Swansea City: 2015-16 season preview
Swansea finished last season in their record high Premier League position, but will they face a second season jinx under Garry Monk?
Last season was a fantastic campaign for Monk and co. with a record high finish and points tally in the newly-branded Premier League as the Swans finished 8th place with 56 points. With Monk gaining a considerable amount of plaudits for his work, too. But how can we match it, or if not, better it this season?
With the sale of Wilfried Bony to Manchester City in January of last year there were a lot of eyebrows raised whether or not Bafetimbi Gomis was good enough to step into Wilf’s boots, and with uncertainty about Gomis’ future looming whether the Swans were to have one striker to fire until the end of the season, which would’ve been on-loan Nelson Oliveria.
As it happens, Bafe stayed and was actually quite impressive with some performances, such as a last-minute winner against Arsenal, and with the addition of Eder this season, the ‘dreaded’ duo could have what it takes to fire Swansea higher into the dizzy heights of European qualification.
I feel that we need one more striker just to be certain we are going to get a 15 goal a season striker at the club. Eder’s record at previous clubs isn’t exactly flattering with 12 goals in 83 appearances for Academia between 2008 and 2012, but at Braga he averaged just under a goal a game with 26 from 60. I just don’t understand why we didn’t fork out the extra £8 million it’d have cost to bring Charlie Austin to the club, a player who I rate highly.
Goals are what I’m fearful of this season and whether or not they will dry up. With the appointment of James Beattie, a quality Premier League striker in his day, could help the likes of Eder and Gomis to fire in that one or two extra. Obviously, we have a certain Andre Ayew who will inevitably add a couple, along with Sigurdsson, Shelvey and new signing Tabanou who should all chip in. But, will it be enough contribution to really cement an expected top 10 finish this season.
Our midfield is pretty much sorted with a lot of strength in depth about it. In the centre of the park we have considerable talent and out wide we do, too. This season I feel our asset will be overlapping wing play between the full-back and winger and I cannot wait to see Tabanou and Montero linking up together.
In Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Deportivo La Coruna, both Montero and Tabanou came on at half-time and lit the game up. It was a dull, but fiery, friendly but I hope there’s more to come from those two linking up together. And needless to even mention the other wing where Andre Ayew was deployed.
Strength in depth at the back
Defensively we have a lot in strength in depth, too. I’ve mentioned Tabanou who I think could be a fantastic acquisition from our point-of-view and could be Swansea’s signing of the summer. Obviously, despite interest from Crystal Palace, Ashley Williams will be a Swansea City player come September 1st and I’m confident that Fede Fernandez will be staying with the Swans as well.
And, with that, we should have a strong looking back four ready for the first game of the season vs Chelsea. Naughton will be back from an injury he sustained at the end of last season and he could be the answer we’ve been looking for at right-back for a couple of years. Angel Rangel is a club legend in my eyes but the sentiment of playing him every game now needs to wear off as he is long past his best and to progress I don’t feel he should be our first choice right-back.
I don’t think any youngsters will break through this season apart from Matty Grimes, the England U20 captain. Swansea’s academy has been granted category 1 status now so our under-21’s will be facing some very decent teams, so apart from the spectacular youngsters there will be no need to bring them into the first-team if they are not ready.
But, I believe Matt Grimes will be, as he has shown throughout pre-season what he can do. Kenji Gorre has gone out on loan to sister club ADO Den Haag, and could be a name for the future, but not this season. The only name to watch out for is, as I reiterate, Matt Grimes.
Swansea’s transfer business
Compared to all the clubs who are usually behind us in the league table I don’t feel we’ve had the best summer transfer-wise and that is what is worrying me for the season ahead. I thought it was going to be nailed on that we will stay up a couple of weeks ago but even the newly promoted sides and teams that usually finish behind us in the division are having fantastic summers.
For example, Bournemouth with Gradel, Newcastle with, in my opinion the signing of the season, Wijnaldum, Sunderland with Lens, Leicester with Okazaki and the list goes on. These clubs were nailed-on to be in a relegation battle earlier in the summer but now with signings like I’ve mentioned every single team has a chance of staying up – no one is safe, no one is gone.
Overall, I don’t feel we could actually be relegated and with one more forward I think we’ll be nailed on mid-table, or if Bafetimbi Gomis can prove me wrong for a second time I believe we will be very comfortably mid-table. And this season I’d also like to see a cup-run as the last couple of games of the season are too dull when you’re are safely in mid-table. My hope is that we can finish 6th, but realistically I think the Swans will finish 11th with Bafetimbi Gomis as our leading goal-scorer. But, who knows?