Connect with us

English Premier League

Swansea Set For European Adventure

The Boot Room

Published

on

Swansea‘s brand of pass and move football has proved so successful against their British opponents that they now have the chance to display it on the European stage. The Welsh club’s convincing Capital One Cup success enables them to join the Europa League at the 3rd Qualifying Stage, where they will face Swedish club Malmo FF.

Swans’ fans can be forgiven for just being excited about the opportunity being presented to them; a chance to travel Europe with the potential to play the likes of Feyenoord, Fiorentina or Sevilla, as well as the teams who drop down from the UCL. Not bad for a team who were playing in the English 4th tier less than 10 years earlier. But how far can they expect to go in the tournament?

I would think most fans would be expecting Swansea to at least make the group stage, and then see if they can progress to the knockout stages. However taking into account: the squad, the manager and the incredible atmosphere that can be generated at The Liberty Stadium, I believe Swansea should be looking at the recent successes of Newcastle, Fulham and Middlesborough as a benchmark for British clubs in the Europa League without the financial power of Chelsea or Tottenham. This is why, for me, the quarter-finals and even the semi-finals are realistic targets for Swansea.

Michael Laudrup appears to be doing a brilliant job at creating, not just a team, but a squad that reflects him and his playing style. Having already created a very impressive team, this summer Laudrup has clearly identified the need to add depth to the squad; the signings of Jonjo Shelvey, Alejandro Pozuelo and Jordi Amat help this as well as add competition for places. As well as the need for extra numbers, Laudrup also acquired defensive midfielder José Cañas on a free from Real Betis in order to ensure his midfield can be as effective defensively as offensively. The new additions to the squad this summer give the Swansea squad, not only depth, but also flexibility; Laudrup spent most of last season playing a 4-3-3 formation but the singings, in particular of Shelvey and Pozuelo, allow Laudrup to mix it up and possibly switch every now and then to a 4-2-3-1, 4-2-2-2, 4-4-1-1 or even 3 at the back (Williams, Chico, Amat/Ki) allowing for Swansea to further outnumber opponents in the middle of the pitch.

Variation and unpredictability can make or break a squad depending on balance; too much variation can lead to a team that can’t play with each other. A big variation in the Swansea squad comes in the form of a club record signing – Ivorian forward, Wilfried Bony. Bony’s playing style slightly differs from his teammates but could be huge for Swansea’s European adventure: his power, movement and finishing ability are all attributes needed to be a top number 9. The way Laudrup uses Bony and Michu could be key to their season both domestically and continentally; if the two can click and create a fearsome partnership, then this awesome frontline could be the difference maker over the course of the season.

Something that Swansea will have to overcome is their lack of experience in Europe with only a Pablo, Bony and Shelvey with over 10 appearances in European competitions. A lack of experience however can breed a sense of fearlessness depending on the character of the player and more importantly the character of the manager. Michael Laudrup was one of most accomplished footballers of his generation and oozes class, composure and confidence; when you’ve got a manager as respected as Laudrup that resonates with the players and leads to the players taking everything he says on board. Laudrup’s big game experience will allow him to communicate with his players in a way that can prepare them for the big European games. This is what leads me to believe that the lack of experience in the squad won’t be as big of an issue if Swansea play some of the bigger clubs in the competition, like it did when Stoke took on Valencia in the 2nd round of the 2011/12 Europa League.

The last factor could be a big difference maker in the latter stages; we all heard how the fans reacted to getting into the Premier League with some incredible performances, lifting the team to some huge home victories over Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool and draws against Chelsea and Tottenham in their first season. No doubt The Liberty will be rocking on a European night and could surprise and even overwhelm some of their foreign visitors.

It’s obvious to people that Swansea are on the up and having kept hold of Michael Laudrup, for now, are a team that nobody should underestimate. Their way of playing is not only aesthetically pleasing but also extremely effective when it all comes together; the new singings add to the squad not just quality and depth but also fit in with the philosophy of the club. And it’s that philosophy, which has been progressing since the appointment of Roberto Martinez in 2007, that makes Swansea more equipped to take on Europe than some of the other British clubs that have challenged the Europa League over the last few years.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

West Ham United

Marlon Santos joining West Ham would be ideal solution to defensive woes

Published

on

Photo: Getty Images.

There will be a summer of change at West Ham United this summer and with James Collins leaving the club there will be a spot opening up in defence. Reports from Spain indicate that the man to fill it could be Barcelona youngster Marlon Santos.

