Norwich travel to Swansea on Saturday on the crest of a wave. Newly relegated Swansea seem to have a few issues though, chiefly naming Leroy Fer as captain. Jon Punt spoke to Steven Carroll of SOS fanzine to get the lowdown…
Jon: In researching this preview (by research I mean taking a couple of minutes to look at Newsnow, then making myself a cup of tea), I was struck by the fact Leroy Fer has recently declared himself proud to by the Swans skipper this season. I was stunned.
The Leroy Fer of Norwich City Football Club understood as much about collective responsibility as the Brexit secretary, whoever that might be by the time this piece gets published. When Fer joined City he looked like he had all the tools to be a top class central midfielder, except attitude and application.
What's happened? Has he finally grown up or is passing him the armband some kind of elaborate ruse to make him grow up?
Steven: Ha, I can relate a lot to the attitude and application argument you’re referring to.
We lost a lot of players over the summer which meant there weren’t a great deal of options for the armband. I was a bit surprised myself as he wouldn’t have been my choice.
My belief is the club thought giving him the armband might improve his game. The jury is out on whether it’s worked. He was injured at the start of the season and then picked up another knock a few games later.
Since then he’s been a bit hot and cold. When he’s at his best he could be one of the best players in this league, when he isn’t you can’t really justify him playing. Will he ever fulfil his potential and be a consistent top performer? Probably not I’d say is the answer.
Leroy has form for taking sides down then jumping ship so I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to engineer himself a move again. Either that or he’s tried to and no-one is prepared to take another chance on the guy.
Graham Potter clearly took the chance though, and has been famed for some more unconventional methods prior to his move to Wales. Has he brought any of that with him and is his playing style vastly different from previous regimes?
Fer is out of contract in the summer so he could well move then, there’s been no speculation about that just yet though.
We haven’t seen the unconventional methods yet from Potter in South Wales but he’s doing an excellent job so far.
The playing style is far more in line with what made us successful rather than relying on set pieces and parking the bus which is how we’ve been over the last few years.
Potter does vary his formations and team selections though so he can be difficult to predict. I’m hoping he starts to pick a more settled side in the weeks ahead.
Interestingly, Daniel Farke struggled in his first term here, given the massive rebuilding job we were undertaking. Much of that meant he was tinkering with formations and personnel to try and find the balance we needed. This season we’ve seen a much more consistent starting eleven, generally consisting of at least 7 or 8 of the same players each week. It certainly helps in this league.
I’ve done some more research by the way (with another cup of tea, even had a Twix this time) and only just remembered (read it off the internet) that you have another couple of Norwich players in your ranks, namely Martin Olsson and Kyle Naughton. It seems like they can’t even make the starting line-up though – what’s the deal with that? Former Man City frontman Bony can’t oust McBurnie either, is this all down to attitudes?
I think you guys are a season ahead of us, this was always going to be a year of transition for Swansea. If we finish where we are now that would represent a good season.
Olsson and Naughton have played a fair amount. Both have been victims to the managers chopping and changing. Olsson I would say is first choice although Matt Grimes has deputised for him.
With Naughton it’s a bit different, I thought he would have left in the summer. He’s covered in midfield in a few games and to be fair did a job there. He’s very much 2nd choice right back behind Connor Roberts but Roberts has played further forward on occasions allowing Naughton to take his place.
Bony is fairly simple, he’s been put since February and only made his comeback as a sub in our recent win at Bolton. I think he’ll be off in January if we can sell him, as his wages are huge.
For me Oli McBurnie is very much the number one striker at this moment in time.
Surprised to hear you say that upper mid table would represent a good season, is that kind of patience shared by most other Swans fans? With the resources at your disposal, and some of the talent still in your squad I’d have thought expectations would have been for a play-off berth as a minimum. Although there’s probably 10-12 teams with that kind of expectation…
After 2-3 years of struggling I think consolidation with a more attractive style of play is what most fans want.
The squad has undergone a major transformation with many young players now regulars and while we have a good starting eleven there’s not much strength in depth. It’s an open league and play-offs could be possible but we need reinforcements in January in a few positions, which looks unlikely as the owners have said be prepared for more “hard medicine” on that front.
We’ve taken that hard medicine, not as bad as you think. Bit of an aftertaste though, like a flavoured gin but even shitter.
Turning to Saturday then, I’m guessing we’ll see two sides intent on dominating possession, but where can Norwich get at your lot?
There’s a few high earners that aren’t playing like Dyer, Routledge and Narsingh, so if we sell those players it won’t do too much harm.
Where can you get at us? That’s a good question. I would have said crosses if Kristofer Nordfeldt was in goal but providing Erwin Mulder keeps his place we will be stronger in that area.
I don’t think we have any glaring weaknesses at the back and not many sides have created too many chances against us. Therefore what I would say is that if you’re going to win you’ll need to make the most of your chances as you may not get too many good ones.
We’ve been pretty clinical in front of goal so far, as long as we’re not shooting from the penalty spot, in which case we’re woeful. Should be an interesting match up.
So, very specific prediction time then. I’m going for Swansea to open the scoring from a scuffed free kick which creeps under the wall on 29 minutes, before a brave second half comeback sees Onel Hernandez snatch an equaliser from an overhead kick, before Teemu Pukki flicks one in with his shoulder (probably the only part of his body he’s yet to score with) in the 87th minute. 2-1 to the Super Nodge. You?
Haha incredibly specific. We haven’t scored from a free kick in a long time, not since Gylfi Sigurdsson left if my memory serves me correctly.
I’m going to say an entertaining 1-1 draw which I don’t think either side would be too disappointed with.
I don't like it but I'll take it - thanks for your time Steven, much appreciated.