The Swans have earned a reputation as a great passing team, but is that enough to build into a regular Premiership side?
I would like to congratulate Swansea City on their promotion to the Premiership. As a Welshman I would like to wish them all the best, but as I'm of a Cardiff persuasion I perhaps shouldn't be saying that!
However, Swans fans getting carried away with the thought of being in the top league, and a division above Cardiff City, should be warned - until the team finds a Plan B then they will be relegated.
Everybody wants to see pretty football, as do I, but at times 'tiki taka' football has to be toned down. For Swansea, it's one thing doing it in the Championship week in week out against a lower standard of opposition. But keeping that up successfully in the Premiership is a totally different matter.
Swansea fans may point out that a stylish brand of football works for the likes of Arsenal and Barcelona. Maybe the Jacks are unaware of the gulf in class, but you can't help admire their optimism. As good as players like Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair may be, they aren't quite Cesc Fabregas or Lionel Messi.
Manager Brendan Rodgers, chairman Huw Jenkins and players such as Ashley Williams have come out and said they will not be changing their style, they will stick to their 'pass pass pass' philosophy. In a way you can admire their stubbornness, and their desire to play with swagger. But maybe a pinch of reality is needed at the Liberty Stadium.
Comparisons will inevitably be made with Blackpool. They were promoted by playing in a style similar to Swansea, which they brought into the Premiership. They were relegated on the last day of the season. They started well and surprised many, but their form in the second half of the season dipped alarmingly. Maybe their small squad tired out? Maybe their were just found out once the surprise element wore off? Who knows. At the end of the day, Blackpool are back in the Championship.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are Stoke City. Labelled a 'rugby team' by many (hence the chants of 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot') and regarded as a team dependent on Rory Delap's long throws, they are now in their fourth season in the Premiership. And in their time in the top league, they haven't ever seriously been threatened with relegation. They haven't cared about playing football which is pleasing on the eye, they just care about results - which they have been getting.
But to label Stoke as a one-trick pony is unfair. They may have began their Premiership era with an uncompromising approach, but they have brought in players such as Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington to give them that other dimension. They have now found a balance between the two philosophies and it has proved successful, with an FA Cup final, European football and a regular place in the Premiership proof of that.
If it were a choice between Blackpool's approach or Stoke's approach then I'd have to choose Stoke. Promoted teams who can rough up and intimidate opponents stand a better chance of survival than teams who play sexy football. Bolton Wanderers also came up with a 'Route One' approach, and they are still around ten years on (though their Route One days are behind them now with Owen Coyle at the helm). Maintaining sexy football is, in my view, impractical for a newly promoted club.
The sooner Swansea realise this, the better chance they'll have of survival. Last season they dominated possession in most games, but that might not happen this season. Many times I have heard the Jacks talk about how much possession they had in matches, and they did win most of their games. But at home to Cardiff, they had most of the possession. They lost 0-1. Away to Scunthorpe, they had around 70% possession. They lost 1-2. Possession doesn't win you football matches, goals do.
Swansea were rarely in the position last year where they had to grind out a victory. They didn't often come from behind to win (though I was impressed with their comeback to win 4-3 up at Middlesbrough). Can they actually tone down the constant passing and sacrifice possession in order to grind out results in a slightly different manner in the Premier League? If they can, then they may just stay up. If not, then they have no chance.