The Brazilian joined the Spanish giants permanently last summer after impressing for their B team and earning a first team debut in 2016/17 and spent pre-season with Ernesto Valverde’s first team before being sent out on loan.

Now, reliable Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo say that West Ham are interested in taking the defender on loan next season after he has impressed in France, playing for OGC Nice, making 27 appearances during his loan spell.

(Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old has also been linked with Leicester but with West Ham believed to be leading the chase, it would be a wise move from Manuel Pellegrini to seal a deal as soon as possible.

Strong in the tackle, Santos would also bring some much needed pace to the West Ham defence. Replacing the likes of Collins and Jose Fonte who departed in January, the arrival of a fleet-footed defender would be a welcome turnaround at the London Stadium.

It may also suggest a change in style, with the former Fluminense youth product known for his ability on the ball, often looking to dribble out from the back to get his team transitioning from defence to attack.

Pellegrini is clearly putting the building blocks in place to build a side in his own image, and bringing in Marlon Santos would be a cheap and sensible addition to fix a major problem area.

Continue Reading

Tottenham Hotspur

Malcom would add another dimension to Tottenham’s attack

Published

on

Photo: Getty Images.

After an impressive 2017/18 campaign, Tottenham are already beginning to plan for 2018/19 and are keen to make a statement in their first season in a new look White Hart Lane. One way they may do so is with the addition of Girondins Bordeaux forward Malcom.

Sky Bet currently list Tottenham at 7/2 to sign the Brazilian, just behind favourites Manchester United in the running at 3/1, and such an acquisition would bring an exciting new element to Mauricio Pochettino‘s attacking set-up.

Predominantly playing on the right wing, Malcom may offer more width than many of the options within the Tottenham squad, but much like Heung-Min Son and Erik Lamela, he likes to dribble on the ball and cut inside, offering a direct threat rather than looking to cross into others.

The 21-year-old scored 12 goals in 35 Ligue Un games for Bordeaux this season and whilst not exactly prolific, would help to add goals to the Lilywhites’ midfield and reduce the reliance on Harry Kane.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

He also has some similarities to the likes of Christian Eriksen as a superb set piece taker who likes to shoot from distance, helping to add another dimension as Tottenham look to break down more defensive sides who sit deep in hope of frustrating them.

With huge potential to develop even further, Malcom may not come cheaply but would represent an interesting project for Pochettino to get even more out of him. Whilst he bares many similarities to Erik Lamela when he arrived in north London, if he can avoid injury he could go on to become the player Spurs had hoped to see Lamela become.

His pace and threat would add a much needed option into the Spurs attack, complimenting the playmakers like Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura and supporting the goalgetter Harry Kane. Strength in depth is key in Tottenham’s quest for silverware and Malcom would be a step in the right direction to achieving it.

Continue Reading

Newcastle United

Fulham promotion opens up £15m exit for Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Newcastle United star is likely to move away from the club this summer.

Mathew Coull

Published

on

Fulham won promotion to the Premier League yesterday with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final. The Cottagers scored in the first-half through Tom Cairney to rightfully take their place back in the top-flight of English football.

It was a tremendous performance and in the summer Fulham will be looking to bring in some new faces to help them stay in the top-flight. One of those faces, will not be necessarily new. Aleksandar Mitrovic has been brilliant for Fulham since joining on loan in January.

The Serbian striker has scored 12 goals since his arrival at Craven Cottage and will no doubt be wanted permanently at the club.

Is this good news for Newcastle United?

There has been plenty of talk regarding the Serbian’s exit from St James’ Park in the winter. Many fans on Tyneside are wondering whether the club should have kept him at Newcastle, considering his goal record in London.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St. James Park on November 25, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

However, it is clear that Rafa Benitez is not a fan of the player and the Spaniard certainly made things work without him.

The best thing for Newcastle right now is to sell him and ensure they bring in enough money to cover the cost of his original signing.

Fulham represent their best option to do so. Newcastle want about £15 million for the player, according to the London Evening Standard, which is the fee they paid for the Serbian in 2015.

Fulham will no doubt want to bring him to the club this summer, but would not have been able to bring him to the club had they failed to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The Cottagers can now afford the player and Mitrovic’s price-tag is unlikely to be a problem with the bonus they will receive for heading into the top-flight. Newcastle must be pleased that Fulham earned promotion, as it will allow them the best opportunity to move Mitrovic on without a major loss.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2018 The Boot Room.