Bony sale best for business but Blues beating a sign of Swans struggle
Garry Monk ducked the question of absent players, namely Wilfried Bony, when picking through the wreckage of Swansea City’s 5-0 home demolition by Premier League leaders Chelsea.
One bad result, or a sure fire sign of a slump has started following the sale of the Swans’ star striker? It’s easy to wax lyrical about Jose Mourinho’s men and simultaneously do some doom-mongering about the Liberty Stadium side, now 16/1 with Coral to crash the top six.
What will disturb Monk most, though, is something more than the nature of this defeat. Every side, even Swansea, who this time a dozen years ago propped up the Football League, have dark days like this, but the damning statistic of no shots on target is a worry.
Every player has his price, however, and the Swans have made a rough profit of two-and-a-half times what they paid for Ivory Coast international Bony, but he is merely the latest performer to leave the Liberty.
Joe Allen, Scott Sinclair, Ben Davies, Jonathan de Guzman, Michel Vorm and Michu are just some of the other star turns that have been lost. What is striking about this list is it’s hard to say any of them have been better for it.
Nonetheless, Bony has thrown his lot in with the Etihad outfit where expectation is far greater, and his career there, once he returns from the Africa Cup of Nations, will be watched with interest. An ensemble cast of Marvin Emnes, Bafetimbi Gomis and new loan signing Nelson Oliveira showed no signs of stepping up to fill the void against Chelsea, however.
This poses a problem for Swansea manager Monk. There is money in the bank, but his coaching career is still in its infancy (he will complete a year in charge at the Liberty come February) and he may find it difficult to lure players capable of replacing Bony.
Predecessor Michael Laudrup may have had a fly by night managerial reputation, and so it proved, but the great Dane has a huge standing in the game. That is why he and Mark Hughes were/are able to lure bigger names to provincial clubs like the Swans and Stoke City.
Few names have been mentioned in dispatches, and no direct alternatives of Bony’s calibre are among them. The tabloid rumour mill suggested a £5m swoop for Stuttgart and Romania creator Alexandru Iulian Maxim prior to Chelsea’s five-star display, but he is more of the same in terms of Swansea’s support for a striker from advanced midfield areas.
Perhaps for the first time in their Premier League lives, we’re left to wonder where goals are going to come from at the Liberty? Gylfi Sigurdsson will always chip in, but the Iceland international was already Bony’s chief supplier and to burden him further with a scoring onus would be unfair.
Gomis has one Premier League goal to his credit, and is yet to net on this front when starting. Monk previously talked of the Swans needing to adjust to his style of play, but that appears to be a departure from previous thinking.
Recruitment in south Wales, under canny chairman Huw Jenkins, has always had an emphasis on players to fit within the progressive 4-2-3-1 formation. With wingers like Wayne Routledge, Jefferson Montero and Nathan Dyer in their squad, Swansea should not be struggling to feed Gomis.
As a target to aim for up front, the former France international is capable of holding onto the ball and bringing others into play. This is yet to happen effectively, however, hence a paucity in assists. Gomis simply does not appear to be on the same wavelength as those looking to find him, or teammates he can set up.
With Bony gone, his old forward colleagues failing to step up and a lack of alternative options out there in the window window, solving this is the biggest challenge of Monk’s managerial career to date. There’s no need to panic too much just yet, though; as the Swans are 80/1 outsiders to be relegated and still odds-on at 8/11 to finish in the top half.