Swansea City: A Club In The Midst Of An Identity Crisis

Swansea City: A Club In The Midst Of An Identity Crisis
Mar 13, 2018

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It’s been a long seven years in the Premier League for Swansea City. They have spent as many seasons in the top flight as Birmingham City, Derby County and Portsmouth. However, the last three seasons have seen them battle to survive the drop, a battle they haven’t won yet this season. A collection of issues on and off the pitch have lead to this consecutive run of fights to survive.

New Ownership

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Swansea fans do not enjoy change it would seem. Two seasons in and the American consortium is no more popular than they were in 2016. Swansea were – for the entirety of their rise – a fan-run club. The Supporters’ Trust owned almost a quarter of the club’s shares and had a representative on the board of directors. Nowadays it seems most B-List American celebrities have a share of the club and many of them are unlikely to have set foot on Welsh soil or even heard of the club. It is the indifference of certain owners that has caused unrest at the club.

The Chairman

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It’s been a stunning fall from grace for Huw Jenkins. Having been masterful in his work to help guide his boyhood club to the top-flight, he was seen as a legend as recently as 2015. Since then, his eagerness to cash in on players, poor managerial appointments and accusations of deceit has marred his legacy and been the spark to ignite the calls for his head. In a recent interview, he told WalesOnline that he would consider standing down at the end of the season from a position that seems untenable. The uncertainty of his position or potential replacement is a cause for concern at the club.

“The Swansea Way”

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Often talked about at the club, the Swansea Way was pioneered by former captain Roberto Martínez. The fluid, attacking, passing movement was traditionally associated with the Welsh club since the League One days. It earned plaudits and fans from around the world in the Premier League, however, it has rarely been seen since Michael Laudrup’s departure.

While Swansea are improved at home under Carlos Carvalhal, the performances remain stale away from home, with only a debut win at Vicarage Road to his name so far in a spell that has seen Swansea play Newcastle, Brighton, Huddersfield, Wolverhampton, Notts County and Sheffield Wednesday. There may be a change in this on the horizon, with Carvalhal’s contract only running to the summer and rumours that the aforementioned Martinez will return to the Liberty after his World Cup campaign with Belgium.

The Players

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Part of the reason behind the disappearance of the Swansea way is the fact that the old guard have moved on. Of the starting XI against Huddersfield last week, Ki Sung-Yueng was the longest-serving player, having signed in 2012. After him, it was Łukasz Fabiański and Federico Fernandez, who signed in 2015. Only three first-team players remain from the days of the championship: Leon Britton, Àngel Rangel and Nathan Dyer. Britton and Rangel are regarded as icons of the Swansea way, but both seem on the verge of retirement. There are so few players that Swansea fans can feel an attachment to, although youngsters Oli McBurnie, Connor Roberts and Dan James have brought that feeling of connection back to an extent.

Leadership Void

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Few departures have hurt more for Swansea than that of Ashley Williams. The centre-back was replaced by Alfie Mawson who has been incredible, but it is his influence as a captain that has been missed. Swansea’s captaincy had rarely changed before. Before Williams, it was Garry Monk, and before him, it had been Roberto Martínez. Leon Britton was given the armband after his departure, but a brief spell as a coach saw it passed on to Àngel Rangel. Neither of the two are first choice and so the armband has been passed around for fun this season, with Lukasz Łukasz Fabiański, Kyle Bartley, Alfie Mawson, Federico Fernandez and Wilfried Bony all wearing it for spells.

Moving Forward

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Personally, I think Roberto Martinez’s return to the Liberty would be a positive move, allowing a pre-season to work with the current squad and bring in his own players. If the club were to stay up and Stoke City were relegated, a move for Joe Allen would make fans happy and would be a strong upgrade on current midfield options as well as a candidate for the captain’s armband. Furthermore, the correct replacement for Huw Jenkins will be essential. It’s time for him to call it a day and stand down. Swansea are at a crossroads. They are not moving forward. And in the world of football, if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backwards.

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