We’ve almost reached the halfway point of the season and things have gone as well as you’d expect really.
With so many players leaving the club and a new manager taking control, this season was always expected to be a transitional season. We sit in 12th place and just 7 points off the play-off spots.
An immediate return to the Premier League, where we will be on the Premiership betting odds market, seems unlikely but there are a number of positives we can take away from this season, such as the number of young players that are being used.
Although people will always claim that you need experienced players in the squad, here’s a couple of reasons why the use of youth in the Swans squad is a good thing.
Since the takeover of the club by Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan, it’s been safe to say that our transfer policy has been woeful at best.
In the past few years we’ve seen key players Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ashley Williams leave the club, but not adequately replaced. Fingers have been pointed in all directions, but we all know that the previous transfer windows were well below standard.
This summer’s transfer window was no different as a number of our best players left the club to remain in the Premier League. Although this is a huge disappointment, it could mean that the club will be better off in the long run.
The main benefit of having a younger squad is that the transfer fees will usually be lower. Instead of paying a premium for the finished product, we are paying for potential.
Not only will this transfer policy add some fresh legs to the squad, it will also help the club cope with the drop in revenue whilst we’re in the Championship.
Obviously paying for potential is a risky move, but if it pays off it will be money well spent.
It’s not just transfer fees that the club needed to be careful with, there was also the wage budget. After an extended spell in the Premier League it was no surprise that the wage budget also increased, especially with the increased TV money available.
Although there are the parachute payments for the next few years to help deal with the significant drop in revenue, it seems like the club is taking a risk-adverse approach and reducing it now.
Likewise with transfer fees, younger players tend to request less in wages than their older teammates which will help with the financial situation.
The cost of these players might be one of the reasons why the club has adopted a younger transfer policy, but it’s also clear that Graham Potter is keen on these types of players.
During his lengthy spell as manager of Östersunds FK, the majority of players which he signed were under the age of 24.
Although their location and budget meant that they weren’t always able to sign their first choice targets, he certainly got value for money.
Their success in Sweden means that Potter and his team have adopted a similar transfer policy in Wales.
The eldest players that we signed this summer were Declan John and Barrie McKay, at 23 years old. In comparison, the youngest player we signed on a permanent transfer last season was Sam Clucas – who was 27 years old.
The manager certainly seems comfortable with these types of players and that can only be a good thing. With the majority of the players still developing, Potter will be able to get them to play the way he wants rather than sticking with players who are unwilling to change.
In the past we’ve seen some impressive players come through our youth system and become part of our first team squad, such as Joe Allen.
The competitiveness of the Premier League meant that our youngsters got very few opportunities in the first team squad. Ben Davies was one of the very few players who came through our youth system and secured a first team position during our spell in the top division.
This season has seen Courteney Baker-Richards, George Byers, Joe Rodon and Daniel James all promoted from the youth squad and become first team squad members.
Both Rodon and James in particular have comfortably adapted to senior football and cemented their place in the first team squad. Joe Rodon has certainly impressed everyone since joining the squad and even earned a “shock” call up to the Wales national team back in October.
The promotion of youth players is certainly a step in the right direction, and it finally makes use of our club’s category one academy which has struggled to produce player in the past few seasons.