Thursday, 28 November 2019

What do Swansea need in January to reignite promotion hopes?

Swansea's recent run of results of two draws and one loss have highlighted just how competitive the second tier of British football is.

And, currently in danger of dropping out of the Championship play-offs, the Swans certainly need some new impetus in the New Year. But, in which positions?

Six time-capped England Under-21s international and loanee star Freddie Woodman is excelling in goal. No wonder then that his parent club Newcastle United did not allow the youngster to permanently leave and tied him to a contract until the end of 2021.

In defence it's another story; the injury to Mike van der Hoorn in Swansea's draw at Huddersfield affected the Swans greatly. And, despite youngster Ben Cabango coming in for some high praise on his first league appearance, the injury opened up a can of worms.

Joe Rodon has already been sidelined for months with an ankle injury and van der Hoorn's sidelining has highlighted the defensive frailties within the squad. Cabango has stepped in admirably, but being thrust into the limelight in a pivotal part of the season as the Christmas period approaches, is probably not what boss Steve Cooper had in mind.

Swansea have no issues on the right or left side of defence wiith Kyle Naughton and Connor Roberts rotating marvelously on the right and Jake Bidwell and Declan John performing admirably on the left.

Last year, the absence of Leroy Fer meant that Swansea lacked that engine-type player, the one that thrives playing in the gruelling Championship. And, since his transfer to Feyenoord, the Welsh club are perhaps missing the "hard man" in midfield.

One thing is certain, though, Cooper is blessed with wingers and strikers. Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge, Kristoffer Peterson, Jordon Garrick, Bersant Celina and even Andre Ayew have all tinkered in the wide positions in 2019. Plus, Celina, Yan Dhanda, George Byers and Aldo Kalulu have excelled in the "playmaker" role.

Ayew and Borja Baston have been superb up front too; the duo have been involved in 17 goals in the Championship so far with back-up Sam Surridge scoring five himself. Whilst Swansea have been linked with other forwards, it would not be a disaster if Cooper continued with the same frontmen.

So, the goalkeeper issue seems to have been sorted and with widemen and forwards in abundance, Swansea have a tremendous basis from which to mount their Premier League charge. A defender and midfielder are perhaps, however, imperative if the Swans want to reach the top tier, two seasons after falling into the Championship.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Swansea set for six-way battle for Australian ace

With the January transfer window rapidly approaching, clubs are on the hunt for new recruits that can steer them towards promotion or survival. Luckily for Swansea, the Welsh side are in the first bracket and they have set their sights towards Livingston striker Lyndon Dykes.

Who is he? Well, Lyndon Dykes is an Australian-born forward. His footballing career has so far taken him to Scotland to Australia and back again with the powerful forward finally settling at the Scottish Championship club Queen of the South in 2016 where he netted ten times in 86 league appearances and nine times in 31 cup appearances.


His form precipitated a move to Scottish Premiership club Livingston in January 2019 - an agreement in which Dykes would be loaned back to the Dumfries club to end the 2018-19 season at Palmerston Park, scoring a further three goals in 15 appearances.


Since moving to Livingston, the striker has netted five times and registered two assists in 14 appearances, including one in the West Lothian's side's famous victory over Celtic in October. Despite the attention of many English and Welsh clubs, Dykes signed a new contract with Livingston in September until the end of the 2022 season.


But, in football, contracts can often mean little and Dykes is now subject to a huge amount of rumour surrounding his future. And, it's claimed that Livingston may choose to cash in in January when the transfer window re-opens.


South Wales seems to be on red alert as Swansea's main rivals Cardiff also appear to be monitoring the 24-year-old. But these two are not alone either as six Championship clubs are believed to be keen on making a move, with Middlesbrough, Bristol City, Derby and Blackburn among Dykes' suitors.


Though able to play in a number of positions in the final third, mainly as the main striker, he has also operated on either wing and in the no.10 role.


Image result for lyndon dykes"
Dykes sporting silver hair
Yet, it's his disciplinary record that may deter some clubs. He has already accumulated five yellow cards this term, and was sent of in Livingston’s 3-1 defeat to Rangers in September.

It's not yet clear just how much cash it would take to prise the striker from Scotland to join a club in England or Wales, but for the time being, he is certainly one to look out for ahead of January with Swansea said to be keen on a player that throws up memories of an 'old school no.9'. 


