Date:Saturday September 6 2008
The road to the championship was paved with gold for Swansea City last season but this term it could be a totally different affair.
In the opening salvo's of the new season Roberto Martinez's young side managed to hold their own against Charlton Athletic despite a 2-0 loss that deserved so much more.Fast forward a week later and on the edge of my seat at the Liberty Stadium, Colin Calderwood's Nottingham Forest were beaten in comprehensive fashion with a 3-1 win that even led diminutive midfielder Leon Britton suggesting that a benchmark had been put down by the squad for the rest of the season. Then there was the disappointing 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday that deserved so much more.
Over the next nine months those enacting high standards must be maintained in the second tier of the British game. Looking back on a fantastic performance on Saturday against an injury hit Forest, there were reasons to feel upbeat.Admittedly there are fears about the ability of the squad to keep up the pace set last term but should the Swans continue to produce the form seen over the first two fixtures of the season there is no reason why Swansea should not do well.
What will this season hold will it all end in tears? Will it be a season of consolidation? Or a season of unbridled success? It's not going to be all plain sailing, the club have trimmed down the wage bill offering performance-related deals to players.It is a step that a lot of clubs could learn from, but does this mean Swansea cannot compete with better opposition bankrolled by rich investors? It certainly does not.
For season upon season Inter Milan brought in multi-million pound players as frequently as Graham Poll hands out yellow cards. For years they struggled to find a cohesive squad and failed to win the cherished Lo Scudetto.Whilst poles apart in class and in stature Swansea City have faced the same questions. Former Manager Kenny Jackett spent nearly £1.2 million in transfer fees in order for the club to reach the championship it would be a dream that that the former Watford boss failed to realize.
It would be his predecessor and former charge Roberto Martinez that has shown success can be made with tight purse strings. This season is no different but what will be crucial in the bid to retain championship status next season will be not be the fiscal clout of the club but the ability of the players to perform on the pitch.It is also the combined team ethic that is based upon humble foundations, not filled with million pound stars like some of the big clubs in this division that could prove to be the edge.
Every player on the pitch is working for each other as a one fluid unit and this could prove the difference between success and failure. It is also the depth of the squad that could be another factor in the clubs chances this season.For a number of seasons there has been little competition for places but this season is different. There are almost two or three players competing for the same position.
With so many players in contention for starting spots it will push up standards and ensure that the squad give themselves every chance to impress.While we all must be realistic about the heights that this club can go ambition is critical a mid table finish would be no disgrace but should Swansea do better than that it would provide a solid stepping stone to meeting the clubs real aim to become a premier league club.hat is clear is that this squad under the guidance of one of the best managers outside of the premiership do have enough to avoid relegation.
Date:Saturday September 6 2008
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