No matter how you spin Swansea’s record so far this season, the situation looks bleak in South Wales. While the club has achieved victories against Aston Villa, Manchester United and Newcastle, it has been mired by a string of losses against Arsenal, Watford, Southampton, Stoke and Norwich, as well as draws against Sunderland, Spurs, Chelsea, Everton and — from this past Saturday — Bournemouth. If the club wants to pull itself out of its current spot of 14th in the table, something needs to change quickly given that the next several matches for the Swans are against Liverpool, Leicester, Manchester City and West Ham United.
In previous seasons at Swansea, the Welsh club has encountered barren patches of form but the club has always pulled itself out of trouble with relative ease without the worry of dropping into the relegation zone.
This time, however, it’s a completely different situation.
The last time Swansea played a decent 90 minutes was on August 30 when they defeated Manchester United 2-1. That’s almost 3 months ago. Since that win at home against Manchester United, the Swans haven’t won any of their last 5 matches at the Liberty Stadium. And both home and away, they’re averaging 0.77 goals per game.
Results aside, the current Swansea team is playing its worst form of football since being promoted to the Premier League in 2011. Confidence is at a low. The team’s performances are riddled with uncharacteristic mistakes and bad passing. And the Swanselona style of play has long been tossed out of the window. The only positives that remain are a few flashes of brilliant skill on the pitch usually as a result of Andre Ayew combining well with his teammates.
What has gone wrong?
Goals breed confidence. But vice-versa, a lack of goals can have a dramatic impact on a team’s confidence and morale. And that’s precisely what we’re seeing at Swansea right now. The players and coaches are working hard, but all of their efforts are ending in nothing because the club can’t put balls into the back of the net.
The easy analysis is to blame Swansea manager Garry Monk. But while Monk has made a couple of tactical mistakes so far this season, the number one reason why Swansea are in the situation they’re in is because they’re finally paying the price for selling striker Wilfried Bony in January.
When Wilfried Bony was in the team, the striker scored 25 goals in 43 league appearances. His strike rate of a goal every two games helped paper over cracks in the team as well as helping them punch above their weight.
While the sale of Bony for £25 million was too good for the Swans to pass up, the club only invested £9 million of the Bony money in the summer transfer window with the biggest signing being Eder for £4.7 million from Braga. The club decided that instead of splashing the cash to buy an up-and-coming striker, Swansea would put their faith in Bafetimbi Gomis to be the club’s number one goalscorer.
Unfortunately for the Swans, that gamble hasn’t paid off.
After Bony left the club in January, it gave Gomis a new lease of life. And then this season, he started it off with a bang, scoring a goal in each of the club’s first four matches. But the well has dried up and the inconsistent French striker hasn’t scored in his last 9 league games for the club.
Gomis can’t be relied on to produce results for the team. And Eder has had too little playing time to make much of an impact. He’s showed more glimmers of hope than Gomis, but Eder is probably not the answer either.
It’s a tough spot for the club and manager to be in at this time given their upcoming fixtures and dire results from their strikers.
I’m convinced that Monk is the man to manage the club moving forward for the foreseeable future, but he needs to be kept on a short leash. If the Swans can stumble through the next few weeks and pick up enough wins to take the pressure off the back of Monk and his players, then he needs to be given the chance in the January transfer window to add ammunition up front for the team. However, if results and performances continue at the same pace as they’ve done in the past few months, then the Swansea board of directors need to consider a change.
The situation the club is in right now is more of a direct result of the board’s decision to sell Bony. Monk could help tighten up the back four, but that’s not going to make enough of a difference if the team isn’t scoring at the other end of the pitch. What’s needed is for the club, directors and supporters to continue putting their confidence behind Garry Monk and his team. And vice-versa, the club’s coaching staff and players need to stay positive and play to their full potential. There’s enough talent in South Wales to get them through this rough patch, but additional resources are needed in January to strengthen this squad and return them to calmer waters.
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