Graham Potter knows Swansea City’s youngsters must improve at solving puzzles like Bolton – but he’s willing to let them learn.
Whether all, or some, or even Potter himself is still around to continue the education next season remains to be seen.
The Swans’ 2-0 victory at home to Bolton on Saturday was not without its frustrations as first Potter’s side struggled to break down a 10-man defensive set-up and then suffered the same thing with only nine.
After former Cardiff City winger Craig Noone and David Wheater were sent off, Oli McBurnie – who missed a first-half penalty – and Bersant Celina scored to make certain their team eventually picked up the points.
“The hardest thing to do is play against a team with a defensive mindset and you have to find the answers all the time,” said Potter.
“They showed understanding as well because a team going down to 10 men does not necessarily give you an advantage in the key areas of the pitch.
“We had to overcome that but if you look over the 90 minutes we deserved the win, and I am really pleased for the players who put a lot of work in.
“For a young group, for young players to have the courage in each other, the support of each other to react well means I am really pleased. We were humble enough to understand the challenge and we created chances and, in the end, scored two goals.”
With most of the clubs above Swansea suffering a bad day, the win leaves the Swans seven points off the play-offs with 12 matches left.
To reach 75 points – the tally achieved by Derby last season, who finished sixth – Potter’s side would need to gather another 28 points from a dozen games and nothing so far this season suggests they are capable of such a consistent run of form that would require at least another eight victories.
Potter’s main aim should be to keep the likes of McBurnie, Celina, Daniel James, Connor Roberts and others believing it still might be worth hanging around for another go at promotion next season.
If the club’s American owners are keen to sell those youngsters then Potter will realise his own reputation is likely to take a dive along with results next season and there will be little point in him hanging around.
Bolton manager Phil Parkinson had no problem with Wheater’s dismissal for tripping Wayne Routldge when the Swans striker was clear, but was angered by Noone’s second yellow card just before the break.
“If those tackles are yellow cards, then we may as well rule out tackling all together in professional football,” raged Parkinson.
“It’s a bad decision by the referee. Craig has gone into a challenge to block the ball in the middle of the pitch, and I’m not sure how you can tackle any fairer than that.”