Comparison between Cooper and Potter

Comparing Steve Cooper’s 2 seasons as Head Coach following Graham Potter

Can the comparisons in the website be flawed, or is the criteria taken from that website, apart from the AERIALS WON won statistic, immaterial when compared to the previous season despite the improvements on the field and a better points ratio in season 2020/21 than the season before.

Tackles increased during Cooper's first season but in 2020/21 dropped below the total in 2018/19.

What can be seen is that in both seasons since Potter left the club to join Brighton & H.A. almost every criteria has decreased apart from the Tackles and Aerials Won criteria.

Certain criteria in the data from can be broken down, such as Attempts(Total, Open Play, Set Piece, Counter Attack, Penalty and Own Goal) and with Pass Types(Total, Crosses, Through Ball, Long Balls and Short Passes) which can all be seen on the relative match report on the website.

The criteria are basic stats from a match and a guideline but nowhere near the analytics that are evident in the modern game.

Make of it what you will.



  • Interesting comparison, a clear 'what if..' situation. GP just seemed unable to get the team to defend set pieces, but sadly he never stayed around to sort it out. SC sorted out the defence but at the expense of our passing ability and attacking threat.

    I believe we need more of a GP this time than an SC, less direct more 'pass and move'. Scoring goals from open play by attacking down the middle, not just relying on pumping balls into the box.

  • Superb research and collation, thank you very much Colin.

    It says it all really. It wonderfully reveals more of the performance elements behind the results.

    The higher figures for tackles could be attributed to having less of the ball and therefore, without the ball, one would tend to tackle more.

    Many will disagree with this but the aerials won could be because we played many matches with a back 5 under Cooper, so having more defenders would increase our ability to head it out. I'm arguably not being generous enough here because we did improve defensively under the Cooper regime.

    Great stats @Colin_swansea and thanks for the time you've put into that

  • These numbers confirm that my eyes don't deceive me - the pass accuracy way down because we were trying to get the ball forward quicker - the total passes down because we keep turning over possession - headers increased because the ball was no longer on the floor - and attempts at goal hugely down because we did not commit to attacking or getting players into the penalty area.

    Damning numbers from an aesthetic perspective as we arm wrestled our way to largely decent results.

    Thanks so much for the research Colin!

  • could also signify more teams played longer balls into our box - Barnsley are a good example of a side that went from a passing through the thirds to a longer-ball team.

    It could also indicate us giving away more free kicks and corners, and thus needing to defend set pieces more.

  • just to add something to @Colin_swansea 's figures and excellent research.

    Those stats per game, which does give a slightly different perspective in some areas.

    Some of the stats over a season look a lot worse under Cooper than Potter when looked at in totals.

    But they actually arent that different when averaged per game - like shots, attempts, tackles, headers all fairly similar - and considering Cooper had no centre forward as such last season, the attacking ones are remarkable, in my mind.

    Where the obvious difference can be seen is in possession - dropping from 6 and 7 percentage points from Potter to Cooper's 2 season. BUT surprising to me, and I am sure a lot of the critics of Cooperball, we still edge more possession than the opposition.

    Pass success a similar stat to possession. Down 6 in Cooper's first season. down 10 in his second. But take into account the dodgy pitch last season, a factor not an excuse - it still would have been down on Potter, for sure, but possibly not as bad as it was.

    Total passing is the other massive difference, down 84 from Potter in Cooper's debut season, and a massive 148 passes per game during the full pandemic season. Which makes the pass completion stats more impressive - even if there were more passes between the back 4.

    And what this all highlights is aesthetically Potter's style is easier on the eye for those of us brought up on Bobby, Brenda and the King of Denmark (who for me, in his first season, we played the best football).

    But for some, I dare say, found Rodgers and Potter's football 'boring' (don't shoot the messenger).

    Passing the ball between the back 4, trying to pull players out of position to find openings, often no end product. They want an attacking focused game, with loads of shots, goals and success. They are not bothered about playing between the thirds or keeping possession.

  • For anyone who believes in Key Performance Indicators - the operative word there being performance, not to be confused with results - then it's clear that we have progressively gone backwards, year on year.

    That doesn't surprise me - as Jackareme has already said, these stats just confirm what the eyes tell you.

