Swansea made it to the Premiership, playing an array of beautiful one-touch passing, and glorious attacking football, but will sticking to this style prove a success for them in the top flight?
Stoke boss Tony Pulis recently said that the Swans should stick to their principles and their style of play, which is easy for him to say, when his Stoke team play in a totally different style and have managed to establish themselves in the top division.
On the one hand, it would be naive to think that Swansea could just change the way they play overnight. They have been very successful with their style of play in the last three years, and it is what has brought them to the top flight.
Swansea’s expansive style, and passing game left them with loads of time on the ball in the Championship, but pace is a priority in the Premier League and the players will find they dont have as much time on the ball at this level, something manager Brendan Rogers will have to tweak. Swansea’s one touch football is the same kind that saw West Bromwich Albion under Tony Mowbray, go straight back down to the Championship, and struggle last year under Roberto Di Matteo, before Roy Hodgson came in and focused on a more defensive style, which ultimately saw them stay up.
If Swansea play in a similar style to Blackpool and Hull before them, they could find themselves in a similar position: starting off well by surprising people, and winning over the neutrals, but ultimately heading straight back to the Championship. The Swan’s, will need to be careful not to be focused on style over substance. To stay up, they will need to be up for a battle, to grind out results when they most need it, something that Wolves have shown over the past few seasons.
Defence is a priority in the Premier League, and it was ultimately Blackpool’s downfall last season, so Swansea will need to focus in this area, particularly when they commit so many forward in attack. Most of all they need to address their dead ball play, where they concede many goals, something they will not be able to afford against the Stoke City’s and Bolton’s of the world.
There are also significant weaknesses in Swansea’s squad. They are well short on Premier league experience. Although we have seen before that this isn’t a necessity for survival; Reading managed to finish eighth in 2007 with an equally inexperienced squad.
Brendan Rogers has had a tight schedule to work on, being the last side to be promoted through the play-offs. To be fair to him he has tried to bring in some players with experience and a more combative edge like Marcos Senna, albeit unsuccessfully. He has made three signings, goalkeeper Jose Moreira, striker Danny Graham and defender Steven Caulker on loan from Tottenham.
It seems that rather than changing their style, and throwing cash around on expensive targets, Rogers has settled on buying players who fit into his current system. Latest target Wayne Routledge is an example of this, a player who would provide good competition alongside the pace and productivity of Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer on the wings. It still seems as if they would benefit from one or two with Premier League or other top league experience in the side though. Strength in depth is absolutely vital, as is the ability to be flexible at this level.
Norwich another of the promoted sides, also have a squad significantly lacking in Premier League experience, and will be reliant upon many of the players who have taken them from League one to the top division. There is a huge step between Championship and Premiership level, and we will have to wait and see whether these players can cut it.
Ultimately Swansea fans will want to see good football, but there is a price to pay in this league for sticking to your identity completely. It’s all right playing beautiful football that impresses the neutrals and gets you plaudits, but Premier League survival is what must come first.
Let me know your thoughts on what the Premier League new boys need to do to stay up, comment below or follow me @LaurenRutter on Twitter.