Vital Swansea Fan Interviews - Leighton Cuff
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1. We'll have to start at the Play-off Final. Firstly, were you there, and how confident did you feel that Brendan Rodgers and his team would guide us to the win and ultimately promotion to the top flight?
Yes, i got a whole load of tickets for some friends and family. My gramps would have been a very proud man that day. Did I think we`d win the play-offs? ... on the day - oddly yes. There was an air of expectation around all season and on the day there was a nothing but positivity around the swans fans.
Did I think Brendan Rogers would guide us to promotion in his first season? Like most other honest people - you`d have to say um...categorically - no.
2. Not many people would have expected a play-off win last year when Brendan Rodgers first arrived to take over from Paulo Sousa. What were your expectations for last season before it started?
Expectation was zero. Its hard to keep any momentum going with managers coming and going but its credit to Huw Jenkins that he stuck with the style that we as fans, love to see and appointed a manager to can take the footballing ethos and elevate the team to a new level.
Huw has been magnificent and probably deserves much more of the credit dished out at the end of the M4.
3. Darren Pratley's future was in doubt for most of the season and he later told that he felt he wasn't wanted, saying chairman Huw Jenkins showed little interest in arranging him a new contract. What are your views on this? Should the club have shown more effort to keep him last year or will we cope without him?
From the outside looking in, it looked like Huw was playing his part in the cat and mouse nonsense that is part and parcel of football these days. On the one hand, it would have been great to retain all the guys who were the core of our success, but who can blame anyone for moving on if the incentive is large enough?
I don`t think anyone believes the rhetoric around ANY football transfer anymore. It would actually be refreshing if someone came out and said - "yeah - they offered me a massive wedge of cash so I thought, f*ck it. I`m off"
Loyalty is hard to come by in football - even harder to come by when a Bosman signing-on fee is wafted under your nose! BUT - the Bosman ruling works as much for us as against us - we`ll see who comes in. Besides, the guy gave us 5 good years and he was excellent so good luck to him.
Will we cope? Yes - Brendan will have something up his sleeve for sure.
4. Another player to leave was our number goalkeeper Dorus De Vries. Can you blame him for joining Wolves, a team who have survived relegation in two consecutive seasons, or has he done it just for the money, as he could face a long time on the subs bench?
See 3 above but with added bitterness!
WHAT is DDV thinking about (apart from his wallet...)?
Instead of playing every week in the biggest league in the world and making a name for himself across the globe, DDV will be sitting down in his replica kit like one of the brummy kids in the stand behind him. At least Prats will be getting a game every other week.
5. Neil Taylor looks likely to be the next player to leave. The young left back has frustrated a lot of the fans with his desire to leave after just one season with us. How has your opinion changed on Taylor, would you like him to stay and do you feel a move away could damage his career?
As with everything, there is two sides to a story.
On the one hand, you have a young 'rough diamond' who had a good season and who has been developed as a footballer by Swansea. Toon come in with a big package for 'Naylor` (a term they have already coined on their Supporter Blogs). Footballer sees '£` signs and wants to force an exit. Fans think he is essentially mugging-us off and that we should 'boo` him down Wind St.....etc
On the other hand, you`ve got a football club who have realised in hindsight that this kid is worth a lot more than £1M and that we should try and keep him.
The issue for me is that both parties have behaved rather badly in this. Taylor`s behaviour is distasteful to the Swans staff, his team mates and most importantly us - the fans. However we should also remember that Swansea agreed to the £1M clause. Why? Maybe a 500% rise in his market value over 1 season looked like a good return on investment at the time? Either way I don`t think anyone could argue that the spirit of the contract is not on Taylors side and Swansea need to learn from this publicly embarrassing debacle - whatever its conclusion.
Swans agreed to the clause and were fully aware of the reason for its inclusion. They are hiding behind the 'literal` interpretation of the contract - not what the clause was intended to trigger when the money came-in. Pretty poor contract negotiating in my view and something they should never have agreed to.
Taylor though has behaved much like how i would imagine a monkey might when a zoo keeper promises bananas but delivers brocoli. I kind of understand it, but its just embarrassing.
Taylor should surely sit down with Huw (the Zoo Keeper) and renegotiate a better deal. He could get bigger bananas and also get first team football every week.
Will he succeed away from Swansea? Possibly - he`s looked the part whenever i`ve seen him (except during his 2 minute Forest 'display` of course...). History though doesn`t bode well for players who leave our club - a lesson not considered by messers DDV and Pratley.
6. Angel Rangel and Andrea Orlandi have stayed though which delighted manager Brendan Rodgers after they both signed new contracts. How important do you think this is to the club for the new season?
Angel signing - great news. Always a threat going forwards and although i think positionally and defensively he needs a reality check, he`ll be exciting for the premiership (if not responsible for all our shipped goals!).
Orlandi - I guess we need players for the FA/Carling cup? Brendan must know what he`s doing! On a serious note, hes technically very good and provided he`s in a game where he finds some space, he could be useful to change games. Also - its unusual to see reciprocal loyalty which is refreshing.
7. Brendan Rodgers has done some work to release the 'dead wood' in the squad as Albert Serran, Cedric Van Der Gun, Jamie Grimes and Kerry Morgan have left. Who else do you think we should get rid of to allow more room for new, better signings?
Pintado (bad injury) will probably run his contract down to be released;
Cotterill appears to be a bad fit - ship to the Champ.
Agustien could yet cut-it if he gets a run in the team and finds some form;
Butler will be fringe then shown the door
Beattie and Moore - out on loan to Champ
Shaun Macdonald - Yeovil 2011/12 Player of the Year/Most improved player of the year/Clubman of the Year etc.
8. Rodgers' first signing of the Summer was the £3.5m capture of Danny Graham, not surprisingly from his former club Watford. Are you happy with his arrival and are you confident he can be our main goalscorer next season?
Strong signing. He caught the eye both home and away against them last season and it is obvious why we tried to get him for £600K at the start of last year. Not sure he`ll set the world alight on his own but I think he`s a good fit with our style and with the squad around him.
9. Rodgers says he wants another 3 or 4 new players. Is this enough and in what positions do we need to strengthen in?
In an ideal world, we`d get another 4. Another striker, some cover at the back but most importantly some Premiership/La Liga experience (ala Campo for Bolton).
10. Swansea had an amazing season last year, one of the best ever, but they still had weaknesses in their play. Can we still be successful if we keep to our attractive style of play. And what weaknesses do we need to improve on to have more of a chance of avoiding relegation?
Our main problem last year was burying teams when we had the chances. We lost Countless points last year...unless you um, go through each match and ahm, count them...
It`s only going to be tougher next year against better defences and with players who will punish the smallest of mistakes. We need to find a better ratio in our finishing and be more steely when we have a lead. That means some new personnel with better brains and more quality.
11. What's your prediction for the opening game of the season away at Manchester City?
As long as we dont get overawed with the occasion and stick to our principals - being brave on the ball etc, I think we could surprise a few people. I`m saying score draw.
12. And your prediction for where we will finish in the League next year?
1st!! Up the Swans!!!
Thanks to Leighton Cuff for answering our questions.