Swansea City have shown real signs of progress in their bid to return to the Premier League this season, and head coach Steve Cooper has created a squad capable of promotion.
After the heartbreak of a Championship playoff semi-final defeat at the hands of Brentford last season, the Swans are right back in the mix for promotion once again.
Cooper Impressing at the Liberty
In his first role as a first-team boss, Cooper is showing signs of real potential in the world of football management. Previously a youth coach at under-16 and under-17 level with England, the Welshman took the Swansea job in 2019, and was only a couple of steps short of leading the Swans to promotion in his first campaign at the helm.
Defeat to Thomas Frank’s Brentford saw the Jacks fall short last term. But now Cooper’s side find themselves pushing for automatic promotion, as they attempt to avoid the unpredictability of the play-offs. Swansea, who are 6/5 with bet365 for promotion in the Championship betting, have not let the disappointment of last season get to them, and they are now hot on the heels of table-toppers Norwich City.
Defence the Key for Cooper
Cooper has given the Swans a defence they can be proud of, and that meanness at the back has been a key factor in their success so far this term. After 26 games, Swansea had conceded just 15 goals, with by far the best defensive record in the division.
Defences can win titles and should Swansea be able to keep up that rigidity at the back, then they stand a great chance of making a return to the Premier League. It was back in the 2014-15 Championship season when a team that finished outside the automatic promotion places (Middlesbrough) had conceded the fewest goals that term.
New Recruits Can See Swans over the Line
Swansea were not afraid to splash the cash in the January transfer window in the hope of finishing the season strongly. The team took on Derby County winger Morgan Whittaker, DC United’s midfielder Paul Arriola (on loan), and Swindon’s right-back Kieron Freeman (also on loan). This completed moves to the Liberty Stadium at the end of the window.
Swansea’s best bit of business was arguably done slightly earlier in the window, with Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane joining on loan for the remainder of the Championship campaign. The Republic of Ireland international has been there and done it in getting Villa to the Premier League, and his experience will be invaluable going forward. Hourihane said working with Cooper was a big reason behind him deciding to move to Swansea, when he also had interest from elsewhere.
Progress made from last season, their defensive foundation, and the fresh faces added to the squad, mean Swansea should be up for those automatic promotion places at the business end of the campaign.