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2019/20 Preview: Swansea City

19 June 2019

After a disappointing Premier League campaign saw Swansea City drop back into the second tier ahead of the 2018/19 term, Graham Potter was appointed to try and steer the Welsh outfit back to the top flight.

The 44-year-old had made a name for himself as a left-back during his playing days, representing Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion amongst others, before beginning his managerial career in Sweden with Östersund.

Potter guided the minnows from the third tier to the Allsvenskan for the first time in their history and also claimed the Svenska Cupen in 2017. Östersund then competed in the Europa League, going head to head with Arsenal in the round of 32 after progressing through the group stage.

That brought the Englishman to the attention of Swansea, who had been relegated from the Premier League. A rebuilding process began, with a host of first team players moving on to pastures new.

Łukasz Fabiański joined West Ham United and Roque Mesa returned to his native Spain with Sevilla in June, while Kyle Bartley, Jordi Amat, Alfie Mawson, Sam Clucas and Federico Fernández also transferred out for a total income reported to be worth more than £30 million.

There were also temporary departures, with André and Jordan Ayew, Wilfried Bony and Tom Carroll leaving on loan.

In came Barrie McKay, Bersant Celina, Joel Asoro and Declan John as Potter looked to inject youth and energy into his new-look Swans side, while Oli McBurnie returned to the Liberty Stadium following his impressive loan spell with Barnsley.

The Scottish forward would go onto make an immediate impression on his new manager as he scored on the opening day in a 2-1 victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, before City followed that up with a 1-0 win at home to Preston North End.

Draws against Birmingham City and promotion favourites Leeds United represented a solid start in the first few weeks of the campaign for Potter and his side, who were sixth after four games.

But they were unable to sustain that early season form, and a run of seven wins from their next 21 outings until the end of 2018 left the Swans sitting in mid-table. Disappointing defeats against relegation-threatened Ipswich Town and Rotherham United stand out as results where City perhaps should have done better, but the performances of McBurnie, full-back Connor Roberts and wing wizard Dan James gave supporters reason to be optimistic.

Swansea began the New Year with a comprehensive 4-1 victory at struggling Reading, who hadn’t won since the start of November. Another dip in league results was partially made up for by a run to the Emirates FA Cup quarter-finals, where the Swans were eliminated by eventual historic Treble-winning Manchester City in South Wales.

April brought about a mini-revival for Potter’s side, who lost just once until the end of the season – a 4-0 drubbing against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. Brentford, Middlesbrough and Stoke were all dispatched with consummate ease at the Liberty, while points against Hull City, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers secured a 10th place finish.

They must, however, rebuild ahead of the 2019/20 campaign. Potter has moved onto Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League to fill the void left by Chris Hughton as the managerial revolving door continues to rotate at an alarming rate. Steve Cooper, who led England U17s to World Cup glory in 2017, has been appointed as Head Coach at Swansea.

Manchester United have also swooped for James, who will be looking to emulate his national team manager Ryan Giggs and become a legend at Old Trafford.

A number of experienced players are on their way out of the Liberty following the expiration of their contracts: former Dutch internationals Leroy Fer and Luciano Narsingh join Bony and Martin Olsson in departing Swansea this summer.

We haven’t faced the Swans since a League Cup tie in August 2012; Bobby Hassell scored our goal as City secured a 3-1 victory in South Wales.

Barnsley have failed to win any of the last 10 meetings in regulation time, although we did secure a memorable penalty shootout triumph in the 2006 League One play-off final at the Millennium Stadium. Reds Assistant Dale Tonge was part of the squad that day, coming off the bench to help Andy Ritchie’s side to promotion.

 


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