Josh Kilmister: “Llorente signing an ‘if only’ moment”
With the beginning of a new Premier League campaign just around the corner, you could forgive Swansea fans for being a little nervous.
Andre Ayew, their top scorer last season, has joined West Ham for a fee of around £20m, and captain Ashley Williams left the Liberty in order to join Ronald Koeman’s Everton.
But with new American owners at the club, transfer activity has been positive claims Josh Kilmister, albeit being left rather late.
The Jacks have recruited World Cup and Europa League winner Fernando Llorente, as well as Atletí’s Borja Bastón who scored 19 goals in 38 appearances on loan at Eibar last season.
“When rumours first surfaced of us signing Llorente, it was almost one of those ‘if only…’ moments, so to see him holding up the Swans’ number 9 jersey was definitely a huge moment.
“Past his prime or not, the experience he’ll bring to the squad is invaluable,” Josh added.
“He may find himself as a backup though, as our preferred 4-2-3-1 will be unlikely to exclude Borja, who looks a real talent!
“Baston looks to have several similar qualities to Michu, and hopefully he can deliver just like his fellow Spaniard did, but whatever happens, our attack is looking a lot healthier than it did last season already – even after losing Ayew.”
However, having lost Ashley Williams, who was at the club for eight years, may prove to be a bigger void to fill.
It’s not as much the footballer in him that’ll be hard to replace but the heart, desire and commitment he had every game,” Josh added, after explaining that Ashley Williams’ drop in form last season means that replacements are available.
“I’m looking forward to Jordi Amat getting his well deserved shot in the first team, while Mike van Der Hoorn should help us improve on our dreadful set piece defending.”
Anderlecht’s Kara Mbodji has been circulating the rumour mill, while James Chester has chosen a move to Championship side Aston Villa instead.
“Anyone who comes in wouldn’t necessarily be a direct replacement for Williams, as I feel our defence as it stands is good enough to compete,” added the Swansea season-ticket holder.
Although Kilmister was unsure of how far the new owner’s will be able to take the club, he was pleased with their activity in the transfer market, but noted that there were other priorities too.
“It’s relatively early days for them at the club yet, but our recent business in the transfer market has certainly painted them in a positive light. But it’s hard to say exactly how much we can expect to grow under them given how recently they’ve come onto the scene.”
“Personally, I think a stadium expansion will be a high priority giving that we stay up this season, and that should help us push on even more – both as a club and a city in general.”
The end of last season was marred with speculation at the Liberty, after temporary head coach Francesco Guidolin had successfully guided the club to Premier League survival, no one was quite sure who would take over at the club on a permanent basis.
While former boss Brendan Rodgers remained unemployed, the Swans opted to extend Guidolin’s contract for a further two years.
Francesco Guidolin was able to save the club from relegation last season, and his target for the new campaign will be to do the same.
“It would’ve been unfair to judge him either way on last season as the team was in meltdown when he came in, so given that he comfortably met his target of keeping us up, it was only fair for him to get another crack of the whip this season” said Josh.
“Personally, my first choice was to get Brendan Rodgers back but when Guidolin was announced it grew on me quite quickly.
“He’s obviously a very talented coach and has worked our squad really hard this pre-season which has shown with some of our performances, despite being against poorer opposition.”
Swansea kick-off the new campaign with a trip to Burnley, who despite being newly promoted from the Championship are no strangers to life in the Premier League.
Josh explained; “It’d be easy to see Burnley as a pushover, but they certainly won’t be. André Gray will definitely be one to watch in the league this year, but I think we may just edge it on the weekend.
“Sean Dyche will have his side well drilled and they won’t be easy to break down, but with Borja not involved until our game next week, I’m hoping Llorente can stake his place for a start against Hull in the following week.”
While many people were writing Swansea off a few weeks ago, a number of summer additions to the squad have certainly boosted their spirits, and Josh is feeling confident of Premier League survival with the squad looking “as good as it’s ever been.”
Josh’s prediction: Burnley 1 – 3 Swansea
My prediction: Burnley 0 – 2 Swansea