Chico hoping for more success
10th November 2013
Chico Flores insists there could yet be another successful season on the horizon at the Liberty Stadium.
The Swans have experienced some indifferent form of late, having won just once in their last five outings.
That victory, a 4-0 success over Sunderland, was the club's first home league win of the campaign.
And following a goalless draw at home against West Ham recently, the Swans will be looking to get their season back on track against Stoke City this afternoon.
But Chico is adamant that despite a patchy opening few months, Michael Laudrup's men have what it takes to have another historic season in the top flight.
"I think that the team has been playing well," said the defender, via an interpreter. "At the beginning we did not have a brilliant start but we had some really tough fixtures.
"Now all the games that we are playing in we are getting points from and that is all we need to do. I think we need be realistic and our main goal is to remain in the Premier League.
"We are all ambitious - we all want to be in the top ten if we can - but we have to remember where the club came from.
"I think that when we play well, we are one of the best footballing teams in the Premier League. But even though last year we won the cup and we had some really good achievements, we have to be realistic.
"We are a modest team and we have to work to stay in the Premier League. We have not had a great start to this season, but we have to remember where we came from. We should not worry."
Chico has proved a big hit since his arrival from Genoa back in the summer of 2012 and is a firm favourite with the Jack Army.
His 32 appearances last season helped the Swans finish in the top half of the Premier League and deliver a first major trophy in the club's history.
And following a tough start to life in England - including an infamous red card against Sunderland in the third game of last season - he feels as though he has adapted well to life in the Premier League.
"Last year I was unlucky," says Chico, reflecting on that dismissal against the Black Cats. "It was a 50-50 ball that I thought I was going to get to in time but unfortunately it did not happen and I got a red card.
"But I feel I have adapted to Swansea as a whole since I arrived here. The club, the players and the fans made me feel at home from the day I joined.
"I have learned a lot from both La Liga and the Premier League - they are two very different leagues.
"In Spain, it is all about ball possession, and fortunately we played a very similar way here at Swansea. The difference with England is that over here it is much more physical and very fast - both in attack and defence - and it requires the players to be in very good physical condition."
And the Swans are sure to be in for another test of their physicality this afternoon as Stoke arrive in SA1.
The Potters have long been seen as a tough nut to crack both home and away, but under the guidance of Mark Hughes, the former Wales boss has tried to implement a fresh new approach at the Britannia Stadium.
They arrive in south west Wales sitting just one place outside the drop zone at the time of writing - and Chico knows that the hosts are in for another tough afternoon.
But the defender is hoping that Laudrup's side can produce a similar performance to the corresponding fixture last season when Swansea secured a 3-1 win.
"Stoke have very similar characteristics to West Ham," he said. "They are physically very strong and defend well. As a defender I always try to study the strikers who I am going to play against.
"It is very difficult against tall players like Peter Crouch to try and steal the aerial balls from him. We have to be clever and always be next to him to anticipate anything.
"Tall players play different to shorter ones, but ultimately it doesn't matter who we are up against. We will be doing our best to stop them.
"Last year they beat us 2-0 away from home because they were playing with lots of long passes and aerial balls into the penalty area.
"However, when they came to the Liberty we displayed a different game with lots of short and fast passes that made it difficult for them. This time we will try the same because it is our way of playing football."
Last season saw Chico form a strong defensive partnership with Ashley Williams before injury ruled him out of the Capital One Cup final back in February.
The former Mallorca man started the campaign alongside the skipper once more, but fixture congestion and injury has meant that summer signing Jordi Amat has often been preferred.
"I think both of them are really good players," said Chico. "Ashley is very important at this club; he is great player, person and colleague. Also, I work very well with him.
"We both learn from each other and have different skills that work well together. He is a great player and for me it is always a pleasure to play next to him.
"Jordi is also a great person. He arrived this year and has settled down very quickly. The games that he has played in he has done very well. He is a young, but very confident and is a wonderful asset for the squad."
Meanwhile, Chico revealed recently that while his English wasn't quite up to speed just yet, his history lessons had been going well.
"Myself, Michu and Pablo (Hernandez) all did some research on the club before we came here," he revealed.
"We know about the history. We know Swansea had some big problems ten years ago and we know the fans own a big percentage of the club.
"We know Swansea are a modest club - even last season, we were training in a public gym alongside the fans. But modest teams can still play good football. That is what we do."
But it is charming life off the pitch that attracts just as much attention.
Chico can often been seen signing autographs outside the training ground and Liberty Stadium and posing for photos with fans both young and old.
And he admits that he has fallen in love with his life by the sea.
"I've always said that since I came here I feel as though I belong to Swansea," he said with a smile.
"The people here made me adapt and feel at home very quickly. The players, coaches, fans, everyone treats me very well. I try to give it back every time that I go into the pitch.
"Swansea is very relaxing city and I love it very much. I am struggling with the language because it is hard for me, but I am trying my best. Swansea is definitely my home now."