Swansea City fans know the drill. Make signings which prompt cautious optimism, start badly, fail to arrest the slump and then sack the manager in January before staying up. Repeat.
This season has been no different for the Jack Army who, despite the losses of Fernando Llorente and Gylfi Sigurðsson, were encouraged by the loan signing of Chelsea starlet Tammy Abraham, the return of cult hero Wilfried Bony and the capture of Roque Mesa from Las Palmas.
But the campaign has been an ordeal so far. Swansea are reasonably tight at the back for a team mired in relegation trouble, but that solidity comes at the cost of any creativity or threat in the opposition’s half and the Swans are the Premier League‘s lowest scorers.
Paul Clement, the hero seven months earlier after staving off the threat of relegation, paid with his job in December and it will take a big January transfer window for the optimism to return.
Which areas do Swansea need to strengthen in January and why?
SS: Areas to strengthen are definitely offensively, as the Swans had only scored ten Premier League goals at the time of writing.
Renato Sanches has proven to be smoke and mirrors so a midfielder who can get creative and set up scoring opportunities is paramount. On top of that is the need for a striker who has a knack for finding gaps but is also unselfish in the offensive third.
GL: The most obvious requirement is an attacking midfielder. We never replaced Sigurðsson in the summer and it has cost us. We are the league’s lowest scorers because we create fewer chances than any other side. We are desperately short of creativity. New wingers are also badly needed as none of the ones we have are up to Premier League standards. We could use a new right-back too but the priority has to be further up the pitch.
Name three realistic transfer targets you would like Swansea to sign in January and who should they replace in your starting XI?
SS: Freiburg left-back Christian Gunter would be the man to replace Martin Olsson. He is young and full of pace. As well as being a solid defender he can also be a runner on the left hand side to open up and trouble opposing defences.
Liverpool‘s James Milner to replace Tom Carroll in the centre. He would give us some much-needed experience and toughness in a midfield which has lacked any sort of identity or consistency thus far this season.
Alassane Pléa the Nice strike to come in and replace Jordan Ayew. Pléa is an exciting forward who always seems to find his foot on the ball. Disciplined and unselfish, he has potential to be very special.
GL: Jonathan Viera – He and former Las Palmas team-mate Roque Mesa can get the best out of each other. He could replace Tom Carroll, who has been dreadful all season and finally give us some creativity.
André Ayew – Swansea love going for former players. He did well at the Liberty in his only season here and would add a goal threat and mobility to our side. He would replace his brother in the side. Jordan has the same playing style as Andre, but is worse in every possible way.
Ryan Fredericks – Fredericks is an attack-minded full-back with skill and an end-product. Kyle Naughton tries his best but simply isn’t good enough for this division.
What is your number one fear for January?
SS: My worst fear for January is to go winless thereby destroying confidence and maintaining an iron-clad grip on the bottom of the table.
GL: My main fear is that we will not buy the attacking midfielder we desperately need. There are not many good ones about and fewer still are available in January for a reasonable price.
I can definitely see us trying to compensate by buying players in other areas but unless we buy a specialist No.10, we will go down. I can already see Swansea blowing all the remaining Sigurðsson money on Nacer Chadli, a player we have chased for years, but one who would not solve any of our problems.
What would your dream January transfer window look like?
SS: My – albeit unlikely – dream scenario would be to see Gareth Bale come to his home country and scores a thousand goals this season for the Swans!
GL: My dream transfer window would see Swansea add three attacking players, two wingers and a No.10, with a quality right-back coming in too and if I was being greedy, a back-up left-back to give Martin Olsson some competition.
The toughest one to get is the No.10 but unless we get one, I think January will be a failure. This team needs pace, creativity and players who will take command when things are tough. We could also do with a new manager who can get them attacking more effectively, but that may be too much to ask.