Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
Swansea City’s 2018-19 campaign will likely be remembered for their impressive FA Cup run, which has seen them achieve a Quarter-Final date with Manchester City.
Graham Potter has certainly endeared himself to the natives since taking charge in the summer, even if results have not been directly in line with what some would, in most circumstances, expect from a club coming down from the Premier League.
Potter has done wonders with what he has available to him. He will lose more of his better players though and so far there's nothing to suggest they'll be replaced. So much potential there but can't be fulfilled with our current owners.
— Swans Analytics (@SwansAnalytics) February 25, 2019
Potter has not had the appropriate backing from the board, so it is perhaps convenient that he has such a zest for developing academy graduates.
Centre-back Joe Rodon, right-back Connor Roberts and wide forward Daniel James have all benefited, with the latter starring enough to earn a January move to Leeds, at least until Huw Jenkins pulled the plug at the last minute on that deal – as well as the departure of midfielder Leroy Fer.
The long-serving Jenkins has recently stood down as chairman and while Swans fans will not exactly be sad to see him go, they are also not particularly enthusiastic about the possibility of increased control for American owners, Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan.
With the chairman position currently vacant, the club is in a state of limbo and, while Potter has done very well to coach young players to a high standard and introduce a brand of patient, possession play, he has his work cut out and that showed in their last road trip, a 3-1 loss at Sheffield Wednesday.
For all the turmoil at Bolton Wanderers, there appears to have been a small glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, both off the field and on it.
Firstly, recent reports suggest there have been small steps towards chairman Ken Anderson leaving the club which, considering how he has conducted himself in that role, especially with regards to payment for the Christian Doidge transfer, must be considered a positive.
Secondly, the team has shown signs of fight in their battle against the drop, aside from the recent 4-0 home defeat to an excellent Norwich side.
Next to the composed Joe Williams, Callum Connolly has added fresh energy in midfield – he was one of the Trotters’ better players in the recent 2-0 home defeat to West Brom, then scored the winner in a crucial 1-0 victory at Birmingham.
In the most recent road trip, Bolton lost 2-1 at Leeds courtesy of a winning goal that took a cruel deflection, but they did not look like a side 21 places below their hosts.
There were also signs of Josh Magennis linking up well with late substitute Sammy Ameobi, which could be the way forward for them.
After the game today iam A firm beeliver that we will make it. Something in the display has changed. A lot more heart and will in it now. The energy that come of Williams and Connolly, can be the thing that swing it around, together with some very old and calm heads out there.
— Patrik Ruppel (@PatrikLoveBWFC) February 23, 2019
As Magennis showed at Charlton, he is the type of striker that can have a good game without scoring; he runs the channels selflessly and has the physical qualities to hold the ball up for others, which can sometimes go unnoticed.
Ameobi, meanwhile, operates in a slightly deeper position but he takes more responsibility in possession, he is a productive dribbler and can conjure up that bit of magic from outside the box – if, that is, he gets over any recent fitness issues and rediscovers his form from the second half of last season.
The task for Parkinson, in these remaining 12 games, could be to build a disciplined unit of eight outfielders who will protect the penalty area, then get the team to play the ball forward early to bring that combination of Magennis and Ameobi to life, should the latter start over more of a classic centre-forward in Clayton Donaldson.
The odds remain against Bolton to bridge the four-point gap to safety between now and May, however there is a lot at stake for them going into this game in comparison with their hosts and they look reasonable value to avoid defeat.
Double Chance: Draw/Bolton 6/4