    Taken another way, it also tells you how much more difficult it is in this division to open up and try and play good football. This is a division that rewards attrition over attraction.

    Cooper will point at the bottom line and rightly so - but those figures are a concern, especially if we lose a few more players in this window and don't replace them, on top of Ayew going.

    When you play tight margins football as we do, it doesn't take much for those margins to start turning the other way. All it takes is half a dozen 1-0 wins from the season just gone to become 1-0 defeats, and all of a sudden, you're a mid table team.

    I feel we are at a crossroads season coming up.

  • The last 3 seasons we have been at the crossroads , When Potter came in , could he stop us sliding down the table to relegation , particularly after losing so many players . yes he did , well enough to be offered a Premier league job .

    When Cooper became manager could he build on Potters season , yes he did , late run into the playoffs with some astute loan signings .

    Second season , could he improve results to finish higher than 6 th , yes he did 80 points , finished 4 th performances not as good as many would like successful yes ,

    3rd season ?

  • Unfortunately we keep having to restart. I'd hoped we had moved on last year to gain some consistency but here we go again.

    I hope the Mark Hudson suggestion is not true, as that would be a very retrograde step imo.

    If SC leaves lets get a proper passing/possession manager.

  • If Cooper was appointed in 2018 instead of Potter, would Dan James have gone for £15 Million a year later. I think that is less likely.

  • Also @Cimlaswan you can add McBurnie - who would also have struggled playing Cooper Ball and turned out to be a nice little earner.

    The bizarre thing is Cooper is lauded as someone who develops young players - and that is certainly true of defenders - but which attacking players are actually improved - maybe Lowe?


  • Following on from the last set of stats I have broken down the examples I mentioned - Attempts Types and Pass Types for Steve Cooper(2019/20 and 2020/21) and Graham Potter(2018/19).

    Also, I have had a look at Michael Laudrup's first season(2012/13), bearing mind that there were 38 PL games as against 46 in the Championship.

  • I think you shouldn't compare Laudrup time as manager , in my opinion he had the best squad of players I have seen , there were top players throughout that side who delivered our first major trophy and played with a swagger like the manager who was a world class player .

    Be interesting to see the stats from previous campaigns in the Championship and League 1 .

    Much better comparing like for like .

  • Brewster possibly? His stock was a lot higher when he left us compared to what it was when he joined.

  • Worth looking at the areas of pitch we attack through. I believe we are close to bottom on attacking through the middle, but very high on attacking down the wings. We are also too reliant on set pieces rather than open play.

    Its too easy to defend as we arent penetrating in those areas which cause defences problems and when you make an attempt on goal its dangerous. We just dont create enough chances from open play and through the middle.

  • very interesting figures, Colin.

    how did Laudrup's figures look, when the wheels started to come off the following season?

    And it would be interesting to see how Monkball looked - I suspect more like Cooperball - even though he also had better players, following on Malc's comments.

  • I am having a slow day so revisited the stats above provided by @Colin_swansea - THANKS!!

    The biggest eye popper for me (apart from the attempts on goal getting progressively worse) is the number of long balls going up by 15% in 2 seasons of Cooper ball and the number of through balls going down by 65% in the same period.

    We have all seen this and it is reassuring that the numbers bear out what my eyes were telling me. Of course many/some of us see this as the biggest issue that we face, while others see it as a different way of skinning a cat - and the results are the most important piece.

    Recognizing I will not change the views of the latter group - I wanted to give my opinion on one of the biggest causes of these statistical trends - step forward Freddie Woodman.

    Freddie might have golden gloves - but he certainly had togs that were more like carpet slippers.

    The best way to beat the press is to create an overload in areas and play through it. The best teams do this by dropping a midfielder into the back line and additionally use the keeper as a passing option to move the ball.

    For us we had Grimes come deep - but were not able to use Freddie as an alternate because he was so slow in getting the ball under his spell and looking up, and then so inaccurate when distributing.

    All of this emboldened the opposition then intensified the press and we coughed up possession easily and frequently. Worse it forced our wingbacks into a deeper starting positions - making us more defensive and breaking any linkages that we had front to back.

    So how does this impact the stats? I bring forward two accomplices Jake Bidwell and (to a lesser extent) Ryan Bennett.