Standing at 6ft 2ins and with the physique that rugby players would be proud of, the Australian powerhouse possesses fearsome aerial strength and hold up play that allows him to bully his opponents. He would surely fit in in the second tier of English football, it just remains to be seen who wants him the most.


Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Daniel James transfer to Leeds United "not right" according to Huw Jenkins

It was one of the biggest transfer sagas in not only Swansea's recent history, but the whole of the 2019 January transfer market.

Daniel James came close to joining Leeds
James pictured with a Leeds United shirt before his transfer fell through at the 11th hour.

















But, despite having completed a medical at Leeds United ahead of a loan move until the end of the 2018/19 campaign - which would have been made permanent had Leeds gained promotion - Daniel James and Leeds were left high and dry by Swans chairman Huw Jenkins.

Jenkins - who left his job as Swansea chairman just two days after the transfer following 17 years at the club - appeared willing to sign the deal off until the last minute, ignoring phone calls from an increasingly frustrated Elland Road office.

It was after 2pm when the call came granting James permission to start a medical at Leeds United on deadline-day and make good his transfer from Swansea City. In fact, the winger arrived in Yorkshire as early as possible, having driven all the way from Wales to sign on the dotted line.

The 22-year-old winger was identified as a winger that could help propel Leeds back into the Premier League after a 15-year absence. And, in the Leeds United documentary Take Us Home - which shows United's 2018/19 campaign under Marcelo Bielsa - James was actually pictured holding up a Leeds shirt with both the player and club believing the transfer was all-but completed.

United had attempted to get their man in the days before, but Swansea's board had remained resilient. What began as a £5m up-front offer from United became a loan to the end of this season with a commitment from Leeds to sign James for a fee in excess of £5m if they won promotion from the Championship.

In fact, a loan fee was necessary to bring negotiations to a close. Having agreed to it, Leeds finally felt their man would come through the door.

James passed a medical in good time at Thorp Arch - Leeds' training complex - and was driven to Elland Road around 6pm on deadline-day to complete the paperwork and go through the process of media interviews and photographs.

But Leeds were met with silence with two hours to go until the deadline. Complicating proceedings, Swansea's relegation had already seen the loss of players, but with the likes of Wilfried Bony, Jefferson Montero and Leroy Fer seemingly set for the exit on deadline day, Jenkins pulled the plug on James' departure, fearing mutiny from the Swansea faithful.

And, he has now explained why.

“I communicated with everybody at Leeds on the phone, back and forth, and I am sure they put Dan on to me as well.

“They were all trying to convince us to do the deal but I just felt from a club’s point of view, based on value and based on Graham’s (Potter) success, it wasn’t right.

"I thought, second half of the season, as it proved, he’d have a big impact for the club. Dan was just coming into his own.

"I did give Dan my views. He had no guarantee of going straight into the Leeds team, and the uncertainty over whether they would buy him or not is not a good thing for a young player. Take all that into account and there was only one decision to be made. Thankfully, it worked out well for the football club and for Dan.”

James returned to Swansea unhappy, but continued to ply his trade in Wales before Manchester United came in for him in the summer, paying £15m, rising to £18m with add-ons applied.

That, of course, benefitted Swansea to a much greater extent than letting James leave for one of their promotion rivals for a third of that price.

And, with pace to burn and a willingness to attack, James has already enamoured himself to the Old Trafford faithful.



The curious case of Barrie McKay

Barrie McKay - the seemingly forgotten man at Swansea.

The Scottish international was one of former boss Graham Potter's six summer signings in 2018 and went on to feature in 31 of the Swans' games last season. But, under new head coach Steve Cooper, McKay has made just three appearances and all of these have been in the Carabao Cup. Even then, the winger has appeared for only a combined 120 minutes.

So, what's happened to the former Rangers flyer?

The 24-year-old hasn't been included in a match-day squad since the 2-1 defeat to Watford in the Carabao Cup back in September while his only appearance in an 18-man Championship squad was when he was an unused substitute for the opening day win against Hull City.

Even though the Scot performed decently under Potter - including a superb goal away at Bolton as well as a number of important assists - McKay is far from a loved footballer at the Liberty Stadium with Cooper at the helm.

Though regularly played out of position at Swansea with Bersant Celina favoured in the No.10 role, McKay has come in for stick from a swathe of the Swansea faithful.

