Swansea’s meteoric decline from Premier League stability has been a serious concern for their supporters. Many problems have stemmed from the unpropitious owners, unwilling to sufficiently back the club in the transfer market; for whom money, seemingly, is the primary concern. Even the questionable decision-making of Huw Jenkins, whom, for years, embodied the consummate chairman, has soured his relationship with the Swansea faithful and has negatively skewed his legacy at the club.
The summer appointment of Graham Potter was a refreshing and welcomed adjustment to the despondency that has characterised Swansea in recent seasons. However, the extent of their financial limitations and the supposed desperation to raise money swiftly has left Swansea’s squad depleted and has severely hindered Potter’s ability to restore the glory days to the Liberty Stadium. In truth, the contentious manner in which the Swans lost to Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-final encapsulated their recent misfortune and consolidated the disappointment of their supporters.
The Welsh side are one of the most youthful outfits in the Championship, and they have only used 28 players in the league this season – four of which have left the club. Upon his arrival, Potter was entrusted with reforming the possession-based football that garnered Swansea’s reputation of being an expansive and aesthetically pleasing team; a style that forged a treasured on-field identity, but one that has gradually regressed during previous seasons.
As was evidenced by their spirited 2-3 loss to Manchester City, the Swans can play attractive football, Bersant Celina’s goal is paradigmatic of transitioning seamlessly from defence to attack. A goal steeped in the alluring ideals of Pep Guardiola’s philosophy, Swansea had effectively outplayed Manchester City. And yet, due to contentious officiating and the absence of VAR – despite Swansea being the first Premier League ground to trial the technology – the Swans are left languishing in midtable, with no tangible target in sight.
The quest for an immediate return to England’s top-flight is ostensibly over for the Swans, and they have severely struggled to attain continuity in their results this term. This inconsistency isn’t a product of insufficient quality; instead, it has arisen from the limitations that Potter and his lessened squad have been subjected.
Far too many players left without being adequately replaced, and his team is mostly comprised of young players who are still receiving formative experiences in their evolution as footballers. The apparent willingness to sell Daniel James, one of their most coveted assets and formidable players, exemplified the contempt that the owners display towards Potter and the supporters. Once appointed, Potter publicly confirmed his authority over player recruitment, yet fulfilling that role is increasingly arduous without appropriate funding.
Simply put, Potter cannot succeed at Swansea without adequate financial backing. It appears that the former Östersunds manager was brought to South Wales under false pretences and unfulfilled promises. Most frustratingly, the 43-year-old’s principles and ideals are utterly compatible with Swansea’s desired footballing philosophy, as has been evidenced by their football this season, and during his remarkable eight-year stint in Sweden. He transformed a team from the fourth-tier of Swedish football into Europa League participants, where he masterminded a 2-1 triumph against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Contemporarily, there’s a cycle of British managers who land Premier League jobs despite employing the same, overtly conservative and maladaptive style of play. Generally, clubs in England’s top-flight have reverted to discover imaginative and intuitive football in the form of foreign managers. Eddie Howe is conceivably the most notable anomaly, and Potter’s footballing philosophy is in keeping with that of the Bournemouth manager. The 43-year-old has performed admirably in exigent circumstances, and if he doesn’t receive suitable support then he could, and perhaps should, depart the Liberty Stadium.