Carnlough, Northern Ireland
The Swansea City board had to make one of their toughest management appointments to date this week as they searched for a new boss to replace the solid foundations Paulo Sousa helped to maintain at the club.
Since taking over at Swansea City, Huw Jenkins and the board have a good history of manager appointments. Brian Flynn helped us to avoid relegation in 2003 and signed a number of key players including Alan Tate, Leon Britton and Lee Trundle. Kenny Jackett won us promotion from League 2 in 2005, and Martinez followed and won us the League One title in 2007, and helped us to develop into a top half Championship side.
Paulo Sousa faced a tough task of replacing Roberto Martinez - our best manager since John Toshack over 20 years ago. Despite guiding us to our best League finish in nearly 30 years, Sousa found it difficult in his short spell at the Liberty Stadium. The Swansea faithful didn`t all approve of his style of play, we had been used to "champagne football" but Sousa`s style concentrated on a strong defence, and little for goals and attacking play.
It was quite remarkable though for the Portuguese boss to guide us to 7th place, despite having an attack that scored just 40 goals - Peterborough who finished last even scored more.
It was tough for Sousa to replace Martinez, but he came in and did a very solid job, and helped our defence tremendously, but does Brendan Rodgers have an even tougher test ahead of him?
Swansea City fans have got used to a European style of football at the Liberty Stadium in recent years. Spaniard Roberto Martinez and Portuguese Paulo Sousa employed a good passing game but they differed in certain ways. Martinez`s was far more attractive to watch but with a vulnerable defence. Sousa`s lacked attacking creativity but had a back four that rarely leaked goals. Ideally, a combination of that would be ideal; can a British man mould us into an attractive attacking side with a solid defence? I`m sure we`ll all be glad to see more than one striker on the pitch at one time, and we could adopt a different system such as 4-4-2 and 4-3-3, rather than a midfield dominated 4-5-1.
The former Watford and Reading manager has come in rather late in pre-season, not gifted with plenty of time to assess his squad and look for new signings. He has an attack that has struggled for goals in the last 12 months and has key players who could definitely attract bids from other clubs - mainly Ashley Williams and Darren Pratley - holding onto them for the entire season will be difficult.
He also won`t be blessed with a few million in the transfer kitty like he had at the Majeski Stadium. We`re not a club who can attract big-money signings - and evidence of that is our only two signings of the summer - both free transfers from Lower league clubs.
So what can we realistically expect next season from the Brendan Rodgers and his squad? Play-offs is a distant target I believe, whilst mid-table would be a very solid and respectable finish from the new man in charge. What we need now is some stability and consistency. We don`t need another manager departing in 12 months time, and of course we don`t want a manager failing and dragging us into the bottom half.
Despite what your initial reactions may be to Brendan Rodgers` arrival, lets get behind him from today and hope for another good season in the Championship.
Written on 16th July 2010.
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