Rodgers ready for the battle to keep Swans aloft

 

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The Independent Football

It takes a brave, some may suggest naive, manager who has faith in the modern-day professional to prioritise the potential over his salary. But Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers is quite certain that, if and when the suitors come calling in January, his young romantics will refuse to allow the pound signs to turn their heads.

This lunchtime the Swans host Aston Villa as their Premier League adventure reaches a crucial phase. Having played five of the top seven teams in their first dozen matches, the Welshmen now have three on the bounce (Blackburn and Fulham to follow) which all look winnable. If they were to do so, their League position would begin to resemble their burgeoning reputation, interest would soar and the rumours of transfer-window moves for the likes of Joe Allen and Nathan Dwyer would intensify.

"I wouldn't see that as a problem," said Rodgers. "When clubs are interested in our players it means we're doing something right. It's not being arrogant, but I'm not sure there are many clubs where players can have a better way of life and work than at Swansea."

Many would raise their eyebrows at that statement. The city of Swansea is many things but it is not fashionable among the Baby Bentley brigade. Regardless of geography, the club is among the lower payers in the elite division, making it an enticing place for predators. Rodgers is making sure his young men know all about the glitters-gold maxim.

"Yeah, the players may go away and earn more money," he said. "But I know through experience that it doesn't ultimately make you happy or successful. What is key among this group is they've seen the players who have left here. Have they gone on and furthered their careers? They probably haven't. They might be financially better off, but sooner rather than later that doesn't come into it."

Rodgers is alluding to the likes of the goalkeeper Dorus De Vries, the midfielder Darren Pratley and the playmaker Leon Britton. The first-named has yet to appear in the Premier League for Wolves, the second is in the bottom three with Bolton Wanderers, while the last left for Sheffield United last year before begging to come back in January. Rodgers is prone to dust off these cases whenever theitchy-footed come knocking at his door.

"The prime example was Neil Taylor in the summer," said Rodgers. "Neil had the chance to go to Newcastle United. He would have had a great chance of playing for a big club and been able to improve his personal life in terms of wages."

So how did Rodgers convince Taylor not to trigger a clause in his contract, force Swansea to accept the £1 million bid and so earn himself somewhere in the region of an extra £500,000 a year?

"I was able to sell Neil the vision of what we're trying to achieve here," explained Rodgers. "He's made fantastic strides from coming in from the non-League [Wrexham] last year, but as a player you want to know you can improve. It wasn't just the present, I had to give him a sense of the future and where I think he can go and what his development should be. There's no doubt for me he is going to be one of the top full-backs in the country. He's shown that already and he has got no experience at this level."

Rodgers is unashamedly romantic when it comes to Swansea. "There is something unique about the place as a football club and a city," he said. "I've only been here 16 months but I feel as if it's my home and my people nearly."

Rodgers also revealed he is ready to open new contract talks. The board would be wise to act now, while the passion rages at its zenith. The players will not be the only Swans in demand.

Swansea City v Aston Villa is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 1.30pm

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