2014/15 Premier League Preview
Where will the Swans finish in the League table come May 2015 in relation to the other 19 teams?
Once again, Vital Swansea have provided the Observer with our views ahead of the 2014/15 campaign, which you can read further down below.
It may sound quite optimistic to some, but this was written before the 3-0 home friendly defeat against Villareal, in which 90 minutes of football has seemingly reduced thousands of us to panic and worry before Saturday's tough opener at Old Trafford.
You can't blame them too much, but before the game things didn't seem too bad despite the departures of a number of first team players.
The big problem in this game was Monk's usage of the 4-4-2 formation - which he should never experiment with ever again based on the evidence of the Villareal friendly alone.
Monk only had 1 winger available, he put Sigurdsson out wide on the right and our shape was completely lop-sided due to the Icelandic's habit of moving inside.
Surely, the Swans manager will revert back to the tried and tested 4-2-3-1 system that suits us best and implement a solid game plan to try and cope with Manchester United's new 3-5-2 this weekend.
Players lost this Summer, such a big loss?
Many pundits will see the list of those players who have left, and added to the fact that Garry Monk begins his first ever full season - and in the English top flight nevertheless - they're tipping us for failure.
However, if you consider who those players are who have left or will be leaving, then it's not such a big concern or loss.
Firstly, goalkeeper Michel Vorm and left back Ben Davies departed to join Spurs, with Gylfi Sigurdsson coming the other way.
Vorm was heavily criticised last season for his performances - mainly a lack of effort and desire - conceding goals - that you were sure he might have prevented the season before. Also for me, Ben Davies had an average season by his standards. Defensively, his positioning was poor, and it's been noted just how many times wingers were able to get past him down the flanks. Despite that, it's still a big loss to lose a young defender with massive potential. He should do very well at Spurs in the up coming season.
Then there's the Spaniards - all five of them - Michu, Hernandez, Chico Flores, Jose Canas and Alejandro Pozuelo. The latter two failed to make much of an impact in the first team and had a bad influence on the squad. Michu barely played a game and his departure was expected. Chico's wasn't, but some will be glad to see the back of him following his antics last year. The timing of his departure isn't great though, and Monk is rushing to bring in a defender or two - but he should have shown more attention to strengthening the back line given the amount of soft goals we conceded last season.
Hernandez started to perform really well when Monk took over and he moved him from the wing and played him in the attacking midfield role, but the Swans boss should have enough options in this area with Gomis, Sigurdsson and Emnes.
Individually, you could say they're not big losses - baring one or two (mainly Ben Davies) - considering the impact, (or lack of it) - they made last year.
However, collectively as a group, that's quite a number of regular first team players lost and teams often struggle when big changes are made.
With no Europa League distraction - a slight improvement expected this year on last season's 12th place finish?
With the Europa League adding to the squad's schedule last season, some off-the-field troubles and a change of manager, a final position of 12th is an excellent achievement you have to say.
Without the Europa League distraction and a few of the characters who had a negative impact on the squad, the Swans have the potential to slightly improve on last season's 12th. The departures of players may not be as costly as some would say, and Monk has brought in some exciting signings - notably Gomis, Montero and the return of Sigurdsson. What's key now is to boost our defence and defensive midfield - which is a top priority for Garry Monk before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month.
If the Swans can bring in Napoli defender Federico Fernandez then that would be a much needed boost, and 1 or 2 more defensive signings and we should be set to go for 2014/15.
You can read my thoughts for the Observer below:
Despite us losing a number of first-team players - Michu, Hernández, Vorm and Ben Davies - pre-season has gone rather well. We`ve managed (so far) to hang on to our most valuable asset in Bony and we`ve added the likes of Montero, Sigurdsson and Gomis to help us replace the attacking players we`ve lost. We`re lacking strength in depth at the back and we could also do with a defensive midfielder, so you get the impression right now that we`re a team who might need two or three goals a game to win - but we`ve got the quality to do that. Garry Monk wants two or three signings this month so hopefully our defence will be stronger.
Bony once again will be key - we have to keep hold of him. And young midfielder Jay Fulton showed some promise at the end of last season, so hopefully he can step up and be more involved.
Ángel Rangel is lacking pace to cope with wingers in the top flight, and his back-up Dwight Tiendalli was very poor last season. The defence as a whole has to show a big improvement on last year as we conceded far too many soft goals.
We can`t have anyone making off-the-pitch headlines this season after last year`s training ground incidents … On the pitch, Bony and Gomis could form a deadly partnership and if they can score regularly, then they`ll make plenty of headlines, along with manager Monk for proving the doubters wrong.
Three songs that define the side
Daddy Cool (Boney M) - Wilfried Bony`s song; Daydream Believer (The Monkees); What a Beautiful Day (The Levellers).
An ambitious 11th
A 11th place prediction does seem quite ambitious and optimistic at this stage - especially given it's Monk's first full season as manager, but if he can get us clicking together well then we have some excellent attacking talent who are capable of scoring plenty of goals.
You can read the thoughts on all 20 Premier League clubs via the links:
Part 1 - Arsenal to Manchester City
Part 2 - Manchester Utd to West Ham
Final League positions predictions:
Based on the predictions in the Observer from fans of each of the 20 clubs, here are two prediction tables, the first showing a full table, vs actual predictions (some duplicates).
What's interesting to see from the predictions is that the only club predicted to finish in the bottom 3 is Aston Villa.
The likes of Sunderland, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Stoke and Hull City are again expected to finish just below mid-table.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are all predicted to win the League by their respected fan, with Manchester United 3rd and Everton in the top four.
The new comers - Leicester City are as high as 13th, Burnley 16th and QPR 15th.
1 - Chelsea
2 - Arsenal
3 - Liverpool
4 - Man City
5 - Man Utd
6 - Everton
7 - Spurs
8 - Newcastle
9 - Sunderland
10 - West Ham
11 - Swansea
12 - Crystal Palace
13 - Hull City
14 - Stoke
15 - Southampton
16 - Leicester City
17 - WBA
18 - Aston Villa
19 - Q.P.R.
20 - Burnley
1 - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool
2 - Man City
3 - Man Utd
4 - Everton
6 - Spurs
8 - Newcastle
10 - Sunderland, West Ham
11 - Swansea, Crystal Palace
12 - Stoke, Southampton, Hull City
13 - Leicester City
15 - Q.P.R., WBA
16 - Burnley
18 - Aston Villa