Pointing the way

8th September 2018
First team

As Graham Potter takes stock during the first international break of 2018-19, he will surely be content with what he sees.

After all, history suggests that Swansea City’s current crop are going along nicely.

The Swans have reached the opening landmark in their campaign with 11 points on the board from half-a-dozen Championship matches.

That is only good enough for seventh place in the early-season league table.

And that is mildly surprising when you consider the Swans are not far short of taking two points per game, which is traditionally regarded as a return which will deliver automatic promotion.

For what it’s worth, the Swans are currently averaging 1.83 points per Championship fixture.

Were they to maintain that form throughout the season ahead, they would finish with 84 points.

In years gone by, that tally would have meant a certain play-off place and possibly even a spot in the top two.

And given the huge turnover of players at the Liberty Stadium over the summer, coupled with the psychological blow that came with relegation from the Premier League, it is to the Swans’ great credit that they have been able to start the new season with such promise.

Potter reckons his team’s form is the result of a blend of character and hard work, among the players and the staff who work with them each day.

There has been no shortage of quality, either, with Potter’s young side producing some fabulous football at times during the season’s opening month.

These are still early days in the long slog that is a Championship campaign, but the Swans can take heart from what they have done so far.

The tally of 11 points looks more than respectable when compared to what the Swans have managed in years gone by.

This is the 38th season in English football in which a win has been worth three points.

And in only six of the previous 37 campaigns have the Swans had more points after six league games than they have right now.

Their best return at the same stage was 13 points, which was achieved in 1986-87 under Terry Yorath.

But though they began that Division Four campaign spectacularly, the Swans fell away and ended up finishing 12th.

On five other occasions, the Swans have taken 12 points from the first six league games of a season.

That happened most recently in 2005-06, the club’s first year at the Liberty Stadium, which ended with a trip to the League One play-off final.

Brian Flynn’s team banked 12 points from six games at the start of 2003-04, when Lee Trundle was introducing himself to the Jack Army in style.

However, Flynn’s side stuttered as the season went on and finished up 10th in the bottom division.

There was a happier ending in 1999-2000, when John Hollins’s Swans started well and continued in the same vein all the way through until May, when they were crowned Division Three champions.

In 1992-93, Frank Burrows steered the Swans to a dozen points from their opening six games in a season which would end in play-off defeat to West Brom.

And in 1981-82, John Toshack’s Swans side turned heads throughout the season having started by taking 12 points from their opening six First Division matches.

They ended up sixth in the top flight, which remains the club’s best league finish.

So how will this season unfold? Past experiences suggest Potter’s Swans could be on to something good, but also serve as a reminder that nothing has been achieved yet.

“To take 11 points in our first six games is fantastic,” reckons Oli McBurnie, one of the stars of the Swans’ season so far.

“What we have done is testament to the management and players.

“If you look at the boys who have come into the team, everyone is ready to fight.

“There are lads who have waited a long time for their opportunity and now they are taking it.”

And now the challenge is to keep this form going.

But certainly, the early signs are good.