Luke Williams | We need to have the mentality to take a giant step forward

15th May
First team

Luke Williams wants Swansea City to approach the 2024-25 season ready to take a giant step forward in their mindset and ability to reproduce the energy and intensity required throughout a Championship campaign.

The Swans headed into the off-season on the back of an encouraging conclusion to last term following a challenging period.

A four-match unbeaten run – including an entertaining draw at play-off side Norwich City – hinted at the progress being made, and provides optimism ahead of what will be the head coach’s first full season in charge.

The south Wales derby win over Cardiff City was an undoubted highlight of four months Williams had in charge from his January appointment to the end of the season, but the Swans boss wants the blood and thunder his side showed in a high-octane performance to be on display on a far more regular basis next season.

And that starts with mentality.

“I feel like we have a big question mark hanging over us about whether we can reproduce that type of energy and that kind of togetherness week in and week out,” he said. 

“That’s a tough question that has been put forward to the squad. I think they have done a good job of showing us they understood that better in the latter stages of the season. I think we had a blip after the derby game, quite honestly, then I think we returned to something much more aggressive and together. 

South Wales derby huddle

“We need to take a giant step forward and be able to produce that day in and day out, and certainly week in and week out when counting the games.

“This mentality and character, for me, is really crucial over a long, tough Championship campaign. You throw in cup games as well, playing three games a week and the weather; I think we have had more than our fair share of rain in Swansea and the wind can be incredible up here. 

“So, we need the characters that can work through all the different ups and downs of a Championship season. 

“The talent and ability is 50 per cent, the other 50 per cent is the stuff you don’t see with the naked eye, but it’s about that strength of character for sure.”

And Williams admits that finding players with the right character will be an important factor when it comes to Swansea’s summer recruitment plans.

“As we were talking about there, the individuals need to have the strongest character that we can find,” he added. 

“We need to see if we can do as much due diligence as we can on guys who are coming into the club so we know they have the strong mentality.

“Then, a group of players, a squad of players can develop that mentality between them. 

“I think you need critical mass, I think you need just the right amount of guys in there who you know can lead and pull people with them. 

“Then you create a group mentality, and that is very, very difficult to beat once you get to that point.”

Luke Williams Norwich

Williams endured a tough start to his reign with games against the likes of Leicester City, Ipswich Town, Southampton and Leeds United – the Championship’s top four – within weeks of his arrival.

But he believes the learning his side did as they sought to implement a change to their style of play in match situations amidst a hectic schedule ultimately proved beneficial, even though results did not go their way.

From that point Swansea progressed over the final weeks of the campaign, with a number of their attacking and defensive stats over that period being among the best in the division.

And those indicators leave Williams feeling positive about what is ahead, although he is no doubt about how much hard work has yet to be done.

“The numbers don’t lie,” he said. 

“I am so grateful to the players because I asked them to try and put some things into practice against some really top opposition at the beginning of the time we spent together, and I am so grateful because they did that. 

“Even with some bad results we were able to pick out some positives within the performances, which is really tough, and we tried to narrow down our focus on extending the periods of time where we played well. 

“I think the numbers speak for themselves, and we managed to get to a good level of all-round performance defensively and with the ball. 

“I think if we convert more chances we are a better team, we had a run where we conceded from set-pieces, although across the season we were fantastic in that area because we have really good guys like Marge (Martyn Margetson). 

South Wales derby celebration

“So, we have a great advantage like that, and those are the things that are driving me for next season to feel really optimistic.”

While his players will have some time away from the game over the coming weeks, Williams is not looking at taking any time off as he looks to be as involved as he can be in the planning and preparations for next season.

“I don’t feel I quite deserve a holiday, so I am going to continue to work,” he said. 

“The work changes because I don’t have the guys out there on the grass, or in the type of meetings we would have every day, trying to get things in place to improve at the training ground and the processes we go through with training, conditioning and recovery.

“There is going to be some work going on to make sure we are in a good place, and plenty of work going on looking at potential targets coming to the club, and that’s probably the most time-consuming part at this point. 

“But I think being present, first and foremost, and not missing an opportunity, not missing a moment…I am going to try and cover as many bases as possible over the summer so we can come back in the best place we can be.”