Jack Cork: Leon Britton's long term replacement?
It’s fair to say that Jack Cork’s move from Southampton to Swansea was one of the less high profile transfers of this seasons winter window.
The 25-year-old was reluctant to sign a new contract with The Saints after finding himself out of favour with new boss Ronald Koeman.
Acknowledging that his involvement with the first team could be limited at Southampton, Cork swapped St. Mary’s for South Wales and hasn’t looked back since.
Jack Cork is everything you’d expect to find in a modern Swansea midfielder. He is a tidy footballer who very rarely concedes possession; using the ball wisely and never overplaying a situation.
Cork, who made over 100 appearances for Southampton, has certainly found himself right at home in a Swansea midfield trio along side Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-Yueng and seems to be instantly thriving after being given a new lease of life.
Swansea’s ideologies in recent times have been based around a possession dominated, free flowing passing approach and Cork seems to be embodying this trend perfectly.
Roberto Martinez initiated this style as he guided the club from League 1 to the Championship in 2008. Paulo Sousa then continued the trend before Brendan Rodgers famously guided The Swans to the Premier League in 2011.
Since Rodgers’ departure to Liverpool, Michael Laudrup and current manager Gary Monk have continued to build on the success of previous manager’s customs, tweaking and fine tuning the philosophies laid down for them by their predecessors.
One player who has been at the centre of Swansea’s recent rise through the divisions is long serving midfielder Leon Britton. Since Cork’s arrival, Britton has found himself sitting on the bench for the majority of games; a testament to how well Cork has begun his Swansea career.
When Monk signed Cork – for what is now looking to be a bargain £3million – he most likely would not have envisaged him as being a short term or long term successor to the Swansea legend.
However, with Britton’s career coming to an end and Cork’s appearing to be somewhere near it’s peak, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to predict that Cork could take over the reigns at the heart of Swansea City’s midfield for the remainder of this season and many seasons to come.
Cork’s work rate is another noticeable attribute. This was shown most prominently with an extremely efficient performance in his sides 2-1 home victory over Manchester United. He nullified Marouane Fellaini’s involvement in the game and gained great recognition from fans and pundits alike.
If there is one thing Swansea fans would point out in Britton’s game, it would probably be his lack of work rate. Keeping the ball is one thing, but working tirelessly off the ball is something that Cork can provide week in, week out and is something that supporters love to see.
Cork’s form never really fluctuates and he is persistently dependable; always looking to give his all. Britton on the other hand, will often have a few quiet games in-between a stand out performance.
The addition of Jack Cork has really bolstered Garry Monk’s choice of midfielders. Regular starters such as Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Routledge and on-loan Tottenham youngster Tom Carroll will all be striving that extra inch to be named in the starting eleven, which can only be healthy competition for the squad.
Swansea City currently sit in 8th place in the Premier League. If Jack Cork continues to show the kind of form which has already made him one of the first names on the team sheet at The Liberty, the South Wales side will be well on their way to cementing a best ever Premier League finish.
With Cork seemingly improving with every game he plays for The Swans, it’s hard to see how he will loose his place in the side any time soon. Does he have what it takes to be the long term replacement for the ageing Leon Britton? It seems like a match made in heaven.