With the transfer window firmly open and some moves already made, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at some of the Swans transactions so far.
It's nice to see Brendan Rodgers wasting no time and making his moves early this window, after last-minute deals for Darnel Situ and Rafik Halliche went south last time round (of which more later). Sigurdsson comes to Swansea on loan from German outfit Hoffenheim in a bid to regain his form and fitness after injury saw him miss most of the team's pre-season training camp. The Icelandic international is a dead ball specialist with bags of technical ability and some attacking flair, and should be able to provide that all-important auxiliary scoring from midfield. There are six and a half million reasons why Sigurdsson won't be joining the Swans permanently, but if his temporary addition can help the Swans maintain their big league status it will all have been worthwhile.
If the addition of Sigurdsson hadn't already given Brendan Rodgers some midfield selection dilemmas, he certainly filled his plate by signing Chelsea's Josh McEachran, also on loan until the end of the season. Rodgers was familiar with McEachran from his own time with Chelsea, and that familiarity was no doubt part of the equation which saw the young midfielder join the Swans over several other potential suitors. Rodgers has hailed McEachran's passing ability, so he ought to fit right in with the Swans style, not least because he's also only five foot eight.
Darnel Situ is finally officially a Swans player after problems with his paperwork meant he couldn't be registered in time for the first half of the season after signing from RC Lens at the tail end of the summer. In interviews, Rodgers has mostly described Situ as a prospect, so we might not be seeing too many fist team starts from the physical Frenchman just yet, especially considering there will be no more league cup matches; the traditional vehicle for blooding youngsters. One thing in Situ's favour is that although he has not been registered to play in league matches until now, he has been training with the team since the start of the season, so he should at least know the system and his team mates well enough. If he lives up to his reported potential, he could be a very nice acquisition.
Speaking of prospects, Swansea somehow managed to beat both Liverpool and Everton to young striker Rory Donnelly. Perhaps it was the Northern Irish connection with Brendan Rodgers? It's a great sign for the club that young players want to come and develop their football at Swansea. The reason Josh McEachran is coming to the Swans is because he is starved of first team opportunities at star-player-saturated Stamford Bridge; perhaps Donnelly saw the sense in signing for a team where he might get a better chance to play sooner. Whatever the case, Donnelly looks to be an exciting talent, as this scout report indicates.
It looks like Brendan Rodgers has a youth focus; not only are young players generally cheaper, but Rodgers' experience as a youth coach and developer of young talent suggests he is playing to his own strengths. Also, should the Swans suffer relegation, Rodgers knows the Swans would stand to lose at least three or four first team players as the teams elite would likely seek to remain in the top flight. By stocking the cupboard with lots of young talent, the impact of such an evacuation would be minimised and the team could expect to remain strong, enduring as quick a transition as possible.
It's hard to believe Cotterill was once the Swans record signing, coming over from Sheffield United for £600,000 after a loan spell. One of the players signed by unpopular former boss Paulo Sousa, the winger fell out of favour when Brendan Rodgers and, more specifically, Scott Sinclair, came to town. A dead ball specialist, Cotterill fell short of being able to push Sinclair or Dyer for a starting job, and after being unsuccessfully shopped around before the season, has been bought out of the last 18 months of his contract by mutual consent. A classic example of a player being left out in the cold when the manager that signed him leaves shortly after signing him. Cotterill hasn't been a feature in Rodgers promoted side, making the wage space the Swans will save on the deal more important than the player. Rumour has it Cotterill is trying out with Championship side Leicester City.
The Greek international was signed as cover in wake of the Halliche and Situ gaffes early in the season, a desperation signing that made use of league rules that teams can still sign unattached players outside of transfer windows. Of course, describing Moras as a "desperation signing" is a little unfair; he is a good central defender, as his international credentials show. However, he only made one late substitute appearance for the Swans (in the meltdown versus Wolves), and neither the Swans nor Moras had any illusions that he would be staying beyond January. Now that Situ is officially in the fold, and assuming he can act as cover instead, Moras has become surplus to requirements. He's headed back to Italy, where he played with Bologna for many years, signing with Cesena.
STILL TO COME?
