Swansea will not be in the top half and may well not be the top flight.

    They’re not Stoke and that is a big compliment!

      1. My apologies, your article seems to imply that Swansea is refuting the notion that a team needs to spend big to win big. By holding them up as a model, I concluded that you believe they were winning big. Apparently we agree that they are not.

        They appear to be making smart buys and are definitely following an approach that is best for small clubs long-term.

    1. Before today, Swansea’s record transfer fee paid was £3.5 million for Danny Graham. Today’s signing of Ki Sung-Yueng was for a transfer fee believed to be £5 million. I would hardly call that breaking the budget.

      The signings of Danny Graham and Ki Sung-Yueng, combined, is still less than Fulham’s record transfer fee paid for one player ( £11million for Bryan Ruiz, who has been a relative dud so far in the league).

      The Gaffer

      1. Even though they’ve lost Joe Allen and potentially Scott Sinclair, I really think all the moves they’ve been making are very impressive as Michu was linked with Manchester United and the other big teams and Jonathon de Guzman looks like a good loan signing. All these moves will keep them up in the EPL.

        1. I read it was double the $3.5 million, which would be $7 million. That would be just $4 million shy of Ruiz. And it took Fulham however many years to get to $11 million.

          Ruiz is a quality player. He hasn’t shone just yet, but may come good still. He’s not the toughest of players, but has exceptional ball skills. He played well enough this past Saturday.

          Michu was in my fantasy team. Laudrup is quality, which keeps Swansea’s run of good management going. They should stay up.

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