Premier League Preview - Swansea City
MANAGER: Michael Laudrup
STADIUM: Liberty Stadium (20532)
LAST SEASON: 11TH
Without question the surprise package last season, a surprise that vastly out performed their expectations and in doing so purported a brand of patient, passing play that in itself created great excitement - not least a home victory over Arsenal in one of the games of the season. Brendan Rodgers' style of play was never going to be a secret but certainly caught many of the elite off guard.
As the season drew to a conclusion, the Swans form waned somewhat. But nevertheless an 11th placed finish rather epitomised a great season for the South Wales set-up. Only 11 points off relegated Bolton Wanderers rather shows how much they must guard against complacency coming into a new campaign under a new boss.
IN: Michu (Rayo Vallecano, £2m), Jose Manuel Flores (Genoa, £2m), Jonathan de Guzman (Villarreal, loan)
Two key losses have tempered ambitions at the Liberty Stadium - Joe Allen has followed his boss Rodgers to Liverpool for the frankly farcical sum of £15m for a player who has spent one season in the top flight. In come the likes of Michu and de Guzman - the latter a player long tracked by many European clubs - their new boss Michael Laudrup could give that new-found clarity to help Swansea avoid second-season syndrome.
KEY PLAYER: Scott Sinclair
Scott Sinclair will once again be a key player in Swansea's arsenal as he prepares for the coming campaign. A key figure in their promotion to the Premier League, many were surprised that he was able to make the transition to the top flight so effortlessly. 19 goals in the Championship - 8 in the Premier League, Sinclair will be hoping to emulate this and impress new boss Laudrup.
Had this of been Rodgers at the helm, I would have considered Swansea to be down with Norwich and Southampton in the wrong area of town, but Laudrup - despite being an unknown quantity in the Premier League - will to my mind focus the players and adapt the current brand of patient play with attacking impetus and flair.