Dobbie for Maynard
This deal is the talk of the town at the moment. The proposition involves sending Stephen Dobbie and a million quid to Bristol City in exchange for want-away striker Nicky Maynard. Maynard is the Robins' top scorer, but is out of contract at the end of the season and won't re-sign. He says he's good enough for the Premier League and it looks like Brendan Rodgers agrees with him. Of course, Swansea already have a queue of strikers skirting the line between Premiership and Championship class (Graham, Lita, Moore), and adding another seems a little unnecessary. Nevertheless, Rodgers seems keen on Maynard, but then he was also keen on the afore mentioned trio, all of them Rodgers' signings.
Graham has found his scoring touch in the big league, and both Lita and Moore have looked good in the few games they've been given. Whether there's room for one more is debatable, especially with Lita and Moore fighting over scraps for playing time as it is. Considering Swansea only play one striker anyway, the bigger issue in creating more goals is in midfield, which Rodgers has already taken care of by signing attacking mids Gylfi Sigurdsson and Josh McEachran. Its safe to say Rodgers knows what he's doing, so perhaps it's best to just trust the gaffer on this one. It could simply be that Rodgers wants to move Dobbie on and sees an opportunity to not only do that, but to pick up a potentially dangerous striker at the same time which one of Swansea's promoted rivals might otherwise sign instead.
On the subject of Stephen Dobbie; it seems crazy to see Dobbie's name thrown around in transfer talk, and crazier still to see him spoken of as little more than a makeweight. The savvy Scot was a central figure in Swansea's promotion run, and many feel he has hardly been given a fair shot to impose himself on the Premier League. His start against Spurs might have been borne of necessity with the compact schedule of games over the Christmas period, and he might not have played his best game on the occasion, but that game did represent a watershed moment for Swansea this season as the team looked more fired up in the attacking third than they have done so far. Was it co-incidence that Dobbie was on the field that day? Whatever the case, the arrival of Sigurdsson and McEachran, along with the return of Orlandi from injury, provides Rodgers with three more players who can play in the hole. Considering Dobbie was struggling for starts without those three competitors, it seems more than likely the Scot will be gone when the window closes, whether in a deal for Maynard or not.
Full Back Cover?
Just a quick observation; Rodgers has now flooded his midfield with quality options, and is looking to bolster an already deep forward rank, yet there has been precious little talk of defensive cover, least of all at full back. Jazz Richards has proven he can hold his own as a cover option, and to see Richards routinely chosen ahead of the perplexingly re-signed Fede Bessone confirmed that the Argentine old boy is not a legitimate first team option. Alan Tate is due back from injury and whilst serviceable as a stop-gap full-back, has nothing like enough pace to be a safe option against Premier League wide men. Which leaves Richards alone as the sole reasonable cover option behind starters Taylor and Rangel, players who have each had injury concerns recently. For my money, Rodgers has to address this blind spot. I picked this area up as a weak point at the start of the season and it is still yet to be addressed. The confusion caused when midfielder Kemy Agustien was asked to switch to right back in the QPR game led to the equalising goal, the Dutchman clearly reluctant and the entire defensive unit temporarily unsettled. If Taylor or Rangel are out of the side for any length of time, Swansea will be down to two, forced to play a youngster full-time with no cover at a key position in a league full of dangerous wingers. The good news is there is still more than two weeks for something to happen on this front. I know what I'm hoping for.
Boy that Sigurdsson's got a shot on him! Can't wait to see him play for the Swans. He reminds me a bit of Ferrie Bodde.
Yes, I must admit I wasn't aware he had that kind of shot on him either, until I did a little YouTube research. Can't wait to see one of those fly in sometime soon... M
Posted by Hari on 01/15/2012
Brilliant post.....never seen such a comprehensive one on this site!
Thank you! M
Posted by Joe B on 01/16/2012
Great post, and a great victory over Arsenal. Dyer nearly always impresses me with his calm and precision. Here's to an aggressive transfer window- cheers from Indiana!
Posted by Hari on 01/17/2012
Great performance against Arsenal!...club's got a great future for sure..
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Max Hicks is a writer, musician and former Sunday League left winger. Despite never playing professionally, Hicks has walked onto the hallowed turf of the old Vetch field in full Swansea whites... as a mascot. These days, when not writing, he plays in defence in a weekly jumpers-for-goalposts kickaround.