Recently flicking through the new FourFourTwo Season Preview magazine, I noticed they predict Swansea will finish in 20th. That's right, propping up the table. A 'Wolves' if you will. On the first read I was a little surprised, considering how well Swansea did last season.
However, the relegation predictions don't end with FourFourTwo. The American sports site, Bleacher Report feature Swansea in their 'Five favourites to be relegated this season' article, while The Independent suggest the Swans may 'struggle to keep up' in their preview.
They key reasons behind the relegation predictions become obvious when you read on. Issues like the fact that the Premier League is all new to Michael Laudrup, a manager who hadn't been successful with all his previous teams. Also if Laudrup plans to stick to the same attractive, passing football (which he does), he won't have the element of surprise that Brendan Rodgers had last season - the rest of the league may have the Swans all figured out. This is worrying with no definite 'plan B'.
The other issues addressed in these articles focus on the players. If Sinclair leaves the club (which seems 50/50 at the moment), the Swans will have lost three of their five top scorers last season in this transfer window: Sinclair (8), Sigurdsson (7), Allen (4). This means Swansea may well be lacking the fire-power FourFourTwo warn about.
Personally I don't feel the Swans have that much to worry about. Not as much as the media make out anyway. However, points will be needed from the very start; there won't be as much room for trial and error this season.
Away form must be sorted out too, and points have to be ripped away from the new arrivals in the league as well as potential relegation rivals. This season, it should be these vital games that draw the crowds, not the Man Uniteds, Chelseas and Liverpools of the league (okay, maybe not the Liverpool one - that is a must win game!).
Swansea supporters, myself included, are more optimistic than the media, but with understandable caution. Last season we predicted a realistic finish of 16th or so in the untested waters of the Premier League, but thankfully our caution wasn't needed with the superb 11th finish. This season, we all seem to be predicting around the same (15th seems to be the magic number), with as much caution I guess.
Though praise from national media last season was nice, I'm sure we'll all admit that being the underdog is an equally enjoyable way to approach some games, so this assumption that Swansea will do poorly shouldn't get us down. We all enjoyed saying 'told you so' last season, and it'll be nice to do it again the second time around (especially to Brendan Rodgers).