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Swansea tracking towards another play-off tilt - Interview
Wednesday, 23rd Dec 2020 15:52 by Clive Whittingham

Steven Carroll from the SOS fanzine and Phil from Planet Swans reflect on Swansea’s better than expected start to the season and what they need to make sure 2021 goes one better than their play-off near miss of 2020.

How has your season gone so far?

Steve: Very well, better than expected if we’re being honest. Last season we overachieved and I was expecting mid-table this year so to be pushing for promotion is very encouraging.

Phil: Season is exceeding expectations at the moment. Steve Cooper has us set up strongly at the back and whilst we are yet to score more than two in a single game, we have eleven clean sheets to boot and rarely look like losing games

Swansea league results so far…
Preston 0-1 Swansea Gibbs-White 53
Swansea 0-0 Birmingham
Wycombe 0-2 Swansea Ayew 13, Lowe 23
Swansea 2-1 Millwall Bidwell 46, Cabango 68 – Bradshaw 51
Swansea 1-2 Huddersfield Ayew pen 33 – Toffolo 23, Koroma 67
Coventry 1-1 Swansea Shipley 19 – Ayew 41
Bristol City 1-1 Swansea Wells pen 83 – Lowe 51
Swansea 2-0 Stoke Fulton 30, Palmer 87
Swansea 2-0 Blackburn Cabango 25, Ayew 61
Brentford 1-1 Swansea Toney 36 – Ayew 77
Norwich 1-0 Swansea Stiepermann 84
Swansea 1-0 Rotherham Grimes 28
Swansea 1-1 Sheff Wed Ayew 60 – Reach 27
Forest 0-1 Swansea Roberts 43
Boro 2-1 Swansea Watmore 26, 67 – Dhanda 78
Swansea 2-0 Luton Roberts 2, Ayew 89
Bournemouth 0-0 Swansea
Cardiff 0-2 Swansea Lowe 6, 72
Derby 2-0 Swansea Kazim Richards 4, Jozwiak 37
Swansea 2-0 Barnsley Lowe 2, Adeboyejo og 66

Some complaints about the style of football last season but Steve Cooper looks to be doing a great job from the outside, where do you stand on him?

Steve: The style isn’t as easy on the eye as previous managers but he’s achieving the best he can with what he’s got. He’s found a formation that suits our players and we’re reaping the rewards.

Phil: Cooper has had some unfair criticism at times, he is hampered by relatively low budgets and while we are maybe not the most attractive on the eye at times his style is effective and gets us results so it's difficult to complain too much.

You do seem to fall in a hole every now and again, randomly and without warning, twice at Loftus Road recently and once when I saw you at Derby last week, is that just Championship being Championship?

Steve: I think Derby was a rare off day, we’ve defended well on the whole so far but everyone plays badly occasionally. In reference to the other games, the league trouncing you gave us in April 2019 was awful. But when you have a useless goalkeeper like Kristofer Nordfeldt you’re always going to be in trouble. The cup hammering last season was a mostly reserve side, but it was still very poor.

Phil: As you have pointed out every now and again we throw out a crazy result where we just don't turn up for games. Ironically it does often seem to happen at Loftus Road which is surprising but remember what happened when we unleashed Michu on you for the first time. Seriously though, we know what this division is about and you cannot take results for granted.

What team, style and set up can we expect from Swansea on Boxing Day?

Steve: 3-5-2 is our favoured formation. We’re likely to be tough to break down and will use the wingbacks to try and provide width and rely on Andre Ayew to create or score.

Phil: In terms of Boxing Day you can expect us to line up five across the back and be tight. With a few exceptions, Cooper sets his sides up well away from home and we generate some good results. It will be a tight game and I'll go for 0-0 or a 1-0 Swans win.

Any rumours of January incomings or outgoings?

Steve: Nothing of note yet, but we need a striker if we really want to push for promotion. We’re not scoring enough and it’s going to cost us.

Phil: We don't have a big budget at all for the New Year largely due to the financial issues we are all facing. We really do need an out and out striker as this is the one thing we are missing but whether we have funding to get one remains to be seen.

Ins >>> Jamal Lowe, 26, RW, Wigan, £800k >>> Ryan Manning, 24, LB, QPR, £150k >>> Ryan Bennett, 30, CB, Wolves, Undisclosed >>> Joel Latibeaudiere, 20, CB, Man City, Undisclosed >>> Korey Smith, 29, DM, Bristol City, Free >>> Freddie Woodman, 23, GK, Newcastle, Loan >>> Morgan Gibbs-White 20, AM, Wolves, Loan >>> Marc Guehi, 20, CB, Chelsea, Loan >>> Viktor Gyokeres, 22, CF, Brighton, Loan >>> Kasey Palmer, 23, AM, Bristol City, Loan

Outs >>> Joe Rodon, 22, CB, Spurs, £10.8m >>> Bersant Celina, 24, AM, Dijon, £2.7m >>> Kristoffer Peterson, 25, LW, Dusseldorf, £400k >>> Erwin Mulder, 31, GK, Heerenveen, Free >>> Courtney Baker-Richardson, 24, CF, Barrow, Free >>> Jefferson Montero, 30, RW, Released >>> Nathan Dyer, 31, LW, Released >>> Mike van der Hoorn, 27, CB, Bielefeld (Germany), Free >>> Joel Asoro, 21, CF, Genoa, Loan >>> Josh Gould, 23, GK, Barry Town, Loan >>> Barrie McKay, 25, LW, Fleetwood, Loan

Stand out players and weak links in the team?

Steve: Andre Ayew is the real standout I would say, but full back Connor Roberts is in the form of his career while Ryan Bennett and Marc Guehi have been superb at the back. I can’t really single anyone out as a weakness at the moment, unless Viktor Gyokeres comes off the bench.

Phil: We don't have weak links as so although some players will come in for additional criticism. Andre Ayew is always a danger but our full backs play really well at the moment and will cause you some issues when they attack.

How do you think you'll do this season? Promotion push realistic?

Steve: Play-Offs is realistic, I think relegated sides have a big advantage this season as they’ve not lost as many players as normal and the schedule is so hectic that it’s bound to favour them.

Phil: As we approach the halfway mark you have to say that we are definite promotion candidates although I can see Norwich breaking away this season so it’s more a case of if we can keep pace with the likes of Bournemouth and Watford or it is the lottery of the play offs again. This is where Steve Cooper deserves the credit as I think we do punch above our weight.

Links >>> Official Website >>> Planet Swans – Blog and Forum >>> Swansea Independent - Forum >>> Wales Online – Local Paper >>> The Jack Army – Forum >>> SOS - Fanzine

The Twitter @loftforwords, @StevenSOS1987, @swansnews

Pictures – Action Images

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francisbowles added 10:12 - Dec 26
Thanks and season's greetings to Steven, Phil and Clive. Sad to see Nathan Dyer was released. He had been with you for many years and was a tricky little customer.

A bit of research indicates he is without a club but still seems to be training with the Swans.

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