Swansea City: Luke Williams’ plan to compete in the Championship

Swansea City: Luke Williams' plan to compete in the Championship
Luke Williams celebrates Swansea's victory over Cardiff in MarchHuw Evans Picture Agency

Luke Williams says Swansea City must “get many things right” if they are to “fight with the big boys” in the Championship next season.

Swansea’s players are enjoying a summer break having ended a turbulent 2023-24 campaign in mid-table.

But for Williams, work will not stop even though there is no league fixture to focus on for the next three months.

Instead, Swansea’s head coach explains, the focus of his “energy and anxiety” has turned to the 2024-25 campaign.

At the top of the agenda, for the moment, is the shape of Williams’ squad.

Swansea have six senior players – Kyle Naughton, Nathanael Ogbeta, Joe Allen, Liam Walsh, Jamie Paterson and Liam Walsh – who are out of contract next month.

Offers have been made to those players the club want to keep, with news of who will depart expected soon.

More significant than which players stay is who will come in.

With six loan players already gone, there are numerous vacancies in Swansea’s squad and there is a need to have a more successful summer transfer window than in 2023, when too many of the club’s numerous signings did not work out.

“We need to be really smart about how we recruit players,” Williams told BBC Sport Wales.

Swansea must strengthen every department of their squad, while the potential exit of Nathan Wood – an asset with admirers who has only a year left on his contract – could leave another sizeable hole to fill.

The quality – and depth – in Swansea’s playing staff will of course be pivotal to their chances of progressing next term.

But Williams stresses that many other factors will help decide whether Swansea can improve on a season of struggle.

‘We are going to have to be a really good team’

“I am aware that we are not a superpower in the Championship,” he said.

“We are going to have to be a good team rather than relying on one or two individuals, and certainly we have a way to go before we can be considered a really good team.

“But that’s encouraging because in the last third of the season, I think we were in the top six in terms of points and crucial data.”

Swansea won six and lost only four of their last 13 league games of the season.

They conceded 11 goals during that run, at an average of 0.84 per game. Champions Leicester City finished the Championship season with the fewest goals conceded – 41 – at an average at 0.89 per game.

Swansea’s recent record is therefore very encouraging for Williams, though there is a recognition that his team must next deliver over the course of a season, not only 13 games.

Carl Rushworth warms up before a Swansea game

Huw Evans Picture Agency

There are other “good signs”, Williams points out, alongside room for improvement.

“We need to be smart about what minutes we give which players – who is suffering, who is in a good place mentally, who is in a good place physically, who is quicker to recover,” he said.

“We need to be double-switched on with tactics, how we approach our set-pieces. Then we need to train so training gives the boys the chance to be at their optimum level for a certain style of play. Then we have to impose that style of play, because we can’t condition the players correctly in a certain way if we don’t play like that every week.

“We need to get many things correct to have a chance of being able to fight with the big boys.”

Six years since they were relegated from the Premier League, Swansea are not among the second tier’s financial heavyweights.

As a result, many of those proven Championship players who are available this summer are likely to be out of Swansea’s reach, because bigger payers will make better offers.

Williams says Swansea are trying to “hack the trends” by competing with more powerful clubs – and that one key to their chances is style of play.

“We have the second-most possession in the Championship. We have almost the highest XG (expected goals) in the Championship,” he said.

“So what does that actually mean? It means we pass the ball well enough to try to score. And we get the ball back quicker than every other team in the Championship now.”

Ronald misses a chance during Swansea's final-day defeat to Millwall

Huw Evans Picture Agency

Therefore, Williams suggests, you do not need to watch his Swansea team to understand how they play.

“They build up with the ball but they don’t build up for no reason, they build up to try to score,” he added.

“And when you get it, they try to get it back off you really quickly.

“We’ve shown that we can handle the ball enough, we can get to the opposition’s box enough. We’ve shown that by and large we can get the ball back pretty well and we can defend our goal pretty well.

“We have also shown we don’t score enough for the chances we create.”

So the key to Swansea climbing the table next season is making more of the opportunities they create?

“I totally agree,” Williams said. “I think if we change that, we are in a really good place.”

Related Topics

  • Welsh Football
  • Swansea City
  • Championship
  • Football
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