Swansea boss Steve Cooper was named the Championship Manager of the Month in January, a reward for how well his side have started the new year.
It is the second time he has won the award in the Championship as he also landed the trophy in August 2019, in what was his first month competing in the league.
The Swans were unbeaten in January, a fine achievement when you consider they came up against promotion rivals Brentford and Watford. This current run of form puts them in the hunt for one of the two automatic promotions spots in the league.
Copper also had an excellent transfer window in January, with Conor Hourihane being the pick of his signings on-loan. The Aston Villa midfielder has made an excellent start to his spell, scoring three goals in his opening three Championship games.
Little wonder then perhaps that some newspapers are already suggesting that the Welshman is being lined up as a replacement for under-fire Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson this summer.
Swansea are odds-on at 10/11 to get promoted this season in the odds on football in the Championship. This suggests there is a very strong chance we could see Cooper and his team in the Premier League next season. He would then have the chance to pit himself against the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, three of the biggest names in world football.
When Cooper was appointed as Swansea’s permanent manager in June 2019, there were a few raised eyebrows about the decision. Up until that point, the Welshman had only been in charge of various youth teams, including Liverpool youth and England’s under 17s.
World Cup Winner With England Under 17s
Cooper had a big reputation of helping younger players progress in the game. He won the U17 World Cup with England in 2017. His side included the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Callum Hudson-Odoi, three players who are now excelling with major European clubs.
The former England youth coach led his team to the play-offs last season in the Championship. They finished the campaign really strongly to finish in sixth place. They missed out on a spot at Wembley as they were beaten 3-2 by Brentford.
Cooper will be hoping his team have learnt from the disappointment of last season. He will want to avoid having to go through the play-offs again, but if they did, it will be important they have a home tie in the semi-final.
Swansea Are Tactically Acute
It is very noticeable how disciplined Swansea have been under Cooper. He clearly organises his team to be well structured at the back. They have conceded just 15 goals so far this season, the lowest total of any team in the Championship.
Cooper has put the responsibility of keeping clean sheets on the whole of his starting XI. At times he has gone for five at the back, with the full backs given the freedom to push forward when in possession of the ball.
Swansea are one of the best teams in the Championship at keeping the ball. They dominated the possession stats in the large majority of their games. This is something which has also helped their defensive record.
The task for Cooper now is to ensure his side stay focused and secure promotion. His future is clearly very bright in the game so Swansea fans will be hoping he stays at the club as long as possible.