As a Swansea City supporter, it’s been a frustrating experience watching the team play this season. It’s not necessarily the results, or lack thereof. It’s more that I know they can play better. I’m sure many of the Swansea footballers feel the same way, especially Michu who has cut a frustrated figure at times.
On paper, the Swans are currently in a relatively comfortable zone. They sit in fifteenth position in the Premier League, and are leading their Europa League group with maximum points from two matches played thus far. But going into the international break, there are warning signs that have appeared that need to be addressed. Otherwise, the club could start slipping down the table.
First, the positives. Swansea were fortunate to hold on to all of their key players this summer, which is a huge boost for the club considering the reported interest in players such as Michu and Ashley Williams. On top of that, Swansea manager Michael Laudrup was able to strengthen the depth of his side by acquiring striker Alvaro Vazquez (on loan from Getafe), central defender Jordi Amat (from Espanyol), defensive midfielder Jose Canas (from Real Betis), attacking midfielder Jonjo Shelvey (from Liverpool), striker Wilfried Bony (from Vitesse Arnhem) and midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo (from Real Betis). Plus, there was the return from injury of Neil Taylor.
Swansea now have more depth and fresh legs in every position on the pitch, enough to ensure that there are plenty of opportunities to rotate the squad throughout the season without fear of players being too tired.
However, so far, the results have been largely underwhelming… in the Premier League, that is.
So far this season, Swansea have saved their best performances, and most spirited displays, for the Europa League — convincingly beating Malmo 4-0 (on aggregate), St Gallen (1-0 at home), Petrolul Ploiesti (6-3 on aggregate) and, most impressively of all, Valencia (3-0 away).
In those victories, it’s been the Swansea of old, where the performances have come together almost perfectly.
While Swansea’s European exploits have largely gone unnoticed, partly because few people bother to watch or follow Europa League games especially if it doesn’t involve his or her own team, the club’s Premier League performances this season have been disappointing. The average pundit would throw out stereotypical explanations why there’s been a drop-off in Premier League form — players are too tired, lack of depth, the players are having difficulty adjusting to Thursday and Sunday matches, etcetera. But all of those reasons are just excuses. Instead, I argue that Swansea’s disappointing performances in the Premier League thus far and why the side are playing better in the Europa League are due to two main reasons: