By Matthew Jacob
I think it's safe to say that there was a feeling throughout the summer among the Jack Army that this season always promised to push our club to the limit like never before.
As Michael Laudrup prepared to steer the Swansea City ship into the uncharted waters of the Europa League I admit to a having a strong feeling of trepidation - would the squad be strong enough to battle on four fronts? Will being in Europe take the focus away from the Premier League?
You could argue that we are suffering a similar fate to that of Newcastle United and Stoke City when faced with playing Sunday and Thursday and travelling all over the continent. It was never going to be a breeze for a club like Swansea.
Let's tackle one issue first of all. We're in a relegation battle, no question about it.
The Premier League is a cruel and unforgiving place for a team low on confidence, yet the way this season has taken shape every club from Cardiff in 20th to Aston Villa in 10th is battling to survive, and will be from now until May.
That's how tight it is, where a mere six points separates the bottom club from mid-table 'safety'. And good performances count for nothing. It's all about results now, and Swansea need to start getting them (though I do not believe it should come at the expense of our style, as Alan Hansen suggested a few weeks ago).
|The tactical genius himself.|
Issue two is expectation. Swansea City have had two heartily successful Premier League campaigns and secured the Capital One Cup while capturing the imagination of professional pundits who suggested we would be nothing but relegation fodder following our promotion. Our dip in form since that cup win is well documented and it has left journalists to suggest we're having a tragically poor season and that teams have 'found us out'.
"Found us out!"
That phrase always makes me smile - is it a major shock to teams now that we choose to pass the ball out from the back rather than hoof it forward? We've been doing it since 2007, so to those teams who have found us out, you took your time.
For the record, Southampton are only ten points ahead yet are being heralded as having a great season? They are, and I love the football they play, but three decent results for us and a couple of dodgy results for them would see us much closer. It's a tight league after all. What would the pundits say then?
Finally, the issue of reinforcements and adding to the side.
The squad needs new blood and the fans would welcome the lift. We've been linked with Anthony Pilkington who is a lovely footballer with a bit of grit about him and someone who would certainly add to our group. A centre forward to help Wilfried Bony in Michu's absence would certainly lift the mood (I'm not sure David N'gog would immediately settle nerves, but he does have a point to prove).
Meanwhile the bizarre issue of Ki Seung Yeung has everyone scratching their heads. Laudrup has been forced to utilise Jordi Amat in midfield yet the mercurial Korean is pulling up trees on Wearside! There were calls to get him back. Those calls were ignored, Ki stays with the Black Cats and we move on.
With the squad bare and a difficult run of games to come, we as fans need to get behind the boys more than ever, the time for moaning at not being mid-table is over. We're in a scrap and we need to pull together. Our destiny is still in our hands.
Check back tomorrow morning for Part 2, where Matt will profile the next six games and give his predictions on how many points we can hope for.