City take on Swansea this evening in Manchester. In the corresponding fixture last season, City cruised to a 4-0 victory on the opening day of the season and Sergio Aguero announced his arrival at City and the Premier League with two goals and an assist.
After a successful debut Premier League campaign last season, Swansea finished 11th and played an attractive brand of football. Kevin Elphick from Vital Swansea has shared his thoughts with us ahead of today’s game.
Typical City: What would constitute a successful season for Swansea?
Kevin Elphick: Michael Laudrup will have a successful season this year if he avoids relegation – which will be the target despite a very successful mid-table finish in our opening Premier League campaign. After a lot of change in the summer, Laudrup faced a tough task of “steadying the ship” following the departures of most of the management staff, Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair. Many pundits and bookmakers had us as one of the big favourites to suffer relegation but so far we’re looking solid enough in mid-table. 17th or higher would be an excellent finish for us – we’re still very much a small fish in a massive pond.
TC: You have been praised for your passing philosophy. Are the fans enjoying the style of play?
KE: Definitely, and we’ve got so used to it we couldn’t go back to anything else. Chairman Huw Jenkins knows what the fans want – a manager to play an attractive style of football and he’s maintained that ever since the arrival of Roberto Martinez – who started the trend off here – and we love it.
TC: Which of the new signings has looked the best for you?
KE: That’s an easy one. Michu – a £2m bargain buy from Spain. With Joe Allen and Gylfi Sigurdsson no longer here in midfield, we needed a quality replacement and Michu has delivered right from the first game – where he scored a brace on his debut.
TC: What are your thoughts on your manager?
KE: I liked the sound of Michael Laudrup ever since he was first mentioned for the job and I’ll support him until he leaves. I’m glad he has made us a better attacking side, we’re scoring more goals and creating more goals, but the only criticism is that we’re not as tight and solid defensively. We give teams more time and space on the ball than we probably did last year under Brendan Rodgers.
Laudrup is probably only going to be here for the same amount of time as his recent predecessors because he’s been surprised how long some manager’s spend at clubs in this country, plus he’s had relatively short spells with his recent clubs. His only other criticism for me is that he simply sees avoiding relegation as the aim, whereas it would be more encouraging if he aimed a little higher. Although it is the realistic aim, it would be better to hear him encouraging the players in the media that they’re better than just a team fighting against the drop.
TC: Has Brendan Rodgers’ departure affected the team?
KE: The Swans don’t look quite as solid defensively, but we’ve compensated for that as we’re a far better attacking side. The balance has shifted slightly but we’re heading for a similar mid-table finish if we can maintain our form.
TC: Do you think Scott Sinclair will be a success at City?
KE: We were all shocked to hear that you were interested in Sinclair. We thought it was just media speculation and/or his agent trying to drum up interest in him. Sinclair didn’t have a great season last year and he was fortunate to keep his place in the first team for so long. So to answer your question, I highly doubt it.
TC: Where do you expect to finish this year?
KE: I don’t think we’ll finish as high up as we did last season, but I still expect to finish well clear of a relegation battle – 13th or 14th.
TC: What’s your perception of City?
KE: You’re quite the opposite of us! I’m not a big fan of clubs being bought by billionaires but I don’t suppose many City supporters are bothered having won the League last year! It’s good for the League that there’s another competitor for the title.
TC: Prediction for the game?
KE: Manchester City will be looking to get back to winning ways after a midweek disappointment in the Champions League. They’re at home, and I can only see one winner and that’s the home team. Maybe we’ll grab 1 goal in a 3-1 defeat.