THE BIG INTERVIEW: Jack Cork
13th February 2016
A year on from making his move to Swansea City, Jack Cork is feeling settled both on and off the pitch in South Wales.
He is a regular in the Swans first-team line-up, has bought a house just around the corner from where his father and former Swansea boss Alan Cork once lived, and he enjoys the calm and eloquent coastal life that the beautiful Gower Peninsula has to offer.
When he made his move from the South East of England to the South West of Wales, Cork wanted to move to a place where he could lay down some roots.
"When I signed for the club, I didn't want to keep moving around," says Cork, speaking to Jack Magazine at the Liberty Stadium. "I want to be settled in a place with my family, and I feel like this is a good place to be.
"Swansea are a family-orientated club and the fans are great. It's a really nice, quiet place and, off the field, everything is good. My wife has got to know some of the girls, which has helped her settle as well.
"Langland Bay is a really nice area to live, and I enjoy taking my boy down to the beach. It's a great place to bring up my family.
"I see a lot of the boys away from the training ground too. It helps having kids because it makes us do stuff together and get them out of the house. We have a group on Whatsapp too, so everyone gets on really well."
Cork lives with his young family - his wife Freya and two-year-old son Arlo - in Langland, one of the jewels of the Gower coastline, and there is soon to be a new addition to the Cork household.
"My family are really settled here now, and I have another boy on the way," adds the 26-year-old midfielder. "It's an exciting time, but I'm sure I won't get much sleep during the first few months.
"But I'll have a little Welsh boy, so hopefully if he plays football, I can help get him a few caps for Wales!"
Cork, who hails from Carshalton in London, began his career at Chelsea, where he captained the Blues' youth and reserve sides. He gained first-team experience out on loan at Bournemouth, Scunthorpe United, Watford, Coventry City, Burnley and Southampton, before joining today's opponents Southampton on a permanent basis in 2011.
After three successful years at St. Mary's, Cork departed for Swansea in January 2015 and immediately became a mainstay in Garry Monk's side that achieved the club's highest points total since promotion to the Barclays Premier League in 2010-11. But his first year in SA1 hasn't all been plain sailing for the English midfielder.
"It's been mixed," admits Cork. "We had a great end to the season last year and broke the record points total, finishing eighth - our highest finish in the Premier League.
"But this season has been a complete contrast. We started the season well but struggled from there. It's been strange.
"Garry (Monk) brought me to the club and I had a lot of contact with him whilst he was here. Unfortunately, this season hasn't gone so well and you question whether, personally, you could have done more to help.
"Curt came in and now Francesco has arrived. Sometimes it is good to have that change. Everyone is trying to impress the new manager to try and cement their place in the team, and we've seen an upturn in results.
"Hopefully after the recent results, we can kick on and push up the table."
Despite the difficulties of the current campaign, Cork is still relishing every moment of his time in the white of Swansea City.
"I'm really enjoying it," beams Cork. "It's football, so how can you not enjoy it? It's only a short career, so you have to enjoy every moment.
"It's obviously a lot tougher being lower down in the table, but it's a good challenge for myself and my teammates. We need to try and get out of the situation we find ourselves in.
"Some people say it's boring being mid-table, but I would much prefer last season over this one. But we are very focused. There is a lot at stake and we have to perform.
"When there's a lot of pressure on the team, you become aware of things outside of your control, like what's being written in the papers and what's being said by pundits, when you shouldn't be.
"It's amazing what a few wins can do for confidence - you can see the difference around the training ground. The confidence is coming back."
Following victories over Watford and Everton and recent draws against West Brom and Crystal Palace, the Swans are now unbeaten in four games, with new head coach Guidolin overseeing an instant upturn in results since taking over the reigns last month.
The Italian has brought a wealth of experience and tactical nous to the Swans, having enjoyed a managerial career spanning across three decades.
"He's not had too much time to work with us yet, but he's kept his meetings brief and hasn't overcomplicated things for us," says Cork. "He wants us to enjoy our football while playing with intensity and putting a lot of pressure on our opponents. That's three brief points, but it tells you a lot about him and how he likes to play.
"You can see from the Everton game - his first game in charge - how he wanted us to set up. He wanted us to press high in the first half, but in the second he wanted us to stay compact. It was a different type of match in that second half, but we showed both sides to our game."
Cork and the Swans will be hoping that they go one further and stretch their unbeaten run to five games this afternoon when they host Southampton at the Liberty.
The English midfielder, who has been capped internationally at every age group up to Under-21 level, has fond memories of his time at St. Mary's but is hoping for an improvement in fortunes against his former club.
"I loved that club," adds Cork. "I've got some great memories form my time there.
"I think every season had something different about it. During the first year we got promoted, then we stayed up and finished higher and higher again the following two seasons.
"It was a good club to be involved with. I made a lot of good friends there and the fans were great with me, so I have nothing but good things to say about the club.
"I will send a few texts to some of the players there, but my main aim is to get a different result to what it was last year. It was disappointing to go back there and lose convincingly.
"We know it will be a tough game. They have some good players and a great squad. The team is looking strong at the moment and, much like last season, they've had a solid season so far."