In light of Manchester United’s visit to Swansea City this weekend, The Glorious United’s @stiuge (who is well worth following on twitter) sat down with Swansea City fan and blogger @SwansBlog to talk about the Swan’s start of the season as well as the match at the weekend.
First question: You are the first Welsh team to reach the ‘promised land’ of the Premier League, how much stick have you been giving to Cardiff City supporters after winning promotion?
As soon as that final whistle went at Wembley in May I don’t think there was a Swans fan who didn’t want to rub it in their face and probably did. I know I did, my dad is a Cardiff City season ticket holder and he didn’t speak to me for a week. But I do think that has died down a bit now.
Over the past couple of seasons I have noticed a switch in attitude amongst Swans fans. Instead of focusing on hating Cardiff we are letting people know what Swansea City are about. What the club has achieved over the past 8 years on and off the pitch is something to be really proud of.
With the praise we have received for the way the club is run coupled with the recognition for the way we play our football and promotion to the Premier League, that should be enough to wind up any Cardiff City supporter for a while.
How have Swansea done in the transfer market this summer? In my opinion signing Michel Vorm must be one of the best coups of the summer?
I think you are spot on, there must be a lot of bigger clubs kicking themselves because at £1.5m he is probably the bargain of the season. After we clinched promotion we lost a couple of key players. Dorus De Vries was one of those and everyone was devastated because he was such a vital part of the team and the way we play.
It’s now safe to say it has proved to be a blessing in disguise, from the moment Michel Vorm arrived he has taken on board what Brendan Rodgers demands from his goalkeepers and put in plenty of eye catching performances.
Swansea have surprised many of us this season, by climbing to 10th in the table, are you surprised by that as well?
Yes and no.
Standing 10th with just over a quarter of the season gone is fantastic and I do have to pinch myself at times because it has been a fantastic start to life in the Premier League. However, our performances and the way we have stuck to our philosophy is less of a surprise.
As most people are probably now well aware we like to pass the ball, a lot, and I think this style is better suited to the Premier League. Yes we will probably struggle against the more powerful teams like Man City & Chelsea but I think over the entire season it will be sticking to what we know that will keep us up.
You have signed some new players after securing promotion, which players you see making the biggest impact?
11 games into the season I think it’s safe to say Michel Vorm is going to be a huge player for us this season. Steven Caulker (on loan from Spurs) is also another player who can have a big impact this season, his presence defending set pieces will be vital as that is one of the weaker aspects to our game.
Danny Graham is another who could have a big say in where we finish this season. He took a few games to find his feet but has been superb over the past 6 weeks, netting 4 goals in 9 starts. He even scored the only goal we’ve conceded at home.
Brendan Rogers has been a pivotal figure for Swansea, having won over 50% matches in charge since taking over. What are his strengths and weaknesses?
He has been phenomenal for us since he came in, I doubt even he can believe how well everything has fallen into place. First of all you have to take your hat off to him for continuing with the playing philosophy the club has adopted, first with Roberto Martinez then Paulo Sousa.
His biggest challenge was then finding the right balance between attack and defence, something his predecessors couldn’t. He seemed to solve this problem from the moment he stepped through the door and we haven’t looked back since. He also believes in his players and the way we play our football, and he makes sure he says so publicly.
This confidence, perhaps even slight arrogance has rubbed off on the entire squad and has instilled a belief that we shouldn’t fear anyone. I think his only weakness has been not being able to find a way to get results away from home more consistently. Once we figure that out, then on our day we’ll be a match for any team in the division.
Who do you think will be your most important player this season?
Despite all the new signings that were mentioned earlier I have a feeling Nathan Dyer will be our most important player this season. He was the fans player of the year last season despite Scott Sinclair finishing top scorer from the opposite wing. His pace and quick feet are good enough to worry any defender in the Premier League and he’s a very important outlet for us. His work-rate is also outstanding and he isnt afraid to put a shift in on our side of the half way line.
I know you asked for one player but I think Joe Allen is another who deserves a mention. He struggled to get into the starting 11 at the beginning of the season but since filling in for the injured Stephen Dobbie in a more advanced midfield role he has made that position his own. All Swans fans were aware of his technical ability but he has also managed to get on the score-sheet a couple of times this season and could well be a player who makes the move to a top 4 side in a few years time.
If you could pick any two players from the current United side to include in the Swansea side, who would you pick and why?
My first choice would have to be a fully fit Nemanja Vidic, what is there not to like about him? In my opinion the Premier Leagues best central defender for the past 4 seasons. His physicality and no nonsense approach would be the perfect match to play alongside Ashley Williams at the heart of our defence.
Rooney would be the other obvious choice but I’m going to say Javier Hernandez. I think he is a class act, technically he is very good and he has that natural ability to be in the right place at the right time in the penalty box. He would suit our system perfectly.
Typical choices, at least you went with Chicharito instead of Rooney! Where do you think you will finish this season?
I’m confident that we can avoid relegation, as for predicting an actual league position I’m not that brave. Last season proved to be so close that any number of teams from 20th up to mid table could have been relegated.
Which teams are going to be relegated come May? And which 4 teams will finish in top 4?
I’ll start with who I think will finish in the top four as that’s the easy bit. I’m going for Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Wigan have to be favourites to go down. After that it could be any 2 of around 10 teams, but I’ll stick my neck out and say Sunderland and Norwich will join Wigan in the Championship.
Agree with you on Wigan getting relegated, so what are your predictions for Saturday’s match?
Unfortunately I think United will bring our excellent home record to an end this weekend although it won’t be without the odd scare for you along the way. I’m going to go for 2-1 with United grabbing a late winner.
Thanks to @SwansBlog for the interview and check out his brilliant Swansea FC blog.