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.