The former Nottingham Forest winger should have been well on his way to staking a claim for a wing position with the departures of Daniel James, Luciano Narsingh and Jefferson Montero in the summer, but, he has instead become even more of a peripheral figure at the Liberty Stadium as the Swans hit promotion form in the first part of the 2019/20 campaign.

McKay has seen his route to the first team blocked by the return of Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer to the side, both of whom have been impressive in recent weeks whilst the previously outcast Andre Ayew and Celina have been found operating in wide roles also.

Image result for wayne routledge and nathan dyer"
Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge have performed well for Swansea.


In fact, McKay has found himself even further down the pecking order with the likes of Aldo Kalulu and Kristoffer Peterson getting more game time as the season progresses. And, even when Celina has played out on the left, George Byers and Yan Dhanda have been preferred to McKay in the central role behind the lone striker.

With options appearing increasingly limited at the Liberty Stadium, the Scot cuts an ever-depressing figure. Though contracted until summer 2021, McKay is surely likely to leave if he doesn't get a chance, especially when considering he has even been relegated to the Under-23s of late.

It's sad to see the decline of a talented footballer, but sometimes players just don't fit at certain clubs. McKay's quandary seems exactly that.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Former boss Paulo Sousa believes he was the one that harnessed the Premier League dream

In a bizarre turn of events, former Swansea head coach Paulo Sousa has hit out at the club's "very poor" facilities and claims he was the man that made Brendan Rodgers' Premier League achievement possible.

The Portuguese head coach - who is now in charge of French Ligue 1 side Bordeaux - guided the Swans to within a whisker of the play-offs during the 2009-10 Championship season, but the Welsh dream collapsed on the final day as a draw against Doncaster Rovers meant that Blackpool leapfrogged Swansea into the final play-off spot in sixth.



Sousa had initially travelled to UK shores in 2008 to become QPR boss after a stint as assistant coach of the Portuguese national side, but a less-than ceremonious end to his stint in White City and Roberto Martinez' departure to Wigan opened the door for Sousa to join the Welsh club.

Sousa departed Swansea in July 2010 to take up the vacant managerial position at Leicester City, but won just one game from nine in charge and was sacked nearly three months later.

Whilst Sousa's England career nosedived, Swansea reached the promised-land of the Premier League the year after under Brendan Rodgers. A seven-year stay in the top tier followed with the club currently rebuilding for another charge.

But, despite Sousa failing at the final hurdle in his only year in charge at the Liberty Stadium, the Portuguese has insisted he was the one that changed things for the better.



"Huw Jenkins realised that my type of football and my knowledge of the English league during the months I was at QPR were enough to be the right coach to continue the ideas he had in mind to reach the best results with Swansea." Sousa stated.

"And they were the best results, at the time, of the last 27 years. We were one point away from the play-offs, and then, with a little more investment and the improvement of all the game processes, it ended up happening with Brendan Rodgers."

Though Swansea's rise to the Premier League bankrolled the ability to create a new state-of-the art facility at Fairwood as well as the club's now-lauded youth system, that hasn't always been the case and Sousa was quick to point that out.

"Swansea’s facilities were very poor at the time. We had a training ground that, when it rained — and it rains almost every day there — would get flooded and we would go to an indoor of maybe 40 by 60 metres, with synthetic grass from the first generations."

Whether or not Sousa's comments are well-founded, Swansea were a fourth-tier side in danger of relegation to the Conference six years before the Portuguese took over. That kind of history must have been known before Sousa took the job. Perhaps it's just bitterness that Rodgers completed what Sousa could not.

Swansea in the race for Liverpool starlet Rhian Brewster

Reports suggest that Swansea City are among a number of clubs tracking Liverpool ace Rhian Brewster.

A possible loan signing is on the cards, but the Swans are facing competition from Crystal Palace, Bristol City and clubs in Germany.

Image result for rhian brewster signs new contract

The 19-year-old burst onto the scene at the Under-17s World Cup in 2017, scoring eight times to be crowned the competition's top-scorer as England took home the title in impressive fashion.

Though other clubs are reportedly interested in Dagenham-born Brewster, Swansea's links with Liverpool may well tip the balance in the Welsh club's favour.

Head coach Steve Cooper - a former Liverpool Academy Coach - steered England to Under-17 World Cup success with Brewster performing superbly under his guidance.

Image result for rhian brewster england world cup

Assistant Mike Marsh also has links to Merseyside having won the FA Cup in a playing period of six years at Anfield.

