Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe Swans Evolve - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The Swans Evolve - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The Swans Evolve


When Swansea lost both manager Brendan Rodgers and Midfielder Joe Allen to the red half of Merseyside over the summer many were predicting that the Swans would face an uphill battle to remain in the Premier League and avoid the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’. The fear was omly increased when Scott Sinclair and the Young Icelander Gylfi Sigurdsson, who had seemingly promised his fair hand to Swansea , were also nabbed by wealthier rivals taking out a large chunk of the South Wales sides attacking force in the process (the two scored 16 goals during last season). The final hole in last season’s surprise package was at centre back with the impressive Steven Caulker following Sigurdsson back to his parent club, Spurs, leaving new boss Michael Laudrup with big boots to fill and substantial gaps to plug. So far it seems to be going rather well.

With the £21 million made from the transfers of Allen and Sinclair Laudrup used his contacts within the Spanish game and the considerable attraction of working under such a star to bring in Michu, Pablo Hernandez, Ki Sung Yueng, Jonathan De Guzman and Chico Flores, all of whom have slotted seamlessly into his starting line-up, as well as promising youngsters Kyle Bartley and Jamie Proctor. As crazy as it sounds selling Allen and Sinclair seems to have propelled Swansea to the next level.

Whilst Joe Allen continues to slow the pace of Liverpool’s attacks, forfeiting any kind of cutting edge in lieu of favourable possession stats, his replacements Ki and De Guzman have added a much more direct aspect to Swansea’s midfield play which began with the 5-0 thumping of QPR on the opening day of the season and has culminated in an impressive 23 goals scored already this season (four more than Rodgers new employers and just one less than Chelsea in 3rd).  Rather than passing  ball aimlessly around the midfield just for the sake of having possession Laudrup has set up his side to shoot from distance and counter fast while still maintaining a dominance of possession (they average 55% for the season) and it leaves them sitting pretty in 7th, just one win away from the champions league places.

A large chunk of the Swans success can be attributed to the league’s top scorer Michu who is already being tipped by many as ‘bargain of the season’  and it seems amazing that Laudrup was able to pick up La Liga’s top scoring midfielder for just £2 million apparently without much competition from larger Premier League sides. How Brendan Rodgers must long for some affordable goalscoring support for Luis Suarez. Michu has shown great aerial prowess as well as clinical finishing -if there was one man on the pitch that you would back to finish off his two chances against Arsenal on Saturday it would be the big Spaniard – and has been rewarded with 11 goals and plenty of plaudits.

A further welcome addition has been the former Valencia winger Pablo Hernandez. Why a bigger team did not snap up Hernandez at a price of just £5.5 million I have no idea. He has been performing at a consistently high standard in La Liga for some time now and has seemingly adapated well to the English game with sparkling performances recently against West Brom and Liverpool in particular. He would certainly have offered Manchestser City better value for money than the £6.2 they gave Swansea for Sinclair and I’m sure most Arsenal fans would prefer to see the Spaniard lining up in the wide forward position ahead of Gervinho.

The Swans did experience a worrying slump in form towards the end of September which saw them lose three consecutive league games however Laudrup swiftly arrested the slide by dropping the underperforming Danny Graham and pushing Michu into a more advanced position, a switch which has paid dividends and yielded a six game unbeaten run featuring impressive victories against Newcastle, West Brom and Arsenal.

Graham’s lack of form and Swansea’s subsequent lack of genuine strikers is an issue that Laudrup must address and the purchase of a centre forward in January is a must. Despite scoring 12 goals last season Graham has rarely looked convincing in the top flight and has been found out somewhat this season with his nine league appearances returning just a solitary goal. Other forward options are equally uninspiring with neither Luke Moore (4 in 52 for the club) or Israeli international Itay Shechter (3 in 23 in last season’s Bundesliga) likely to produce the kind of goal haul that Swansea need if a challenge for the European spots is to be sustained. A new focal point for the attack would also allow Michu to drop back into midfield where his eye for a pass and late runs into the box can be much more effective.

So well done Micahel Laudrup. The summers two most high profile exits have paid for the nucleus of an exciting new side which has developed enough to have realistic ambitions of improving on last season’s 11th place finish. And to Rodgers, Allen and Sinclair; I wonder if the grass is always greener?

Jack Johnson @Jack_Johnson_