Graham Potter has explained how Matt Grimes’ intelligence on the ball played a part in the decision to use the midfielder in the heart of the Swansea City defence.
The Swans sprung a surprise against Manchester City in the FA Cup when, after a few minutes of play, Grimes slotted in alongside Mike van der Hoorn as Cameron Carter-Vickers moved to the left flank.
It proved effective, with Grimes - who has played at left-back at times this season - able to help the Swans build their play from the back, and it played a role in the lead-up to Bersant Celina’s stunning second for the hosts.
Standing at 5ft 10in, Grimes does not have the height one would normally associate with a central defender, but the likes of Javier Mascherano have played in that position despite a more diminutive stature.
And manager Potter felt the importance of Grimes’ composure in dictating Swansea’s play meant the move was one that was worth pursuing, and it was a move City boss Pep Guardiola mentioned in his post-match press conference.
“It was just how we wanted to build up and we felt having a right footer and left footer in that part of the pitch would help us,” said Potter.
“Manchester City play with one striker, and we felt we could commit another man into the press if we had someone who could bring the ball out into that right-sided pocket.
“It made sense for Matt to be that player. City don’t t throw balls into the box so he was not going to be asked to do traditional centre-back things.
“He is intelligent, he reads the game well so I had no problem putting him in there, particularly as when he plays in midfield he normally ends up in those positions with the ball for us.”