The two most anticipated dates on next season's fixture list are those of the South Wales Derby, Swansea versus Cardiff. On Saturday November 2nd, Cardiff City will host the Swans in the first of the coming season's two derby matches, with the return fixture at the Liberty coming on Saturday February 8th. - Premier League fixtures It is interesting that both games have been initially scheduled as Saturday fixtures -- I had anticipated the derby being given prime Sunday billing for television coverage.
Another day, and seemingly little change in the supposed stalemate between Michael Laudrup, his agent Bayram Tutumlu and the Swansea board. This summer's early saga is far from what Swans fans might have anticipated, and even further from what anyone wanted. If there's no smoke without fire, then I'm inclined to suggest there isn't even any smoke in this situation. So far, we have been led to believe Laudrup is frustrated at the lack of transfer activity, even though the transfer window doesn't open for another fortnight and few teams have started to refresh their squads in earnest.
Amidst rumours of unrest behind the scenes, Swansea City have made their first major move of the summer, signing impending free agent Jose Canas from Spanish side Real Betis. The move had been in the offing since last January, and while Canas' addition to the squad ought to surprise nobody, Swans fans will at least be encouraged that the talk has come true. There is more talk which Swans fans will hope doesn't come true; that of Michael Laudrup leaving the Liberty owing to disagreements over transfer targets and the amount of money the club should be spending on new players.
In the seventh and final part of my Swansea City positional season recap, I'll be looking at the Swans' strikers. I discussed the Swans' top scorer Michu in my last blog which dealt with attacking midfielders, as technically speaking Michu is not a striker. Beyond Michu and Danny Graham, who was sold in the January window, the Swans' depth up front was thin. Today I'll be looking primarily at Luke Moore and Itay Shechter. Shechter joined the Swans at the start of the season on loan from FC Kaiserslautern of the German Bundesliga, ostensibly to give the side depth without financial commitment while new boss Michael Laudrup evaluated his players.
In the sixth part of my Swansea positional breakdown for the season, I'm looking at wingers. Following the early season departure of Scott Sinclair to Manchester City, Michael Laudrup moved to bring former Valencia winger Pablo Hernandez in as a replacement to supplement incumbent wide men Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer. Although Roland Lamah later joined the club on loan, he didn't play enough to feature here. - Laudrup suggests Williams may be sold Although promising that Swans fans will see the best of him next season, Pablo has actually had a pretty decent first season in South Wales.
In the fifth part of my Swansea season preview, I will be looking at the Swans attacking midfielders. In Michael Laudrup's flexible system, wingers such as Pablo Hernandez and Wayne Routledge have lined up in the hole, as have Jonathan de Guzman and Michu. • Swansea season roundup: The goalkeepers • Swansea season roundup: central defence • Swansea season roundup: full-backs • Swansea season roundup: central midfield However, in this article I will be concentrating on De Guzman (who also saw action in deep midfield) and Michu (who was shunted forward to play as striker for the latter half of the season), because both players played their best football in the attacking mid spot.
In the fourth part of my Swansea positional roundup for the season, I'll look at the Swans central midfielders. For clarity, central midfield in this article describes the two deep midfielder positions - the '2' in Michael Laudrup's 4-2-3-1 formation. • Swansea season roundup: The goalkeepers • Swansea season roundup: central defence • Swansea season roundup: full-backs So, Leon Britton, Ki Sung-Yueng and Kemy Agustien will feature, Jonathan de Guzman will not. Although De Guzman played a number of times in this position, he was also used extensively in the hole as a central attacking midfielder.
In the third part of my Swansea season recap, I'll take a look at the full-backs. Angel Rangel had a memorable season, not only putting in consistent performances at right back, but also enjoying a new part-time role as a defensive winger. Newcomer Dwight Tiendalli did enough as backup to earn a new contract, while youngster Ben Davies made sure Neil Taylor's early season injury didn't hurt the Swans defence nearly as much as many thought it might. Rangel has always been an attacking threat on the right flank for the Swans.
In the second part of my Swansea squad roundup, I'll look at central defence. After a rocky start, new Swan Chico Flores and acting captain Ash Williams went on to form a formidable duo, arguably among the best in the Premier League. Past the two starters, squad depth was thin; veteran Garry Monk deputised for Flores's various injuries, whilst youngster Kyle Bartley had to make do with a bare minimum of appearances. Current transfer talk has Williams valued at 10 million pounds, with Arsenal and Liverpool said to be interested.
Swansea City enjoyed a highly successful season, with Michael Laudrup's reshaped squad and intelligent tactics earning the club its first major silverware (League Cup) and highest Premier League finish (ninth place, 46 points). With the season over, I'll be taking a look at how the Swans players have fared over the season. My team-wide breakdown starts in goal. Goalkeepers It's been a season of ups and downs in the Swansea net; mostly ups for Gerhard Tremmel, mostly downs for Michel Vorm. Vorm, last season's outstanding player, has had a frustrating time.
The 0-3 result against Fulham may have been disappointing, but it seemed clear from the off that Michael Laudrup had given his side considerable licence to go out and have fun against Fulham on Sunday afternoon. The Swans attacked Fulham relentlessly, especially for the majority of the second half, but in so doing left themselves uncharacteristically open at the back. Fulham duly took advantage of the invitation, and hit the Swans on the counter. The first two of Fulham's goals came as a result of defensive errors in playing the offside trap, whilst the third, scored in injury time, was mostly the result of a beaten Swansea side throwing in the towel for the day after getting no reward for a fine display of attacking football.
By Sunday evening, Swansea will know whether they've finished eighth or ninth place in the Premier League, but either way, Michael Laudrup's side will have eclipsed last season's 11th place finish to cap off the Swans' most successful ever season. - Michu: I'm staying at Swansea A win over Sunday's opponents, Fulham, coupled with a draw or loss for West Brom (who host Manchester United in what will be Sir Alex Ferguson's last ever game in charge) will see the Swans reach eighth place, while any other realistic permutation of results will see the Swans stay in ninth.