Steve Cooper’s Swansea City have surprised everyone this season, as he perfects the balance of youth and experience in his squad.
Winning seven of their opening eight games in all competitions, no team started the season better than Swansea.
Under their new manager Steve Cooper they got off to an unprecedented start to the Championship season and asserted themselves as the early front-runners in the division.
Results quickly dropped off though and the Swans won just one game between September and October. Back-to-back wins were followed by a draw at Sheffield Wednesday last time out, and Cooper’s side seem to be finding their footing again.
As the table begins to spread out, Swansea have maintained their top-six spot. They went into the international break in 4th-place with 29 points from 16 games – four behind leaders West Brom.
The story of Cooper and Swansea is a fascinating one. His initial appointment didn’t excite fans all that much and many had tipped them to have a difficult season under Cooper, given it’s his first job in first-team management.
He was brought into the club for his experience and knowledge of young, British footballers having worked in the England youth set-up previously.
The emergence of youth at Swansea this season has been evident under Cooper as well. Joe Rodon has been a revelation under the Englishman who’s also brought in the likes of Sam Surridge and Freddie Woodman on-loan for the season.
But all the youthfulness in the Swansea side is greeted by some steady, experienced heads in the side, the likes of Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Mike van der Hoorn.
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These three amongst others have been important to proceedings at Swansea this season and Cooper will know how valuable it is to have more experienced heads in the dressing room when there’s so many young in there.
Routledge is 34-years-old now and has been at the club since 2011. He’s part of the furniture there and will have a great understanding of the club, so too will Nathan Dyer who first joined the club in 2010 and got his first goal of the season against Wigan at the start of this month.
Cooper is quickly finding the right blend of young and old at Swansea and that’s what allowed them to be so prolific under Cooper, especially in the earlier parts of the season.
The wheels looked to be falling off at Swansea but they’re slowly steadying the ship, and Cooper will need his older boys to help keep it that way.