Swans go round again - Interview
Monday, 19th Apr 2021 19:49 by Clive Whittingham
Steven Carroll from the SOS fanzine and Phil Sumbler from Planet Swans reflect on a Swansea season destined to end in another play-off tilt, but without the form to give much confidence it’ll go any better than last year's.
How would you assess Swansea's season so far?
SC: It’s been good on the whole, we weren’t expecting promotion so to be up there at this stage of the season, more or less guaranteed a play-off spot and with an outside chance of top 2 would have to be seen as overachieving.
PS: One that keeps promising so much but ultimately seems to let us down just as we start to believe again. Ultimately we are third in the table so we shouldn’t complain too much but we have never – other than maybe a short period around Christmas – looked anything like the quality of Norwich or Watford.
Swansea league results so far…
Little wobble recently, what caused that and is it over now with the two wins this week?
SC: The wobble had been coming to be honest, we don’t create enough chances. Our success has been built on clean sheets, our levels have dropped recently so it’s no shock that we’ve struggled to win games. I didn’t watch our game on Saturday as I was at a wedding, but those I’ve spoken to weren’t impressed. And drawing at home to the bottom side who are all but down is a poor result to say the least.
PS: We seemed to run out of steam, confidence and ideas all at the same time. The formation that served us so well for 12 months let us down and we seemed to not have a plan B to rely on at any time. The two away wins I thought had seen us turn the corner but Saturday against Wycombe was another step backwards.
General consensus on how Steve Cooper's done for you guys?
SC: Cooper has done well with limited resources, and as I said we are definitely overachieving. Although I must admit we are not easy on the eye and it’s debatable how sustainable this is long term. We’ve been the masters of scoring from our first proper chance and it against the run of play (the game at a Loftus Road being a good example) and in general once we go in front we usually see if out.
PS: Talk about splitting opinion amongst a fanbase. Some will say that he is doing a fantastic job with no backing from the owners whilst others think he is the devil reincarnated. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, he seems incredibly reluctant to change things when they aren’t working and certainly has some players in his team he will not rest even though they blatantly need it. Two play-off campaigns in two years says a reasonable picture about his time here but we aren’t good on the eye.
I've seen some criticism of the January transfer business, lost Gibbs-White obviously and didn't strengthen enough when in contention for the autos, is that justified?
SC: We did strengthen but with hindsight our business probably wasn’t the best. Conor Hourihane has done well in patches but doesn’t dominate games, he’s a player who has his moments rather than anything else. The other five signings haven’t really played. It’s debatable who sanctioned them, especially the American players I would say. Losing Gibbs-White was a big blow, he only played six times for us due to injury but I think his creativity would’ve made a huge difference.
PS: The thing was we did strengthen. We made several signings (Morris, Arriola, Whittaker and Hourihane as well as a very odd signing from Swindon in Freeman). Problem was Morris went back injured as did Arriola, Hourihane just hasn’t done what we all hoped and Whittaker impresses but doesn’t get the game time. In January most Swans fans would have called this a good window, in April it looks anything but.
Summer 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
Summer 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 >>> Brandon Cooper, 21, CB, Newport, Loan
Winter Ins >>> Morgan Whittaker, 20, CF, Derby, £700k >>> Ben Hamer, 33, GK, Huddersfield, Undisclosed >>> Kieron Freeman, 29, RB, Swindon, Undsiclosed >>> Conor Hourihane, 29, CM, Villa, Loan >>> Jordan Morris, 26, AM, Seattle, Loan >>> Paul Arriola, 26, CM, DC United, Loan
Winter Outs >>> Joel Asoro, 21, CF, Djurgarden (Sweden), £630k >>> Declan John 25, LB, Bolton, Loan >>> George Byers, 25, CM, Portsmouth, Loan >>> Jordan Garrick, 22, RW, Swindon, Loan
Player of the season candidates?
SC: The two for me are Marc Guehi and Connor Roberts. The former has grown from a boy into a man firing his time here, he’s going to be a top player for someone. Roberts meanwhile is everywhere, no one covers as much ground as him.
PS: Connor Roberts. There isn’t a doubt.
Weak links in the side?
SC: Freddie Woodman our keeper has become a bit weak, he’s cost us a few goals recently, he was at fault or the second goal on Saturday. I would’ve said Jamal Lowe but now he’s broken his goal duck he’s hopefully a new man.
PS: Conor Hourihane is not so much a weak link but can be a passenger despite his goals and assists but for me the weak link is a midfield that looks static and slow at the best of times.
Thoughts on Ryan Manning's first year with you?
SC: Manning has been a bit unlucky, he offers more than Jake Bidwell in my view but because he started the season well it’s taken him a while to get into the side. Long term I think he’ll be first choice.
PS: My mother always taught me if I couldn’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all.
Do you think you'll see promotion through?
SC: I don’t think we will, don’t see us scoring enough goals and now our defence doesn’t keep as many clean sheets as it was so I’m expecting us to fall short.
The Twitter @loftforwords, @StevenSOS1987, @swansnews
Pictures – Action Images
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