Swansea running relegation risk with revolving door
It’s hard to shake off the feeling Swansea City, 5/1 with Coral to be relegated from the Premier League, may be on a downward curve, not least because of the sales of Ben Davies and Michel Vorm to Spurs.
Swans boss Garry Monk, a man of far humbler standing in the game than predecessors Michael Laudrup and Brendan Rodgers, happily worked with club chairman Huw Jenkins to bring in replacements already, however.
Looking at cold hard facts, the south Wales side swooped for out of contract FA Cup-winning goalie Lukasz Fabianski from Arsenal, before subsequently selling the Netherlands’ third-choice stopper at the World Cup. Logically, that’s smart business then.
In that particular case, this money-spinner only tells a fraction of the tale. We gloss over Fabianski’s errors in that Wembley final, which consequentially needed extra time, and some Gunners guile from former Cardiff City star Aaron Ramsey, to be resolved.
Vorm may not have been Louis van Gaal’s number one in Brazil, but he was always selected by Swansea when fully fit. Fabianski, even on a free, looks a gamble because he made just 32 Premier League appearances across seven seasons at Arsenal. He was, to all intents and purposes, Arsene Wenger’s cup keeper at the Emirates.
Young Scot Stephen Kingsley, meanwhile, has been recruited from Falkirk. This somewhat softens the blow of Davies’ departure, but now Neil Taylor seems set to reclaim the left back berth he only lost because of a broken leg. This is due to the fact that Kingsley has never played top-flight football in his own country, so will be totally raw at Premier League level.
The steady stream of Spaniards signing for the Swans seems to have dried up; on the contrary, this Armada are sailing away from south Wales shores. Forward Michu, hailed as the bargain buy of 2012, is now on loan at Napoli, while Alejandro Pozuelo’s stay at the Liberty Stadium lasted one season, as Madrid club Rayo Vallecano brought him back to La Liga.
Fellow attacking midfielder Pablo Hernandez should be set for a payday in the Middle East, so looks next in the Iberian exodus. His paltry goal return suggests he will not be unduly missed by Swansea supporters. Long-serving right back Angel Rangel, midfield destroyer Jose Canas, and centre halves Jordi Amat and Chico Flores are the Spanish quartet left.
Monk has done one thing Rodgers failed to at the Liberty, however; sign Gylfi Sigurdsson permanently. An eye-catching loan spell with the Swans in 2012 during their first-ever Premier League campaign should have seen him snapped up from Hoffenheim. Andre Villas-Boas took him to Tottenham instead.
Should Sigurdsson play off the front again and recapture the sensational form of his first Swansea stint then this will be astute signing, even if it comes two years later than originally intended. Landing Ecuador’s World Cup left winger Jefferson Montero may also help establish Monk, but only if the flashes of brilliance from Brazil come to fruition at club level.
Montero has already endured one failed move to Europe in his career. His time at Villarreal (2010-12), although initially encouraging in the reserves, saw him loaned out to Levante and later Real Betis, where he played alongside Pozuelo, with little end product.
Up front, if Wilfried Bony joins Michu in moving away from the Swans, then the burden will fall firmly on summer signing Bafetimbi Gomis’ shoulders. During the last eight seasons at Lyon and St-Etienne, the France frontman has been more like one in three rather than the ideal average of a goal every other game. Gomis is 80/1 to be Premier League top scorer.
Former Middlesbrough misfit Marvin Emnes, a player who has never been able to decide whether operating out wide or as a striker is his favoured position, can hardly be relied upon even as backup. Should Bony depart, then, Monk may have to blood Northern Irish youngster Rory Donnelly, or find an alternative option to Gomis.
Despite this revolving door at the Liberty, central defence and midfield largely remain constant. It’s all gone quiet on a permanent switch for Dutch international Jonathan de Guzman after two seasons on loan from Villarreal, so box-to-box threat must come from Jonjo Shelvey, especially with England squad places up for grabs.
Club stalwart Leon Britton is one key component of the Swansea spine that Monk has tied down to a new deal. Another is club captain Ashley Williams. South Korea’s versatile midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng, meanwhile, is out of contract next summer and, should he fail to commit his future, he could be sold rather than lost for nothing.
More of the same is needed from wingers Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer. Both can continue to be thorns for Premier League full backs, but Monk’s move for Montero suggests the place of one is under threat. Add in squad players Kyle Bartley, Alan Tate, Dwight Tiendalli and Gerhard Tremmel, and we can see continuity as well as change for the Swans.
Yet, a heavily odds-on price of 1/9 to stay up and 15/8 for a top 10 finish both seem seriously short. Take out Bony, De Guzman and Michu, Swansea’s three leading scorers from last term, and you can see how short of firepower they could be. That 5/1 on Monk’s men not only struggling, but losing their top-flight status, is well worth taking then.