    By squeezing the press toward these two players who are defenders (through and through) the only answer they had was to clip the ball over the midfield and hope to hit Ayew/Lowe - neither of whom were equipped to hold the ball.

    It would have been a different world if Bidwell was able to use the keeper and make an angle to get the ball back. As a side note I would like to see Manning start - what you lose in defensive resilience I think you add in footballing ability.

    You only need to play through the press a couple of times for the opposition coach to get cautious and 'call off the dogs" with the high press.

    From what i see of Benda (I am blind with Hamer - never seen him play) we should have better options to keep the ball in the face of the press - and be better equipped to distribute the ball without kicking it half way up the west stand.

    Don't get me wrong I appreciate elements of Freddie's keeping - but us spending big money bringing him back on loan at the expense of one of our own would spoil my summer.

    I really want us to concentrate on what we do when we get through the opposition press - and this is where out meagre resources need to be invested.

    On that theme - really excited to see young and hungry forward looking players joining - and with the right injection of talent in attacking midfield areas I am excited to see our number of long balls reduce, through balls increase and attempts on goal sky rocket COYS!!

  • it's the biggest failure IMO of Cooper's reign.

    Even he prefers to play out from the back. And clubs have recognised this, and press high. He, the coaching staff and the players have sussed out how to beat it. As @Jackareme points out, and I think the weakest part of Freddie's game, is his distribution, something I hope Cooper has been thinking about for this campaign.

  • @Mark_Jack_London

    If you don't mind me asking, what do you mean when you say:

    "Even he [Cooper] prefers to play out from the back"

    I personally have never seen much evidence of this, but perhaps I am missing something.

  • because he has said it often enough. and we have seen it on many occasions when not pressed. but as soon as we see a high press, which teams like Barnsley or Brentford especially, we have resorted to panic distribution, and hitting aimless, inaccurate balls, that just end up coming back.

  • Exactly @Mark_Jack_London we have tried to play out on occasions - BUT the lack of a passing option to the keeper and a couple of panic hoofers has made it very easy for the press to be effective

    Frankly this has killed any attempts for us to retain possession and build "through the thirds".

    If we select Benda and empower him to play and start Manning ahead of Bidwell we will be a very different team and much harder to put the squeeze on - particularly if we have the likes of Grimes Fulton and Walsh creating the overloads necessary to play out.


  • @Jackareme

    One hopes that if there is substantial cash available for a few million transfer fee and the wages to tempt players to the Liberty it will be spent on more pressing weaknesses in the squad, namely in midfield or up front.

    Andy Scott noted Ben Hamer's potential early on his career, signing him for Brentford where he was almost an ever present during one stint on loan followed a few years later, signing for Charlton and hardly missing a match in three seasons, and I would like to think that his conversations with Cooper and Margetson in pre-season will go along the lines of impressing on them to make more of Hamer and Benda as the main contenders for the number one shirt next season and utilising whatever cash to be spent on more pressing replacements.

    Joseph and Piroe are interesting additions to the squad and add Whittaker and Cullen into the equation I am sure there will be a quite different take on our play up front from what we had last season. No slant on Ayew's effort but I am quite sure a more fluid, pacy, interactive frontrunners will put more pressure and move central defenders out of their comfort zones and ask them more questions that the predictability that Ayew possesses.

    All that is required to make this happen is that Benrahma, Canos, Mowat type of midfielder that comes to life between the lines to carve out the opportunities and while videos of players whet the appetite of potential suitors, although sometimes displaying a false impression, my main concern is signing such a player who will have to play 35 league games a season.

    Knowing the set up at Bristol City I will be very much surprised if a club that possesses football, rugby and basketball under the same umbrella will have an inferior medical department in comparison to what we possess, and that Walsh's injuries have been more to do with bad luck.

  • edited July 6

    I like this post Mark it shows how the stats can be interpreted to support the 'not entertaining enough crowd' and the 'results matter more than performances crowd'

    One thing you can say is that under Potter we were less successful if looking at league position.

    We all know the approach was more pragmatic last season without a recognised out and out striker, even Jordan Morris wasn't one. But it was also an energy sapping long haul with a congestion of fixtures that was a one off. With it being a crazy season just past, it's not a level playing field. Potter never had to play 3 games a week and had more cash than Coops. Many predicted a relegation fight under Potter, maybe it's that that gains him respect.

