3 reasons why Swansea City could be promotion dark-horses in the Championship this season
If there is any team that has taken all sets of fans by surprise with its stellar start to the season in the Championship, it has to be none other than Swansea City.
Indeed, even the most ardent of the club’s followers wouldn’t have hoped for such a positive start to the campaign following multiple setbacks in the summer but the Swans have already laid down an early marker in the Championship.
The departure of former boss Graham Potter to Brighton was deemed to be a massive blow, while the sale of last season’s top-scorer Oliver McBurnie and promising starlet Daniel James in the transfer market depleted the squad of some top-quality attackers.
Swansea’s 1-0 triumph over promotion heavyweights Leeds United at Elland Road last week marked their fifth victory in the opening six rounds of the league, taking Steve Cooper’s side to the top of the table heading into the first international break of the season.
Well, it might be too early to draw a conclusion, considering the punishing schedule of the Championship later on in the season, but Swansea might find themselves in the race for promotion if they manage to capitalise on their impressive start and maintain the desired level of consistency over the entirety of the campaign.
With that in mind, let us take a look at 3 reasons as to why the Welsh outfit could potentially be regarded as promotion dark-horses:-
1. The impressive young brigade
Graham Potter’s proficiency in bringing the best out of the youngsters was instrumental in guiding Swansea to a top-ten finish in the Championship last season and in Steve Cooper, the Swans seem to have found an ideal replacement as a manager with a similar set of skills.
Cooper has not only shown a lot of trust in the existing core of young players at the club, including the likes of Bersant Celina, Yan Dhanda, Goerge Byers, Conor Roberts, Joe Rodon and Matt Grimes but he also brought in emerging talents like Freddie Woodman and Sam Surridge on loan from Newcastle United and Bournemouth earlier in the summer.
Much to the pleasure of the Swansea faithful, all the aforementioned players have already made an impact to varying degrees and Cooper’s ability to inspire the young brigade at the Liberty Stadium has paid rich dividends so far.
To that end though, it remains to be seen whether the young brigade at the Liberty Stadium is formidable enough to weather the challenges put forward by a league as gruelling and punishing as the Championship.
Swansea have a very young squad and Cooper will have to bring his intelligence into play to prevent the lack of depth from being exposed, especially in the latter stages of the campaign when the race for promotion heats up.
2. The resurgence of Borja Baston and Andre Ayew
With both the aforementioned players on loan last season, neither of them seemed to have a future at the Liberty Stadium but Cooper thought otherwise.
Baston was deemed good enough to lead the line for Swansea by new manager Cooper after the Spaniard shined in some of the pre-season fixtures, while Ayew looked poised for an exit all summer, only for Cooper to convince the Ghanaian winger to stay put at the club.
And if the first six games in the Championship are anything to go by, the Swans have already reaped rich rewards from the manager’s masterstroke, with both Baston and Ayew establishing themselves as key components of the attack.
While Ayew’s reinstatement in the first-team fold has enriched Swansea’s wide attacking options with a lot of quality and experience, Baston currently finds himself atop the scoring charts in the Championship, with both the players adapting seamlessly to Cooper’s tactics.
Indeed, Ayew and Baston have a lot of top-level experience under their belt and their presence could be absolutely indispensable to Swansea’s hopes of building a team with the perfect blend of youth and experience.
3. Home form
The Swans won 12 and drew 6 of their 23 fixtures at home in the Championship under Potter last season, meaning that the Swans claimed 42 out of a possible 69 points on offer. That amounts to a success rate of around 60%, which was pretty good as far as the circumstances were concerned.
And things have certainly gone better for the Swans this term since the arrival of Cooper, with the Welsh outfit winning each of their first three fixtures at the Liberty Stadium, thus heading into the international break with a 100% record at home.
One might argue that it is only the beginning of a long and hard slog in the Championship this season but Swansea’s encouraging start to the campaign has definitely had a lot to with their impressive form at home.
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The fans will be hoping that they manage to turn the Liberty Stadium into some kind of a fortress, which is likely to improve their chances of challenging for promotion.