ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Swansea City
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Swansea City
Posted by Max Hicks on 08/05/2012

The Swans finished their pre-season tour of the United States with a win, a draw and a loss. The results might not have been much to write home about, but the tour has given new boss Michael Laudrup plenty of opportunity to evaluate the players.

With three new players signed already, talk of contraction in the squad and Liverpool sniffing around the Liberty like a pushy old lady in the reduced section of Tesco, it seems pretty certain more change will come before the season opener.

Most of the focus has understandably been on the Swans players involved in the Olympics. The Joe Allen saga continues to lurch forward with all the sinister implication and inevitable heartbreak of a significant other saying 'we need to talk'. Of course, I can't remember getting fifteen million quid the last time someone broke up with me, so it's not all bad.

Allen aside, initial talk was how a strong Olympics showing from Scott Sinclair would raise his stock a bit and allow the Swans to sell high in light of the player's reported reluctance to sign a new contract. Of course, the same kind of reporting had Neil Taylor leaving Swansea for Newcastle this time last year, and look what came of that. Sinclair has since gone on to suggest that he is very excited to be working with Michael Laudrup and will be looking to hash out new terms shortly.

Which brings us to Neil Taylor himself. Taylor had a solid Olympics and is now the talk of the town - or the red half of Manchester anyway, having apparently been highlighted as cover for (and eventual successor to) ageing rogue Patrice Evra.

And that's not all. Ash Williams name is all over the transfer gossip column as a potential replacement for Daniel Agger at Liverpool, though I'd take this one with a pinch of purely fictitious salt. Brendan Rodgers poaching of Joe Allen has only been made possible by the ex-Swans boss prior knowledge of the minimum fee release clause in Allen's contract, and the figure involved is sufficiently high to give Swans chairman Huw Jenkins enough pause for thought to overlook the contractual agreement between the clubs prohibiting Liverpool from signing Swans players for the next year.

Besides, Liverpool are a big club with some money; there's no logic behind Rodgers' specifically targeting Swans players when the club could target pretty much all but the absolute elite of world football. Allen is a special case because he ended last season actually among the absolute elite of world football (statistically, as did TV advert star Leon Britton, but Allen has youth and pace on his side). Allen apart, however, there's just no sense to Rodgers' implied blind spot to anyone not wearing Swans white.

My expectation is that Allen goes to Liverpool, whilst Williams, Sinclair and Taylor all stay. Sinclair and Taylor might have impressed at the Olympics, but both have only reached that level playing on a side which allows them a lot of game time and which plays a system they both thrive in. It seems too early for either player (especially Taylor) to be moving on. However, if Sinclair and Taylor do leave, the Swans are going to look awfully thin on the left flank...

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Posted by Will Willows on 08/07/2012

Why not ask for Jordan Henderson and the release cash. Henderson would benefit from being out of Anfield all together. Maybe poach Carroll on a 6 month loan at half-wages.

That's a bit ambitious, since Henderson cost the Reds more than Allen will! Purely on price alone, a one-for-one swap with no cash would be equitable on paper, but Allen's certainly the better player, at least at the moment, so I can understand the Henderson plus cash idea - not least because he's got to be asking where he fits in to Rodgers' plans should Allen join. On the wing?

The latest rumour has Liverpool finally trumping up the entire £15 million release clause anyway, which makes the addition of any sweeteners (such as loan players) unnecessary, which is a shame because I quite liked the idea of Jonjo Shelvey for a season. M

Posted by Dj Alex on 08/09/2012

thoughtful piece, thanks for the coverage. I'm pretty confident about the upcoming season, even if we lose Taylor too. Laudrup will be able to replace him.

Thank you. Yes, I also feel positive about the upcoming season. I think in Laudrup the Swans have a manager with a very deep well of contacts - he's been at the top of the game for thirty years - which will allow the team to find quality replacements at any position should first team players move on. M

Posted by Peter on 08/10/2012

While giving Rodgers the credit he deserves for bringing the team back up his recent behavior has been disgraceful and clearly dimwitted as well...

for one thing he's been trying to do his best to steal any decent player Swansea has despite the clause he had signed (he's definitely a backstabber)

and for seconds, he's starting to look like a complete idiot as well... I mean I loved Swansea's play last year, but let's face it, they finished the season lower mid-table.... does he really think he can bring Liverpool to glory by poaching the players of a mid-table team?

The Liverpool owners chose a coach who obviously doesn't know any players outside the ones on his ex-team, never mind international players (ultimately the ones that make or break a team since the local talent isn't exactly stellar these days in Britain)


it will be fun to see the backstabber fall flat on his face next year as he's clearly out of his depth.... I bet he gets fired by Xmas (if not earlier)

You're not subtle in your appreciation of Rodgers transfer strategy, but you make a fair point. When he was with the Swans, it made sense for him to use his Chelsea contacts to help a lower level team. But as you've said, the idea doesn't really work in reverse - I'm not sure how Liverpool supporters feel about the Swans suddenly becoming a parent club for them.

Rodgers is being forced to overpay for Joe Allen, as activating Allens' release clause is the only way he can circumvent the 'agreement' he made with Huw Jenkins. For Liverpool fans, after the Henderson and Downing extortion of last year, this can hardly come as a welcome move. They won't have the affection for Allen which Swans fans do, and will likely just see fifteen million more reasons why Liverpool don't really need another central midfielder.

What's more ironic is that it is likely the Swans will use the Allen money to pursue (and hopefully secure) the signing of Bolton's Mark Davies, who is (with all due respect to Joe Allen) the player Joe Allen will develop into. If that happens, I think the Swans win in this transfer scenario - replacing Allen with a like (if not better) player and pocketing a sizeable amount of change in the process. Cheers, Brendan.

Of course, the Davies link is just a rumour at present, but even without Davies, the Swans already have Jonathan de Guzman, who is hardly lightweight. I think you are right to suspect Rodgers' contact book might be on the thin side to say the least, and I wonder where he'll look next. Even Fabio Borini, his other signing this summer, was an ex-Chelsea player who blossomed at Swansea, eh? M.

Posted by Peter on 08/10/2012

Hi Max, I just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful response to my comments...

You are right, I am not being subtle, because while I'm not exactly a Swansea supporter I've sympathized with their fortunes since watching them play in the top flight when I was a child (and vaguely remember talented players like Latchford and Robbie James from those days, I'm actually from Canada but I lived in England a couple of years when I was a kid)

Anyways, hopefully things will work out for Swansea, and I know DeGuzman well since he was born in Canada as well (his elder brother is a mainstay for the Canadian national team and plays for Toronto)... he is a talented midfielder and I do think he was a good acquisition, so overall I'm optimistic about Swansea's fortunes, but as you know I don't think Rodgers will fare as well, we'll see what happens I guess.
Take care, and if you ever visit Vancouver, BC, Canada, I'd be happy to buy you a drink.

I'll be only too glad to take you up on that offer should I ever find myself in your part of the world, cheers! I'm glad you mentioned de Guzman - from what I've seen, he's an excellent player, but seems to be the forgotten man already in several pre-season reviews I've read of the Swans, with most pundits choosing instead to concentrate on how devastating losing Joe Allen will be.

I don't agree with the consensus (there'll be a new blog from me on the subject shortly), and I'm excited by de Guzman, who I am assuming can step right into Allen's first eleven spot, barring a successful bid for Bolton's Mark Davies, which might see Laudrup employ more of a midfield rotation instead.

Also, it's nice to hear some praise for Bob Latchford and Robbie James. My favourite part of the Liberty Stadium is the bronze face of Robbie James next to the ticket office... M

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