The Jack Army had their first chance to put questions to new Swans gaffer Graham Potter and his backroom staff at a ‘Meet the Manager’ evening organised by football club at the Liberty Stadium on the evening of Thursday July 5th.
The hour and a half long event saw well over 100 fans in attendance, with the top table comprising of manager Graham Potter, Billy Reid (assistant manager), Kyle Macaulay (head of recruitment), Bjorn Hamberg (assistant coach) and Swans chief operating officer Chris Pearlman.
Swans Head of Media & Marketing, Jonathan Wilsher, was compare for the evening.
Fans unable to attend the event will be glad to know that the club also filmed the question and answer session, so expect a video of proceedings to be shared via social media over the next few days. Update: The video is now available on the Club website.
However, thanks to SOS Fanzine editor Steven Carroll, we are able to share some of the key points raised during the evening for those of you who weren’t in attendance.
So grab yourself a cup of your favourite brew and have a read of the abbreviated transcript:
Q: How confident are we if keeping players and what targets do we have?
Potter says restructuring will be needed following relegation. Potter is excited by potential to rebuild club. Says it’s a big job, will be busy until window shuts. Currently assessing players. Club has special place in community and these things take time. Quick decisions aren’t always good at. Wants to build a club we’re proud of.
Q: What is the current status on injured players such as Leroy Fer, Alfie Mawson, etc?
Making progress but not fit to return to group. Fer expected to be back September, Clucas and Mawson around mid-August. Bony further away than the others.
Q: Thoughts on involvement of U23s training with first team squad.
Potter watched games from afar, worked with players for 2 days, great attitude. Harris, James, Byers, Rodon with first team currently. Not fair to judge them yet, they need time.
Q: What sort of transfer budget is available as most of current squad are deadwood!
Answer is money won’t solve problem, establish environment that we are proud of and can identify with. Potter adds that everyone is supportive of his ideas.
Q: What is the situation with Montero and Baston?
Bastion still in Spain, wants to stay there and loan deal looks likely. Montero on way back, but visa issues currently holding things up.
Q: Will players be coming from Östersunds?
Potter says not that simple. Depends on few factors.
Q: What are your objectives?
Bjorn Hamburg (assistant coach) answers that a team we can all be proud of and enjoyable playing style, wants to improve players.
Q: Where is Jenkins tonight and what’s his position now – after stating it was untenable if we were relegated from the Premier League?
Pearlman answered that didn’t want to distract from tonight, Levine and Kaplan took step back and wanted Jenkins to stay – but to make changes. Jenkins said about wholesale recruitment changes. Believe Kyle is right man for job.
Q: Can it be confirmed that Potter has final say on transfers and Jenkins isn’t involved.
Pearlman says Potter have independence to make decisions. Jenkins is staying involved. Pearlman appreciates strong views on his position. He still has support of owners. Potter adds need to go back to style of play of old which makes it easier to recruit. Says need to understand players to improve them. Premier league survival made us lose sight of that.
Q: In an ideal world what is your favoured formation 4-4-2, 3-5-1 or what?
Potter says he’s spent years building up possession and attacking style which he wants here. Doesn’t have preferred system because of need to be flexible but idea has been same regardless.
Q: Are we looking for leaders on the pitch as we lack them.
Macauley answers about leaders and experience – doesn’t think 2 are connected but expects bravery from players. Example is taking ball in tricky situations and after they’ve made mistakes.
Q: Last season’s matchday programmes were grey and drab – please can they be changed to make more attractive like other club’s programmes?
Wilsher says he’ll look at programme issue.
Q: Where are we with the stadium expansion?
Pearlman talks about positives of expanding, commissioned a study regarding this issue. Results came back last month, study indicated we could fill 3,000 seats and fill it if we stayed up. Including hospitality without big cost. We’re not going to do it in the Championship, will do legwork for if we are promoted again we can add seats quickly. Pearlman now discussing naming rights revenue. Now worth less we’ve gone down. Club wanted to combine it with expansion as it’s be more lucrative. Club unlikely to do a deal now because they believe it won’t get market value. Likely to sit tight and hope we go back up.
Q: Are the club in a position that they have to sell before buying?
Coaching team need to be responsible due to restructure. Sensible decisions need to be made, progress is being made on new players.
Q: What are the club’s views on safe standing?
Club supports it. Would like legislation changed as it would improve Matchday experience.
Q: Given the importance of the club in the community, what are their thoughts on grassroots football and the number of games being called off due to poor pitches.
Pearlman appreciated the problem as his kids often have their games called off. Coaching staff added that we need to inspire people to play football.
Q: What plans are there for improving parking and transport around the stadium?
Club would like Landore station opened, also looking at additional park and ride services. Fan support with local authorities wih regards to the station would be extremely helpful. Fanzone benefit was also to ease congestion. Car parking prices unlikely to be lowered at stadium.
Q: Is the World Cup hindering coaching/recruitment plans?
A joke is made between the two Scots (Reid and Maccauley) and Swedish Hamberg about the Quarter-Final with Potter’s England – not expecting Olsson and Nordfeldt back imminently – which draws a lot of laughter around the room and top table. More generally in terms of recruitment, no-one is expected to arrive imminently but there is likely to be players at some point.
Q: Is the academy structure linked to first team but is there separate recruitment team?
Yes there is, not much alignment with first team which he says is missed opportunity. Reid says when at Hamilton a lot of players came through and would like same here.
Q: Were we ever interested in Ken Sema and also Saman Ghoddos from Östersunds?
Sema wanted to play in Prem, we were interested but his ambition put pay to it. The only other way is to pay much more than PL clubs (in terms of fees/wages) – which is a good idea. Similar situation with Ghoddos, interest from China where again financially we can’t compete.
Q: What are your thoughts on all the diving and surrounding ref in the World Cup?
Club want players to be proud of, says we should respect everyone.
Q: Will the club look to use the loan market?
We may utilise it. It’s about the person, will they add something and be proud to be here.
Q: Another recruitment question.
It’s confirmed that Potter has last day on transfers.
Q: Alan Curtis – why did potter want him back when previous managers got rid of him?
Important for daily environment, says not from Swansea but Alan is well respected and knows of him and his character. Thought his experience of club would be invaluable.
The evening closed with Wilsher promising similar events during the season and generous applause for the entire panel, all of whom spoke with
Fellow fans that I spoke to afterwards felt a real sense of optimism in light of our managerial appointment.
All were very impressed with the way Graham Potter and his backroom staff came across when answering questions and their vision of how the club needs to get its playing identity back before being able to progress.
On the evidence of this evening, we should all be optimistic for what the future holds for our beloved team, BUT one thing is for certain, and that is that this is a long term project and one which requires the Jack Army to be patient.