Highly-rated at Anfield, Brewster signed a five-year contract with the Reds in July 2018, despite being injured with an ankle ligament injury, and made his senior debut in their 2-0 Carabao Cup victory over MK Dons in September.

A full 90 minutes in Liverpool's classic 5-5 draw and penalty success against Arsenal highlighted the faith boss Jurgen Klopp has in the youngster, despite the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah in front of him.

 But, in regular league games, as Klopp attempts to steer Liverpool to their 19th English title, Brewster has found opportunities hard to come by which isn't exactly surprising considering the triumvirate mentioned above.

For boss Cooper, Brewster would add a goalscoring threat, with the club having sold Oli McBurnie to Sheffield United in the summer. Sam Surridge has come in on a season-long loan, scoring five goals in the season so far, but Brewster would add another dimension and experience of being in a Champions League-winning environment.

Image result for sam surridge swansea

Cooper also has Andre Ayew and Borja Baston to call on up-front and the pair have 11 goals between them in the Championship, so Cooper is not exactly desperate for another forward. And, Liverpool would surely ensure that Brewster heads for a club that will guarantee the youngster game time, something which, with three goalscoring forwards, may not be assured at Swansea.

Whether or not Cooper can ensure this remains to be seen, but who wouldn't want a breakthrough youngster from one of the top footballing sides in the world? If it can be done, the Swans could well cement their place in the play-off places at the right-end of the Championship table.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

James’s transfer to Manchester United completes remarkable rise

After a below- par season for the Red Devils, which saw manager Jose Mourinho controversially sacked after a 3-1 defeat to bitter rivals Liverpool at Anfield, club legend, and scorer in that famous Champions League final in the Nou Camp in 1999, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, took the reigns as caretaker manager and form drastically improved.



After an impressive comeback at the Parc des Princes in the Champions League, his appointment was made permanent but since then United’s form has dipped drastically and they slumped to an underwhelming sixth place finish last season following some pretty uninspiring performances; condemning themselves to a place in the Europa League for the 2019/20 season.

With the rebuilding now underway at Old Trafford as Ole tries to overhaul his squad, the Norwegian has been searching for young, quick and hungry players and it seems like the Swan’s Daniel James is very close to a move to Salford in what some may see as a remarkable rise for the Welsh international.

James has gone from failing to break into the Shrewsbury town squad and having his loan terminated to being destined to play for one the most successful clubs in world football.

The 21-year-old has already suffered disappointment and heartbreak in his short career with a move to Leeds United breaking down six months ago which bought public frustration from James. The attacker has also suffered a major personal loss with the tragic sudden death of his father Kevan James at the age of 60.

Observers from inside the Liberty comment that he is very professional for such a young age and the move to Old Tafford comes after James stared for the Swans last term despite what turned out to be a pretty uninspiring season.

The wideman first garnered national attention following the Swans FA cup run last term; a run that was eventually ended in by eventual winners Manchester City in a controversial game that saw the Swans beaten late on, despite being 2-0 up.

After the game, Man City boss Pep Guardiola, who is regarded as one of greatest managers in the world, heaped praise on the welsh international’s performance after he gave Argentina centre-back Otamendi a run for his money.

James finished the season with final stats of 6 goals and 7 assists in all competitions. 

The transfer fee is rumoured to be around £15 million pounds, plus £3 million in add ons, which can only be positive for the Swans financially, although they are losing a top- quality player who provided so much last campaign.

With World Cup winner Steve Cooper coming to take the reigns at the Liberty, and with Plymouth star Ruben Lameiras rumoured to be coming through the door on a free, the money now needs to be reinvested wisely so the Swans can replace James and rebuild as they attempt to achieve promotion back to England’s top flight at the second attempt next season.

James was also rumoured to be wanted by Monaco, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham so the Swans had a near- impossible job in keeping him in the Championship.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Swans join race for Portuguese ace Lameiras

Since the sale of Gylfi Sigurðsson to Everton in August 2017, for a club record fee of £40 million, Swansea have failed to replace the attacking prowess offered by the Iceland international who scored 27 goals in 106 games for the Swans after joining on a permanent transfer. 


