Swansea City's season a big step forward, says Mike van der Hoorn
Mike van der Hoorn believes Swansea City have taken a big step forward under Steve Cooper, and can be proud of their efforts in the 2019-20 season.
The Swans went close to reaching the Championship play-off final in Cooper’s first year as head coach in senior football, with a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Brentford on Wednesday night seeing them miss out on a trip to Wembley.
Their place in the play-offs came after a late surge of form following the resumption of football after the coronavirus outbreak, with a dramatic 4-1 victory at Reading – along with Nottingham Forest’s loss to Stoke by the same scoreline – seeing them book their place in the top six in the final moments of the regular campaign.
A 1-0 win over Brentford gave them a slender lead going into the return leg at Griffin Park, but the Bees won 3-1 to ensure they will head to Wembley with a place in the Premier League up for grabs.
However, van der Hoorn feels the team should feel proud of their efforts after a positive campaign under Cooper.
“The club is moving forward,” said the Dutchman, who made 31 appearances this season, scoring once.
“We can definitely be proud. It’s hard to feel that way now, especially because it was so close, but the boys should keep their heads high.
"We have made strides forward from last season, we've improved, so that's a positive thing for us."
Ollie Watkins fired the Bees ahead after 11 minutes before Emiliano Marcondes headed them into a 2-0 lead on the night shortly after.
Bryan Mbuemo struck inside the opening minute of the second half to extend their lead further, though loanee Rhian Brewster gave the Swans hope with a neat lob late on.
However, the late surge failed to conjure another dramatic finish as the hosts bid farewell to Griffin Park on a winning note.
“We said not to concede early, but we did. The first goal was from our free-kick and all of a sudden, the ball was in the back of the net,” added van der Hoorn.
“We just fell short. Overall, nobody expected us to be in the play-offs. Winning the first game gave us so much hope but in the second leg it wasn’t meant to be.”