    Last season we definitely played more long ball, yes it was turgid attritional stuff on times - but we only didn't get promotion because we lost the playoff final. I call that better than Potter. Don't get me wrong, Potter was great but left us. Good luck and all that but I wasn't that impressed by his departure after he was appointed to steer the club to stability after relegation, and not just one season. Funny how one manager leaves and he's Judas, and another who similarly left us, is being used as a yardstick against the current one. I'm amazed those who usually have no hesitation in criticising see Potter as some kind of saint or at least give him a free pass.

    Anyway well reasoned post Mark.

  • edited July 6

    @Jackareme Bidwell had 8 assists last season and doesn't get credit for his work. That's 8 crosses/passes that resulted in goals as an attacking wing-back. One of our hardest physical defenders and created goals, so disagree with your assessment. We need a hard man tough tackler with a young centre back pairing . He was a big reason we had a tight defence and doesn't get the credit he deserves.

  • @Pablo I largely agree - and have recognised his defensive qualities and his ability to whip in a good cross - so yes you are correct. Where we differ is (and i wish this stat was more than my eyeballs) I have seldom seen a player who coughs up possession as easily or as readily as Bidwell.

    The picture of him clipping the ball 40 yards down the wing totally bypassing our midfield is burned into my retinas. The net effect of this was that we had to spend a lot of energy getting it back and we were forced into attritional (but very good) defending frequently in matches.

    On the stats bit @Mark_Jack_London is correct in that last year was attritional and you would expect some stats to be inferior to previous. The bit that is damning is our relative ranking compared to our Championship rivals - it was, after all, equally attritional for everyone.

    From the top of my head only a couple of teams attempted fewer efforts on goal - and for the first time in recent memory we were outside the top 10 for possession and successful passes. Just not a Swansea team as I personally like it.

  • I believe he gets just about the credit he deserves. Eight assists and a goal is very credible for a wing back, works hard every match, and has a good diesel engine, however he coughs up possession far too often due to inaccurate passing, and is one paced hence not quick enough.

    Part of the problem he and Connor both face is the formation we use. Apart from the fact every club has already worked out how to stop it working, they arent imo a good enough sub for more creative midfielders/forward who they displace in the formation. Also it takes most of the forward movement down the wings at the expense of penetrating centrally.

    In addition as we do go down that route, you need a commanding aerial presence in the box, to get on the end of what the majority of crosses are generally long and high and from wide because we arent pressing through the inside channels like a genuine winger or dribbling midfielder would.

    We need a change in style and formation for next season if we are to be successful.

  • What @JackRaven just said!!!! great post sums it up exactly in my view.

  • 'never seen a player who coughs up more possession' It's weird but I've not seen that at all, no more than anyone else or any other player. but there you go differing opinions that are impossible to varify. But I'm thinking your statement must be hyperbolic or I'd have noticed. Or perhaps I don't criticise as much as other people, in fact I know I don't. Certainly if he is so bad why did we only narrowly miss out on promotion?

    What I do see over and over though is scapegoating of players. Individual attacks in a team game. It was Jonathan Coates when I started watching the Swans....I've seen negative stuff about Naughton - he was a target for a while, but then got the long service medal fans approval.

    it's like politics. People concentrate on personalities instead of policy. In football when things aren't great fans cast about for culprits. Our league position can't be faulted, so the disgruntled need a target for frustration - in this case over 'entertainment value' mostly.

  • Sadly Bidwell undoes a lot of the good work that he does do, with his poor passing. Of the players who have started consistently last season his was the second worst pass success rate at 63.9%. The facts speak for themselves, and fit in with what the eye sees during matches.

    On the plus side he was better than Freddie by almost 5%, but that is probably damning with faint praise.

  • Interesting @JackRaven - where did you find the individual stats? I would like to self regulate what my eyes tell me with facts if I could locate them.

    re Bidwell I am guessing that (again my eyes tell me) he makes more defensive interceptions per minute than all barring Cabango and is top of the team stats with assists (that we know). Like I said good defender and has a dangerous cross from out wide.

    His pass success rate is because he has tunnel vision and clips the ball aimlessly up the wing repeatedly during games. The reason this "grinds my gears" is because I want to see us play a possession game with pass and move football.

    @Pablo is that balanced enough for you?

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