We are just a week away from the start of the 2021-22 season and Swansea City still don’t have a manager in situ.
The Jack Army is used to chaotic summers but even by our usual standards, this is absurd.
Every year there’s a big upheaval. Managerial changes or big name departures are simply a fact of life by now but at least by this stage in pre-season, most of the jigsaw pieces are usually in place.
That’s certainly not the case this year.
After prolonged speculation linking previous boss Steve Cooper with a move away from the Liberty, it was announced last week that he had left the club by mutual consent. It was also confirmed that the decision had been made two weeks earlier but Cooper had admirably agreed to remain in place for a brief period to minimise disruption while the search for his replacement continued.
That means it’s now more than three weeks since the Swans board knew for sure that a new manager would be required. They should have been pretty well prepared for this scenario. After all, Cooper had been hotly linked with several clubs beforehand so his departure was hardly surprising, even if the manner in which it came about was unusual.
But here we are, a week away from the opening day clash at Blackburn and we still await confirmation over who will be in the Ewood Park dugout.
Will it be Russell Martin, with the Swans having made an official approach to MK Dons on Friday.
In fairness to the Swans, the club thought they had found their man when QPR assistant John Eustace was on the verge of signing. However the former Kidderminster Harriers manager pulled out at the last second for personal reasons, forcing the Swans to start their search from scratch.
The two names closely linked with the job from then on were Martin and former Chelsea assistant Jody Morris.
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Both men have CVs which suggest they could tick a lot of Swansea’s boxes. Martin is an up-and-coming young manager who has steadily improved the Milton Keynes outfit’s league position and dramatically altered their style of play, while Morris is an experienced youth coach with good contacts at Chelsea.
Trying to follow Swansea’s managerial search from the outside is like watching a hosepipe on full blast with nobody holding it. It’s wild, totally unpredictable and it’s making a mess.
Sometimes we over-simplify the business side of football and of course this is not an easy time to find a new manager. A number of clubs have found this entire summer to be a difficult one when looking for new managers. But it’s still very concerning that three weeks after Cooper’s departure was agreed, we don’t yet know who his replacement will be.
Swansea City have never been manager-less this close to the start of a new season.
This is a terrible position to be in but it’s made worse by the fact there have been so many other issues this summer.
There were some expected setbacks such as the departures of key players Andre Ayew, Marc Guéhi and Freddie Woodman.
However, on top of all this, we have had to contend with an injury to last year’s player of the season, Connor Roberts, the increasingly inevitable sale of captain Matt Grimes and even a Covid-19 outbreak within the squad which has disrupted our pre-season schedule.
Uncertainty surrounding the managerial situation means we still have a bit of work to do in the transfer market, probably in the form of loan deals once again. The squad looks incomplete, with a number of gaps in the squad which need to be filled, including an apparent shortage of creativity in the final third.
But no player will want to sign for Swansea until they know who their boss will be and no Premier League club is going to lend the Swans any of their brightest talents without knowing they will be in safe hands.
As if I haven’t emphasised this enough already, the season starts next week.
This shambles is not entirely of Swansea’s making. There were factors which were beyond the club’s control in all of this but that does not prevent this from being a major embarrassment.
Some fans have already reached the stage where they just want the club to appoint anybody. Give the job to Alan Tate if we can’t persuade anybody else to do it, just to end this saga.
After so many setbacks, this panic is perhaps understandable but despite everything which has gone on and the loud ticking of the clock as we near the start of the season, the club has to avoid that temptation.
This is an important appointment and the club cannot afford to appoint the wrong man. The challenge facing Swansea this season is not an easy one. The team is trying to bounce back from a play-off final defeat having lost quite a lot of individual quality and it needs solid and shrewd guidance.
The off-field situation, with Premier League parachute payments running out, also demands a manager with a specific skill set.
This situation is deeply concerning, it reflects badly on the club but going for the easy option won’t solve anything. Now is a time for cool heads and focus so that, despite the frustrations of various delays, Swansea City can get the right person for the job.