THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

31 May ~ Here we go again. Hanging onto players is supposed to be one of the challenges of upward mobility, but for Swansea the problem is with managers. Brendan Rodgers' departure to Liverpool means the club's close-season will be dominated, for the third time in four years, by the search for a new boss. He follows on from Paulo Sousa, who left for Leicester in 2010, and Roberto Martinez, who joined Wigan a year earlier. As usual, it hurts. We liked Rodgers, the football his team played and the results they produced. He seemed to like us and his frequent encomia to the friendliness of Swansea's people and the beauty of its hinterland (both true, incidentally) will be much missed by the local tourist board.

We knew we wouldn't have him for ever, but thought there was probably another year in it. But we're getting used to it. Some will label Rodgers a Judas and the atmosphere of any early season visit by Liverpool to the Liberty could be interesting, but he is unlikely to attract the venom that pursued Martinez. After that loss, many Swans fans vowed to never put as much trust in a manager again. Rodgers' "big job" logic will also convince more fans than Martinez's essentially emotional reasons for joining Wigan.

If there is an upside to this sequence of departures, it is that chairman Huw Jenkins and the board are becoming well practiced at finding replacements at this time of year. There is also the fact that, although all the plaudits for Rodgers have been deserved, Swansea are less dependent on their managers than most clubs.

The club's strategy has been to create a long-term culture and appoint managers to fit that rather than expecting each new boss to redefine the place in his own image. Unless there is a major change of policy, Rodgers' successor will be expected to accept long-standing elements, such as assistants Alan Curtis and Colin Pascoe. At the same time, the manager remains the most important person at the Liberty and a bad appointment would almost certainly take a club that is punching at least a division above its weight down a league.

One immediate concern is how Rodgers' departure will impact the impending record signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson. The reported £5 million compensation clause in Rodgers' contract will help with the transfer fee, but it remains to be seen whether his departure could complicate or even negate the transfer. Having it go through straightforwardly would calm a lot of nerves.

There is every reason to have faith in Jenkins and the board as they look for a successor. Rodgers is the fifth consecutive manager to leave the Swans better than he found them. This sole downside to this record of successful appointments is the snarkily pessimistic voice at the back of any fan's mind, which says the law of averages means they are bound to screw up soon.

We know from past appointments that the club will be immune to the charms of the "big name" – at least as defined in media terms. The club recognise, as Rodgers did in rejecting the parallel demand for "experienced Premier League players" after winning promotion last year – that this is essentially a formula for acquiring highly priced mediocrity. 

The club has shown a marked taste for young managers with some experience. Martinez was the only complete novice but his talent, intelligence and managerial ambitions were well known from his time as a player at the club.

There is a good chance the man appointed will not be in work elsewhere. The Swans last took another club's manager when Terry Yorath returned for his second term in 1990 and that happened under bizarre circumstances. Bradford City were happy to be shot of him and the Swans had to halt a breach of contract action from his previous departure in order to take him back. The club will also want someone who fits the football culture established at the Liberty.

Among other possible candidates, there is no good reason why Gus Poyet would leave Brighton; Ian Holloway might want the job but he is perhaps too flaky and is unproven as a defensive organiser. Steve Davis's tenure at Crewe has been compelling. His team are a better footballing side than the Swans were when they were promoted from League Two, but two-thirds of a season of success there looks too limited a credential. Even before he took the job at Crawley, Sean O'Driscoll may have been considered a little too old at 54.

If the club are seeking a continental sensibility combined with a proven ability to push small clubs beyond their apparent limits by playing pure football, José Ramón Sandoval fits the bill perfectly. He is available after being discarded by Rayo Vallecano, but I'll admit to not knowing if he even speaks English, much less wants to manage outside Spain.

As the guessing game begins for fans and the board start their search, the underlying fear is that the change in management will reverse the remarkable momentum of recent years. We will end up punching closer to our weight one day, probably fairly soon – there is a limit to how long even the best-run small clubs can go on beating odds so heavily stacked against them – but if the board's skill in spotting managerial talent continues, there's no reason why it should be now. Huw Richards

Comments (6)
Comment by Liffrok 2012-05-31 16:04:47

It's about time Paul Tisdale got a sniff of a proper job. He's done amazing things with Exeter.

Comment by pashley 2012-05-31 16:55:35

Good article Huw. I don't hate Rogers for going. Just disappointed in him. Surrised Pascoe has gone as well.

Comment by PRB 2012-05-31 17:26:36

As a Liverpool fan I do feel bad for Swansea because he had done well with. I had become a big fan of their style of play and of how they have proved a lot of people wrong last season. I really hope Swansea can find the right replacement that keeps them playing good football and keeps them a fixture in the Premier League beyond next year.

As for Rogers appointment, I like it. No it's not the 'big classy European name' but it didn't need to be. A young man familiar with the league, who knows what Liverpool will be about, who has a good philosophy on the game and who is ambitious will do me nicely. I know the fans will get behind him, I just hope ownership understand it could take the length of his contract to get Liverpool anywhere near the top, or even the Champions League again. I hope he's given the time to mould the team to his way of thinking.

Comment by Applemask 2012-05-31 18:02:35

Calling it now: Rodgers will last six months before being fired as soon as he loses three games in a row.

Comment by Henryk Stolarz 2012-05-31 19:41:59

Really good article (typically from this writer) which points out some of the many ways that the Jacks are shaming my club forty miles down the road with their set-up.

Comment by djw 2012-05-31 23:39:20

Before I started reading the article my first thought was Karl Robinson, but maybe Davis would be a brave and rewarding appointment. What he's done a Crewe in a short time is nothing short of remarkable AND he'd probably bring Nick Powell with him.

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