Steve Cooper gave up a fairly secure job with the FA to take on Swansea, but as they’re sixth in the Championship with limited resources, it’s going as well as could be expected…
It was a pretty bold move for Steve Cooper to take the Swansea job last summer.
Cooper had plenty of kudos in the bank at the FA after leading the England Under-17s to their World Cup win in 2017, so leaving that had to constitute a gamble. And that’s even before you consider that the Swans were in a state of flux, and he was replacing Graham Potter, who under the circumstances had done a fine job last season.
But things have gone pretty much as well as could be expected so far: Swansea started the season brilliantly, dropping just two points from their opening six games, and even after a drop-off in results as autumn set in, they go into the weekend’s derby against Cardiff in sixth place.
“After seven years in the Premier League, getting to Europe and the League Cup and all that sort of stuff, the club might seem quite familiar sight to the [average] football fan,” Cooper exclusively told the Totally Football League Show this week.
“People outside of Swansea looked in with great admiration of how they they did things, from nearly going out of the league to getting into the Premier League. I was very aware that when when I applied and then managed to get the job, that’s definitely been one of the objectives is to really keep that going.
“There’s no doubt there’s some good work done last year with Graham Potter. And our idea was to to keep that going with a young team and try and improve it and evolve it and maybe adapt it a little bit and, keep trying to progress.
“Behind the scenes a lot of the club is new. We have relatively new owners. We have a new chairman. I’m new from the summer with my coaching team and backroom staff. We completely changed the recruitment department, the medical department, etc, etc. So so behind the familiar sight that you see of Swansea playing at the Liberty Stadium, there’s a lot of lot of areas of the football club that is in its infancy.
“We’re just trying to be as competitive as we can now. But we’re building for the future, within the constraints of where the football club lies, because we haven’t got loads of money, we haven’t got massive resources. We’ve got fantastic training ground, we’ve got a fantastic stadium and we’ve got a squad and a team that I believe on its day can beat anybody. But that’s obviously harder to do than say. And with that, we’re not looking too far ahead than the next game.”
Swansea’s chances of promotion should be helped by the loan signing of Rhian Brewster, but Cooper also spoke about the challenges of being a first-time manager, even though he has been a coach for a long time.
“Coming into this this role, I promised myself I would stick to to what I believe in because we’ve had some really good ups already and we’ve had some downs as well. I knew they were going to come because it’s not a job that ever is hunky dory, whatever club and whatever level you’re at.
“I think that’s a real test of a philosophy and a real test of how much you really believe in it. Hopefully that will be transferred to the players as well, because if you don’t fundamentally believe in what you do, then I believe that the players and supporters and the support staff see through that.
“And I really do believe in our work. I’m fairly new to the first-team environment, but I’ve been coaching professionally for 20 years, so I’ve not walked into this completely blind. I’ve walked into it because I wanted to but I made sure I was as ready as I could be. And there are some things that, you know, you are you’re not quite ready for until you experience them.
“So far, I believe I have done that and I will do until however long this lasts. Once you do that, I think you just sleep better at night and you know you’ve done it in the way that you’ve planned to. We’re now over halfway in the season, we’re sixth in the league – not that that counts for anything at this moment in time – I feel like generally we are making progress, but still with a long way to go and that’s the exciting bit for me.
One concern for Swans fans is that some of their better players may leave in the transfer window, with Andre Ayew in particular the subject of rumours. But Cooper doesn’t think anyone will be sold this month.
“Well, there’s no no interest to report. We have sold players in the past for, you know, some big players in the summer. We know we have some good players and can play at a high level and will be of interest to people. I hope nobody will go. The players that we want to keep here will stay at least till the summer. But at the same time, if something does come up that we think might be right, then, you know, like every other club at this time year, we’ll be looking at it.”
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