It’s that time of year again as the players return to pre-season training and the preparations begin in earnest for the new season which is now just five weeks away.
There is a level of symmetry in all of that as it is, of course, just five weeks since our last season ended with defeat against Brentford against Wembley but it seems so much longer given the amount of discussion there has been over the future of the manager.
We are led to believe he was interviewed by Crystal Palace. And we are possibly even led to believe that he was interviewed by them more than once. He was first choice, then he wasn’t, then he was, then he wasn’t again before being an option once more before they moved on to another target again. Did he go for an interview? It seems likely but, let’s be perfectly fair here, there are very few people who actually know this for certain with most just hearing from third parties and if you hear something enough it gets passed off as fact.
Then there was Fulham. Maybe a slight surprise at the start not so much the link with Cooper but the fact that Scott Parker was moving on to start with. Cooper was the bookies favourite before Parker had even shut the door to the Cottage but then it was Wilder and all the time they had an eye on Marco Silva. Left field it was said to be. Well, for everyone other than Fulham obviously.
So now we assume that two clubs wanted Cooper (although we don’t know for certain) and that Cooper wants away from Swansea (again we don’t know this for certain.) Cooper was said to have held talks with Julian Winter (another one nobody knows for certain) and it has been reported that the only thing that put both the linked clubs off was the compensation figure of £3m (something else we don’t know for certain)
So what do we know? Well there is the obvious, Steve Cooper is this morning as much the manager of Swansea City as he was when we left the Wembley turf five weeks ago. That hasn’t changed. He may have looked likely to be almost ready to leave and go elsewhere (was he though?) but right now we have a team returning to pre-season under the same manager they had last season.
We have made some signings already which is of course good news as we needed them. We have some second guessing as to whether they are Steve Cooper signings or whether they were signed in readiness for his departure. The latter I doubt very much but concede it is possible and if it is the case then we don’t look very bright as a football club.
We also know that Cooper is unlikely to walk and the club are unlikely to sack him. At least right now anyway. Why do we know that? Cooper has hinted but never confirmed that he was looking to move on and the club have – rightly so – maintained a dignified silence throughout it all. No indication they are unhappy and no indication that the manager has told them he is not committed to the club.
Reports surfaced that the Swans were drawing up a managerial shortlist. Newsflash here is that we have done that pretty much all the time. Sadly sometimes the managerial short list stopped (and started) at the name Garry Monk but there will always be one. Newsflash number two will be that there is managerial shortlists throughout the football league at most clubs (especially at this level) and Steve Cooper’s name will be on many. Most clubs (and most good businesses) have contingency plans for certain events and for a football club the loss of a manager is clearly one of those.
So we know what we know and we know what we think we know but we don’t know that for certain (the bit about what we think we know not the fact that we know it – keeping up at the back?) but what we definitely don’t know is what will happen next.
Steve Cooper is almost certain (but not guaranteed) to be in the Swans dug out when the season opens at Blackburn but after two play off campaigns that shouldn’t be a surprise and nor should the speculative links of the summer. Cooper, as would most managers, will of course always be flattered by interest (we assume) and – as works for most of the people in the world – steps up. bigger pay packets and bigger budgets will always be of interest. Even if he talked to Palace it doesn’t make him less committed to Swansea City it just means that contingency plan that we referenced earlier could be more detailed and more urgent. But what will happen is Steve Cooper will be here until that offer comes along to take him away (and I think it is fair to assume that he probably hasn’t had that offer but even that could be a wrong assumption) or the Swans decide that the results are so bad that he needs to leave. And, on the evidence of his two seasons to date, that seems pretty unlikely. And it will remain that way for as long as the two parties have a contract.
The discussions have been interesting, the rumours even more so and it has passed the five weeks quite quickly. Focus now turns on adding additional reinforcements to the squad, the start of pre-season training and a reasonably busy schedule of games in the next four weeks.
But for now, the managerial rumours can be put to bid. Just not firmly…