Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Swansea City: 3 Candidates to Replace Garry Monk

The axe fell with some inevitability on Garry Monk on Wednesday afternoon. With Swansea City chairman Huw Jenkins telling the press just 24 hours earlier that "something has to change", it had become a question of when and not if Monk would depart.

Contrary to the common media narrative of a club "hitting the panic button" after a sharp downturn in form, a gradual deterioration of the team's style of play and lack of an overriding vision had seen concerns build amongst fans, the board, and- most worryingly- a seemingly bemused and frustrated first team squad.

Even last season, when praise was being lavished upon the former Swansea captain, the expansive and attractive football for which the team were famed and lauded since the arrival of Roberto Martinez had all but vanished, despite having the most accomplished- and highly paid- squad in the club's history. Only a tight defensive unit and the endeavours of outstanding individuals elevated the team to an improbable eighth position.

With the disintegration of that previously near impregnable defence, Monk's position became untenable, and the club will now seek out a man who can restore the footballing values which became integral to Swansea as a global brand. They will also require someone who possesses sufficient pedigree that- in the short term- Premier League status next season will be assured.

Here are three potential candidates that might fulfil the board's criteria:

Marcelo Bielsa:
A manager once described by Pep Guardiola as "the best in the world", Bielsa's reputation as a coach is beyond reproach. In an era where managers are praised as "students of the game", the Argentine is the nearest the sport has to a professor.

Bielsa allies intensity and peerless tactical knowledge with a disciplinarian's fastidiousness and rigour. Should the squad and staff of Swansea need shaking up, Bielsa isn't a man who would think twice about doing so.

His teams are known for their high tempo and fearless attacking philosophy, which would surely delight the fans starved of such excitement over the last 18 months. He is also unattached and could join the club immediately, the only question being whether Huw Jenkins and co. could accommodate the needs of one of the most demanding managers in the game.

Lucien Favre:
The enigmatic Swiss would be an choice out of left-field, but he certainly possesses many of the qualities that would lend himself to the best of the club's recent traditions.

Like Bielsa, he is a fastidious individual with an exhaustive knowledge of the game and a complete vision of how each position on the pitch should be played according to the system selected. His appointment would almost certainly herald a return to the high-tempo passing football that characterised Swansea's ascent, and his renowned ability to develop young players and thrive on a modest budget would be attractive to the board.

The one potential drawback is that the enigmatic qualities that make him an attractive proposition could also see him become a target of the predatory English media should the team stutter. He has also been known to depart abruptly after sudden slumps, as he did at previous club Mönchengladbach, leaving their chairman despairing at losing a man whom he regarded as the club's best ever manager.

Phillip Cocu:
Less celebrated than his former Dutch team mate and managerial sparring partner Frank De Boer, Cocu goes about his business in very much the same way as he did as a player: unassuming, intelligent, and squeezing every last drop out of the talent and resources made available to him

An impeccable CV as a player saw him win over 100 caps for the Netherlands, five league titles- including one with Barcelona in La Liga- and his managerial apprenticeship took him to a World Cup final as assistant manager. Cocu is a man with exceptional experience at the very top level.

He was typically patient and calculated in preparing for his chance in the hot-seat at Eindhoven, where he has been universally praised for the consistent quality of his team's football, and his role in developing young talents like Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay.

Although still under contract, the compensation would be affordable for the Swans, and having had much of his young team sold from under him last summer, he may think this is the right time- and Swansea the right club- to chance his arm in a major European league. His considered manner and relative youth mean he could be attractive as a stabilising and long-term solution for the Swansea City board.

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