Swansea City manager Graham Potter has given an explanation as to why he experimented with his starting line-ups during the first half of the season having now established a more settled strongest XI.
The former Ostersund boss received criticism from some supporters for his constant tinkering, not just constant player changes but switches between formations too. His decision to field a back three against Wigan Athletic was arguably the one that was criticised the most.
Explaining his reasons for the first half of the season, during Monday’s pre-match press conference, Potter told the media:
“You have the first half of the season where we try and find out as much as we can about the squad, we had to turn the environment from quite a negative one to one of opportunity.”
“Players need to feel close to the starting XI for that to happen, and we’re all learning and we make mistakes.
Sometimes people think you can wave the wand and turn things around. Through that process I think you get improvement. Hopefully that improvement can stay consistent. We haven’t got anything cracked.”
Somewhat surprisingly, Potter has gone with continuity in 2019, making only one forced change in our opening FA Cup tie away at Aston Villa before making four changes for the visit of Gillingham last Saturday. But again, those changes were forced with the likes of Rodon, Routledge and Naughton all unavailable due to injury.
Talking about players who “need to feel close to the starting XI”, Potter gave opportunities to the likes of Joel Asoro, Barrie McKay, Yan Dhanda and George Byers. They all had their moments but they were all too brief and have since struggled to re-establish themselves as potential starters.
Asoro, Byers and Dhanda have all had to play for the under-23s since to rebuild confidence and ensure that they are match fit while McKay returned for Saturday’s FA Cup 4th round win at home against Gillingham. He was involved in 3 of the goals, scoring one himself but he still shows signs that he needs to be a lot stronger in possession and looks physically weak, unable to compete with the likes of experienced pro’s like Routledge and Dyer who use their strength well to keep hold of possession in tight and difficult situations.