Rodgers: I won't break the team up but there's no room for sentiment
Swansea manager realistic about Premier League prospects as he reflects on how far his club have come
Tuesday 31 May 2011
Five weeks ago Brendan Rodgers told The Independent that his club were "not ready" to be promoted to the Premier League, but they would nevertheless "jump at the chance to play at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge".
The dream is now reality, and while Swansea fans are celebrating now they will not be cheered by the analogy Rodgers made in the same interview, to the effect that "we're similar to Blackpool last year, or Burnley before that". Both teams, it barely needs adding, were relegated.
But Rodgers, and his chairman Huw Jenkins, are unlikely to be bombarded by letters (or, in the modern world, messageboard comments) demanding they spend big to secure the club's newly-won Premier League status. All but the youngest of fans know it is more important not to jeopardise their continued existence.
It is only eight years ago that Swansea were on the brink of plunging into non-League, brought low by poor management and ownership disputes. "I was talking to the chairman about those times this week," said Rodgers.
"We couldn't even pay the electricity bill, which is absolutely incredible. The club was very unstable then, but you have local business guys, basically supporters who had the club at heart, who came in. I hope the finances we get from promotion will now stabilise the club and give them something to move forward."
That is not the only reason Swansea will not be following the likes of Bradford City and Hull City in spending the future. The golden era of the early eighties had an unhappy ending. Promoted in 1981 under John Toshack – who was at Wembley yesterday – Swansea lasted just two seasons then slid down the leagues. By 1986, having overdone the wage bill in the top flight, they faced a winding-up order and were heading for the Fourth Division.
So while Rodgers said he recognised the need to strengthen, and intended to do so, he knows budgets will not be generous. The first cash spent will be to Chelsea, promotion triggering another payment for Scott Sinclair to make his fee approaching £1m. With Fabio Borini, who is on loan from Chelsea, unlikely to make the move permanent (he is expected to return to Italy), a striker is required. To judge from the weakness Reading exposed at set-pieces yesterday, some investment in central defence will also be needed. It will not be easy to find the right players because Rodgers' team play a distinctive style.
Teams promoted through the play-off finals rarely survive (four of the last five were immediately relegated while Hull went down in their second season). Rodgers added: "It'll be very tough next year, we'll be underdogs everywhere, but we have targets who will help us keep our identity, how we've played all season.
"It can be a big mistake to get promotion and try to do it [in the Premier League] with the same players, it's a different strategy in regard to pace and power. I want to give the players here a chance, but we'll need to strengthen. I learned at Reading [where he lasted six months as manager] that there is no room for sentiment. I won't break the team up, but I do want to add to it."
For Brian McDermott, the concern is that his Reading team will be broken up, with Shane Long, Jimmy Kebe, Jobi McAnuff and Jem Karacan in demand from Premier League clubs.
"We have good players and I know people will be interested in them but I can't worry about that today," the Reading manager said. "We just have to pick ourselves up and try and go again next season."
Swansea City FC
* Claim to fame The Swans will be the 45th club – but the first from Wales – to play in the Premier League
* Founded 1912
* Last in top flight 1983
* Stadium Liberty Stadium (capacity: 20,520; average attendance: 15,507)
Brendan Rodgers. Began playing career with Reading but had to retire aged 20 due to injury. Became a coach with the Royals before being appointed youth team manager in the mid-1990s. Approached by Jose Mourinho, he became youth team coach at Chelsea in 2004, and then reserve manager in 2006. Took over at Watford in late 2008, his debut first-team managerial post, but left after a year to rejoin Reading as manager. Only lasted six months, leaving by mutual consent with the club in 21st place. Joined Swansea last July.
One to watch
Scott Sinclair. Quick 22-year-old forward failed to make the grade at Chelsea but has been in outstanding form for Swansea this season, scoring 22 League goals including yesterday's hat-trick.
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