The following season the Swans added Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches to the ranks in an attempt to fill the void; a player who starred in Portugal’s shock Euro 2016 win. This move didn’t work out however and the Swans were subsequently relegated to the Championship for the 2018/19 season in which they never really set the world alight, finishing in 10th place. 
With the recent transfer of Daniel James to Manchester United for a fee rumoured to be around £18 million, Swansea are in desperate need of an attacking outlet as they aim to improve on last season’s mid- table finish.
One player strongly rumoured to be heading to Wales is Lameiras, who is out of contract at Plymouth Argyle and is set to leave the Devon club after the Pilgrims suffered a disappointing season- being relegated back to League 2 after promotion in 2016/17.
Lameiras was a fan favourite a Home Park and the Swans are reportedly interested in bringing the tricky winger in on a free transfer to the Liberty, although Ligue 1 club Bordeaux are also said to be interested in the Portuguese wide man.
Lameiras was a rare highlight in a drab season for the Pilgrims, scoring 12 goals and providing nine assists in 45 games in all competitions; he was also named the club’s Player of the Year. His impressive performances in League 1 last season drew attention from many top club scouts so it could be a big coup for the Swans.
Before transferring to Argyle in 2017, Lameiras was a Coventry City player after being released from Spurs. He spent two seasons with the Sky Blues where he enjoyed success-including an EFL Trophy win at Wembley in 2016-17- but he moved to Home Park after Coventry were relegated to the fourth tier in 2017.
Lameiras is a tricky winger who would provide pace and skill going forward and create chances. At 24 years old he has many years still ahead of him to improve and flourish. Lameiras is also a versatile player who has played across the midfield throughout his career. The Lisbon- born forward excels in the number 10 role, with his agility and pace, and could provide a good attacking option for the Swans for the upcoming 2019/20 Championship season.
With Steve Cooper set to be announced as new Swans boss, Lameiras’s quick feet and pace make him an ideal fit for the Swansea style of play the club want to revert to.
However, can the Portuguese adapt to the added pace and quality off the Championship compared to League 1 if he does enter the Liberty as the Swans first summer signing?
Lameiras comes strongly recommended by Tottenham’s long-standing and highly respected academy director John McDermott and he could be developed into a star, as the clips below from his last campaign reveal:



Monday, 10 June 2019

World Cup winner Cooper tipped for Swans job

After a 7 year stay in the Premier League, which even included a Europa League campaign, Swansea were relegated back to the Championship in the 2017/18 season.



Carlos Carvalhal left, and Graham Potter subsequently took the reigns for the 2018/19 Championship season as he looked to fire the Swans straight back to the Premier League. This wasn’t the case as Swansea finished in 10th place- never really challenging for the play-offs. The end of 2018/19 season saw Potter depart after less than a year in charge for the vacant Brighton job after Chris Hughton was sacked, despite keeping the seagulls in the Premier League for a second season running.

Now, Steve Cooper is the surprise favourite to take the Swans job for the upcoming 2019/20 season. Cooper was the manager of the World Cup winning England U17 side in India in 2017 where he was credited with getting the best out off players such as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho who have recently played for the England senior team.

Cooper wants a chance at club management and, having been born in Pontypridd, the Swans job seems like it could prove to be the ideal fit for both parties.

Cooper came from nowhere to become favourite for the job after it seemed like Wales assistant manager Mark Bowen looked likely to take the hotseat owing to the fact that he’s a local lad from Neath, and a Swans fan from young, after watching them in the old Vetch field.

Swansea seemed the ideal job for Bowen and the fans would surely welcome him coming back to manage his boyhood club. He was the bookmaker’s favourite but is now out of the running along with former Sunderland manager Gus Poyet.

Coopers lack of experience and the fact he’s never managed a senior team are reasons why people are surprised he is favourite. However, the fact Cooper has got the best out of young players is said to work in his favour and it is hoped that if he does take the job that he can develop young players, which used to be a key part of what Swansea stand for.

Cooper was also the manager of Liverpool’s academy from 2008 to 2011, managing the likes of now treble- winning Raheem Sterling and Champions League winner Trent Alexander-Arnold. Coopers history with young players is impressive and he now fancy’s his first senior management job. Coopers England youngsters played fast, quick-flowing football in India, the style of football Swansea want to play.

Other candidates for the job include QPR caretaker manager John Eustace, Michael Appleton (who managed Oxford United when they shocked the Swans in the FA Cup 3rd round in 2016 beating them 3-2) is also a candidate. Cameron Toshack, a name infamous in welsh football is also in the running but Steve Cooper is the front runner with the bookmakers; being 1/5 on Paddy Power to take the vacant Swan’s job.