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Swansea City : What needs to happen now ?
Friday, 3rd May 2024 15:01 by Andrew Winfield, Indy lead football writer

The Indy’s lead football writer, Andrew Winfield goes in deep on this weeks issues and the real problems in store for the Swans.

The season winds down on Saturday against Millwall…possibly featuring former Swan Michael Obafemi. It’s been a very disappointing campaign of mostly indifferent football. This wasn’t helped by a change of manager—Michael Duff was sacked in December, and Luke Williams was appointed in January. The team's struggles were evident in late December and January when they faced tough opponents—Southampton (twice), Leicester, Bournemouth (FA Cup), and Leeds—resulting in significant defeats. The team appeared to lack quality and any belief that they could stem the flow against them.

Williams has steadied the ship and now comes to a critical point where, at the season's end, he, Paul Watson, and Andy Coleman are tasked with overhauling the squad to be more competitive for next season. Eight players are imminently out of contract: Liam Cullen, Nathan Wood, Jamie Paterson, Kyle Naughton, Joe Allen, Liam Walsh, Jamal Lowe, and Nathanael Ogbeta. Williams has made it clear that their contracts will be reviewed at the end of the season, emphasising the importance of their performances in the crucial games to pull the team away from relegation and to demonstrate their value to the team.

Of the eight, Cullen and Wood have had the one-year option in their contracts triggered. Of the remaining, contract renewals will depend on several factors, including age, fitness, and what they offer Williams in the team he wants to build. Salary demands will be a crucial bargaining point, especially considering the club's recent financial report for the year to July 2023, which showed a pre-tax loss of £17.9m.

Paterson (32 years old) has had an excellent season, has been a regular starter, and is well-suited to what Williams is looking for from an advanced midfielder/winger. Contract discussions seem likely to hinge on the length of the contract and his salary demands.

Kyle Naughton (35 years) has been the number 2 right back. He covered for Josh Key when he was injured and did an excellent job. Decisions may depend on how the health team assesses Naughton and how the club views Sam Parker as competing or providing backup for Josh Key at right back.

Joe Allen (34 years) has struggled with injuries this season. Like Naughton, contract decisions require health team input and realistic salary demands. What is clear is that when Allen played, he added aggressive harrying qualities, breaking up opposition play, winning back the ball, and distributing this well. If a new contract is not agreed upon, then it’s certain that a player with similar attributes will need to be brought in.

Liam Walsh is a wonderful player to watch when he’s fit. He offers advanced midfielder qualities that no one else has. Contract discussions will focus on fitness and an estimate of the number of games he is likely to play. Input from the health team will, again, be critical.
Ogbeta, one of the forgotten men at Swansea – he has never started a game for the first team – seems destined for the exit and may be an early signing for the Posh if they get through the play-offs from League One.

It's important to acknowledge the contributions of the loan players, especially in the first half of the season. They provided essential cover for injuries and did a commendable job. Carl Rushworth has been exceptional and provides confidence in goal that we’ve not had since Fabianski. Interestingly, the use of the loanees has been more limited under Williams and is, hopefully, a sign that next season, reliance on loans will be considerably lessened from recent seasons.

Jamal Lowe (29 years) has had a good season and has shown a lot of quality. He appears to fit the model of a mobile and skilful winger/striker that Williams is looking for. Salary demands may be a key issue, as Lowe and his agent will be confident that his season’s performance and goals have demonstrated the player's value, with other clubs likely assessing him as an acquisition. Last, Przemyslaw Placheta (26 years old) signed from Norwich until the end of this season. Placheta has performed well and, like Ronald, has added width to the left-hand side while also providing left-back cover in the event of injury to Josh Tymon.

Paul Watson, Luke Williams and Andrew Coleman are the main decision makers this summer - apparently

Resolving the above contractual matters quickly will be essential for the Swans so that they can understand the recruitment needed to cover gaps. This will likely include strikers that fit with Williams’ style and replace the expected outgoings of Jerry Yates and Mykola Kukharevych, the second missing man. It hasn’t worked out for Yates, and Mykola hasn’t been given a chance to prove himself.

Finally, player of the season? For my money, it should have been Josh Tymon, who, after an uncertain start, has grown into the team and gives everything in every game. He had big boots to fill replacing Ryan Manning but has more than done just that. Harry Darling, would be my runner-up, he has developed well in his second championship season and provides the basis for a strong defence when paired with Ben Cabango.

Photography Open Source & Dimitris Legakis

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ncswan added 22:12 - May 3
I agree with you regarding Tymon and Darling, especially Tymon.

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