5 candidates for new Swansea City manager
Background photo: Christopher Elkins, CC BY 2.0
The Championship challenged Swansea City following the Welsh side's relegation last summer after seven consecutive campaigns in the Premier League. Graham Potter arrived to conjure up his magic and stabilise the sinking ship. A 10th-place finish and a spirited FA Cup quarterfinal run, ending in defeat to eventual winners Manchester City, represented a successful salvation job.
However, like the Defense Against the Dark Arts chair at Hogwarts, the Swansea managerial hot seat regularly entertains a new occupant. After shocking English football by dismissing Chris Hughton, Brighton recruited Potter to weave his spells in the Premier League. Recently appointed Swans chairman Trevor Birch is now tasked with finding a replacement.
Here are five candidates.
John's son, the Welshman is the early favourite. His father's status in the country and with the club make him an appealing choice from a marketing perspective. The 49-year-old hasn't managed a senior squad but coached at Welsh Premier League Neath Athletic and under his father with the Macedonia national team.
He doesn't come in cold, however. Since 2015, Toshack served as Swansea's U23 manager. In four years, he achieved a Premier League 2 Division 2 title and a semi-final appearance in the Premier League International Cup. His team also made back-to-back Premier League Cup finals, winning 2-0 in 2016/17 against Reading and losing on penalties in 2017/18 to Aston Villa.
At the very least, appointing Toshack would save the Swans a compensation fee. However, no managerial experience may count against Toshack. Championship management is an unforgiving environment.
You might have heard about the former Newcastle, Birmingham and Brighton boss' availability. The 60-year-old could trade places with Potter.
Hughton is a high-calibre Championship specialist. In 2009-10, he led Newcastle back to the top flight after just one season in the second tier. In 2011-12, he led Birmingham to the playoffs in their first season back in the second tier. Two-and-a-half seasons after being appointed by the Seagulls, he took them to the Premier League.
However, his pedigree at Championship level and his ability to keep a team in the Premier League after promotion like at Brighton may convince Hughton to wait. A vacancy could easily arise at a lower Premier League club or another ambitious Championship club come October. He may not be eager to step into another job so quickly.
A face familiar with Championship fans, the 55-year-old Nottingham native is a free agent after leaving Belgian second-tier side OH Leuven in February.
Pearson has a good track record in the Championship. In 2009/10 and 2012/13, he led Leicester into Championship play-off positions, losing to Cardiff City and Watford. After winning the Championship title in 2013/14, Pearson produced the impossible escape from relegation in the Premier League in 2014/15. He couldn't avoid the sack when his son sullied the family name during Leicester's subsequent Asian tour.
Pearson laid the foundation for Claudio Ranieri's success at the King Power. Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, Robert Huth, Danny Simpson, Marc Albrighton and Danny Drinkwater were all purchased by Pearson at bargain rates. His thrift and eye for talent should appeal to the budget-strapped Swans.
That said, appointing Pearson is risky. His notorious pressers and playful [?] tussle with James McArthur during a match are the stuff of legend. Trevor Birch must decide whether the club is prepared to carry that type of baggage.
The Newport County gaffer is a shooting star in English football management. The 38-year-old was appointed to the Exiles on 9th March 2017. The club sat 11 points adrift of safety in League Two. Flynn led a great escape of his own. His first full season lifted the club to 11th, his second to seventh. Tranmere Rovers ended their promotion hopes at Wembley. In each of the last two seasons, Flynn has taken County deep into the FA Cup. It took Premier League top-six clubs to end the runs and Tottenham required a replay last term.
His admirers include Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. Newport’s budget this season was reportedly the third lowest in League Two. As noted, Swansea can use a boss who can do more with less. Flynn is aware he'll lose players after a strong campaign. Maybe he'll want to move up himself, starting over in new surroundings rather than familiar, even if he is Newport-born and bred.
If he does make the leap, two levels might be too far this early in his career. If his third season at Rodney Parade proves to be Mourinho-esque, he'll have the patience of club and supporters. He won't get that luxury in South Wales. Since Brendan Rodgers departed for Liverpool in 2012, seven 'permanent' managers have stood in the technical area.
Watching Mikel Arteta work as Pep Guardiola's second at Manchester City is a bit like watching Rui Faria do the same with Jose Mourinho. One wonders if Arteta is willing to put in 17 years with Pep, though.
He has enjoyed great success under the former Barcelona and Bayern boss but has his own ambitions. He was an early favourite for the Arsenal job before the Gunners moved for Unai Emery. Three years under Guardiola ought to be enough for the Spaniard to take on his own club.
Swansea might even dare hope for a pipeline to young City talent needing regular playing time. Frank Lampard used his Chelsea connections well at Derby County this season. Lampard made the Championship final at Wembley with no previous coaching experience. Could Arteta, a playmaking midfielder in his career as well, do better?
The drawback to hiring Arteta is the potential compensation to be paid to City. Given his status, it's likely to be a hefty fee too. If Birch is an astute negotiator, he might mitigate the expense with a loan arrangement. If that isn't on, Arteta might have to wait for his opportunity again.
The Swans can take solace in the fact a coach in his first managerial stint is hardly a sure thing. For every Frank Lampard, there's a Gary Neville, a Thierry Henry and a Paul Scholes.