Taking stock - and taking heart

13th October 2018
First team

A dozen games played and 17 points on the board.

Swansea City sit 11th in the Championship table having just passed the quarter-way point in their first second-tier season since 2010-11.

Can Graham Potter feel satisfied with what he has seen so far?

There are things which could have been better, of course, and the Swans manager has stated that there is plenty of room for improvement.

But then that is hardly surprising given all the change which took place at the Liberty Stadium following relegation from the Premier League.

This season’s reshaped Swans side were never going to look like the finished article in a matter of weeks.

But what they have displayed in the early stages of the Potter era is plenty of positive signs.

As a result, the former Ostersund boss can feel some satisfaction as he takes stock.

The drop down from the top division meant an overhaul of players was inevitable.

The Swans said goodbye to a raft of senior figures in the summer, including first-team regulars such as Lukasz Fabianski, Alfie Mawson, Federico Fernandez, Ki Sung-Yueng, Sam Clucas and the Ayew brothers.

They also said farewell to a pair of Liberty legends, Leon Britton and Angel Rangel, meaning there were plenty of holes for the newly appointed Potter regime to fill.

In from the outside came the likes of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Bersant Celina, Joel Asoro and Barrie McKay.

At the same time Potter promoted from within.

The rise of the young Swans has been one of the major pluses of this season so far.

Connor Roberts made the first-team breakthrough last season, but it has been under Potter that he has established himself as a mainstay of the team.

Joe Rodon’s only taste of senior football before this campaign had come during a stint on loan in League Two.

Now the 20-year-old is building a reputation as a consistent, dependable performer at the heart of Potter’s defence, with his contribution recognised by Wales boss Ryan Giggs this week.

Roberts and Rodon are not the only Swans youngsters showing potential.

Daniel James had his best game yet against Ipswich last weekend, while George Byers has not looked out of place whenever he has been given an opportunity in midfield.

Yan Dhanda and Courtney Baker-Richardson have both made Football League debuts – and scored maiden goals – this season while Cian Harries, Brandon Cooper, Tyler Reid and Liam Cullen were given game-time in the Carabao Cup.

The likes of Celina, Oli McBurnie and Matt Grimes have more experience, but they are other young players who are only going to improve.

Potter’s Swans have a fresh, youthful look, with the likes of Mike van der Hoorn and Leroy Fer offering some leadership and added know-how.

As a unit, Potter’s men have shown determination and a willingness to fight for one another in every game they have played this season.

That collective desire has been a key factor in the successes the Swans have had so far.

Another has been the football they have played.

Swans fans became accustomed to watching eye-catching, possession-based football during the club’s rise from the bottom of the Football League to the top flight and the Europa League.

The consensus is that the club went away from that trademark style during the latter stages of the Premier League adventure, and Potter has been tasked with bringing it back.

These are early days, but are already there are signs that he is doing just that.

Jay Fulton’s goal against Queens Park Rangers came at the end of a move which featured every outfield player and a total of 35 passes.

Against Ipswich, Celina’s fine run and finish was the climax of a passage of play which began when Fer fed Kristoffer Nordfeldt in his own six-yard box and, rather than launching the ball upfield, the goalkeeper squared the ball for Roberts.

These were goals which highlighted the way Potter wants things done.

And they are the type which Swans fans love to see.

“We are disappointed with the number of points we have taken from certain games,” Potter said in the wake of the Ipswich defeat.

“But certainly, there have been some positive signs.

“I think we have made some big steps in terms of our performance level.”

Long may that continue.

If that happens, the Swans will have an enjoyable year.