The case for Swansea to stay up
I said 'The billiard table pitches of the Premier League will suit Swansea's game literally down to the ground' and (referencing Blackpool) 'there is no reason to think Swansea, with their superior defending and intimidating home atmosphere, can't win those vital extra points which eluded Holloway's ersatz Swans, and stay up'.
Point proven. The Swans passing play won them plaudits all season long as the Premier League proved the perfect platform to show off a finesse game too good for the general kick and rush of the Championship. As for the Swans defence being a key to survival, the Swans posted 14 clean sheets, second only to the Manchester sides, and were only beaten four times at home all season.
Reasons why Swansea will struggle
I said 'for me the warning light is brightly shining on the lack of full back depth and physical strength in the middle of the park'
The Swans thankfully got through most of the season without too many injury concerns at full back. Utility man Alan Tate broke his leg very early on, and when Rangel in particular had to miss some games, youngster Jazz Richards came in and was reasonably composed. Still, the Swans were lucky the injuries were mostly minor. As for the physical strength, the Swans really did nothing to address that issue all season, mostly because they didn't have to; Britton and Allen having excellent seasons and proving that you don't have to be big to win the ball.
The player who must deliver is...
I said Danny Graham.
Well? 12 goals in his first full Premier League season is not at all bad. When Graham was signed for £3.5 million from Watford, I think most fans would have been content with a goals return in the ten to 15 bracket, and that's exactly what Graham produced. He has lived up to his own admission that he scores his goals in bunches, but his work ethic is certainly consistent even if his scoring is less so.
The Swans X Factor is...
I said Stephen Dobbie.
And I couldn't have been more wrong. Dobbie was a key part of the side during the promotion campaign, and I thoroughly expected his form to continue. However, after he struggled in the season opener against Man City, he lost his place in the side and never made it back, despite several solid reserves performances and a lot of support from certain sections of the Swans fanbase. Dobbie finally wound up back on loan with Blackpool and might end up as surely one of the only players in history to be promoted to the Premier League three times in a row.
Swansea's secret weapon is...
I said Ferrie Bodde.
And he still might be. Bodde's story is a sad one, as the player has struggled to return to the game following repeated knee injuries. There was hope he might have made it back during the season, but Bodde broke down with a third successive knee injury whilst playing in a reserves game trying to make it back to the team and had to put his comeback on hold once again. Bodde might yet make it back for next season, but he has been out of action for so long, some fans are ready to move on without him. I would love to see him return, not just because it would be a good story for Bodde, but also because it would be a huge boost for the Swans; Bodde is a magnificent player. Of course, to what extent his game will have been affected by his injuries remains to be seen... if he decides to return at all, as retirement and return are starting to be talked about in equal measure.
Swansea's toughest opponent this season will be...
I said 'not Manchester United... The toughest matches will be against QPR and Norwich; the teams closest to Swansea's level.'
Turns out that estimation wasn't far from the money; the Swans picked up just a single point in four games against their promotion partners, whilst knocking off big six sides like Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City. Fortunately, ending the season with a marginally worse record against the lower half of the table over the top half didn't hurt the Swans safety.
Well, that wraps up my 'preseason revisited'. I don't think I made out too badly. Following on from my original blog, I wrote up a piece called 'Survival by numbers', where I argued that the relegation points cut-off for this season wouldn't be the magic 40 most managers aim for, but instead be closer to 37. The 17th place team, QPR, narrowly avoided relegation with... exactly 37 points. Not bad!