With the appointment of Carlos Carvalhal confirmed, Swansea can now look to push on with their season and improve their league position. But where should he start?
Areas To Improve: Attack
Anyone that has watched the Swans so far this season can see that there are clear improvements needed throughout the team. Wingers such as; Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and Luciano Narsingh are simply not good enough. Not as first team starters. If Carvalhal really does intend to put opposing teams to the sword, he’ll want to invest heavily in this area. Similarly, the striking department is lacking in both dynamism and depth. The return of Wilfred Bony has been soured with injury, the Ivory Coast international scoring only twice in 9 fixtures. Young England hopeful Tammy Abraham started brightly, but has faded in recent games and is without a league goal since October.
Question marks still shadow Renato Sanches, who is well on his way to being handed the rather damning accolade of ‘flop of the season’. But with solid defensive midfielders like Leon Britton and (to a slightly lesser extent) Roque Mesa, perhaps he can thrive alongside them in a more attacking role. If focused higher up the pitch his confidence and creativity can flourish and at the very least, losing the ball in the final third is far less of a crime.
Defensively, the Swans have some quality but little depth. Which makes talk of selling Mawson absurd, especially to a Premier League rival such as West Ham. Lucasz Fabianski, Federico Fernandez, Martin Olson and the aforementioned Mawson are all good players. The injured Kyle Bartley is yet to convince, but has shown promise. It’s in the full back positions where obvious weaknesses can be seen, particularly at right back.
Kyle Naughton has been disappointing for some time now. In the recent game against Everton outrageously showing Gylfi Sigurdsson inside and onto his right foot, a player he is more than familiar with, and allowing him the space to shoot and score. All of this and it’s no surprise really when you consider his only competition for the right back position is the ageing Angel Rangel. A club legend no doubt (having played a huge part in Swansea’s incredible rise up the leagues), Rangel is more of a bit-part player these days. Just as useful as a voice of wisdom in the changing room as on the match day pitch. So if not a straight up replacement for Naughton, then strong competition must be brought in if he is to be motivated to improve.
From Clement To Carvalhal
The Swans under Paul Clement were often criticised for setting up negatively, particularly at home against teams they should be looking to beat. In his first press conference, Carvalhal said that he intends to implement a possession based game with added emphasis on attack and, ultimately, scoring goals. Whether he can do this remains to be seen, but to give himself the best chance of succeeding he must recruit wisely in the January transfer window.
Carvalhal talks about club identity. Playing not only with the opposition in mind but adhering to a footballing philosophy and putting them to the sword. It will be interesting to see if he can pull off what so many Swansea City supporters have been longing for, and restore a club identity that the fans can be proud of. Even if they do get relegated.