Leon looking to finish season strongly
8th April 2016
Swansea City and Leon Britton share the same objectives as the Barclays Premier League approaches its final six games.
It proved a frustrating first half of the campaign for both club and player, with the Swans sitting just two points above the relegation zone at the halfway stage.
Britton, too, had an indifferent start to the season, finding himself down the midfield pecking order as he made just three substitute appearances in the first 11 games, while his first start didn't arrive until late November.
Fortunes of player and club started to mirror each other, though, as the season progressed.
The Swans host Chelsea on Saturday with a ten-point gap between themselves and third-bottom Sunderland, who have a game in hand.
Britton is also in a far better position than he found himself in the early stages of the season, having played in 21 of the 32 league games.
And now the 33-year-old hopes to finish the season strongly on both a personal and club level - starting with Chelsea's visit to the Liberty.
"We are not completely safe but two or three points should be enough for us," said the midfielder, who has clocked up over 500 appearances for the Swans.
"But we are looking at the teams above and saying 'okay, let's track them down and see if we can finish higher than them' rather than looking over our shoulder.
"If we did this interview six weeks ago then we would be talking very differently - I'd be talking about how we needed to create a gap between us and everyone below us.
"I have always been confident that we would get ourselves out of the battle against relegation. We didn't want to go into the last couple of games not knowing if we would be safe.
"But the manager has come in and steadied the ship.
"With the points we have got, we can relax a bit more on the pitch. That's not to say we're not giving 100 per cent effort, it's more about the pressure and how that can affect you in the game."
He added: "I guess my season has been similar to that of the team.
"It has been a strange year for me. At the start I was not in the team or even the squad.
"Of course, I understand managers have their own ideas and Garry (Monk) did what he felt was right for the team.
"There was talk about my future being elsewhere, but since Alan Curtis took over temporarily and then Francesco (Guidolin) was appointed I've been playing a lot more.
"It's been important this year for the senior players like Ash (Williams), Angel (Rangel) and myself to step up. We can help settle things down a bit, particularly when things haven't gone as well as we would have liked on the pitch.
"But as footballers you have to learn from every situation you're in. If you do well, then look at the reasons behind that. Likewise when you aren't doing well.
"We have a very tightknit club. The club, the fans, the players, the staff, the board - everyone is together.
"But, in a way, this season has brought us together even more as a squad. You look around the changing room and everyone is determined to do well and help the club move up the table.
"It's like that in any office or work environment - everyone must push in the right direction.
"In football, every team will have a season in which they haven't hit the heights they expected to. But we will learn from it to ensure we aren't in the same situation next season."
The Swans target a first ever Premier League victory over Chelsea on Saturday.
On the opening day of the campaign, the Swans claimed a point from a thrilling 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge thanks to a debut goal from Andre Ayew and a Bafe Gomis penalty.
This week, Chelsea confirmed current Italy boss Antonio Conte will be their manager for next season as he takes over from Guus Hiddink, who is in charge for the remainder of the campaign.
And Britton believes the Swans will face a Blues side determined to impress their incoming boss.
"When we play Chelsea we know we are going up against top-class players," he added.
"Of course, they have just appointed a new manager for next season and their current players will want to show him that they have a future at Chelsea.
"It has that effect on players when they know a new manager is coming in.
"But we won't concern ourselves with that. We know how tough a game it is, and how important it is to us.
"A victory could send us up four places to 11th, and that would be a big boost going into the final few games."
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