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Swansea City Follow The Boris Johnson Route . . . Wish Hard And It Will Happen

Rather like Boris Johnson’s strategy of suggesting simple optimism can somehow overcome complex problems, Swansea City fans are being asked to put hope ahead of reality again this season.

As the club prepare for their second campaign in the Championship, it is difficult to find many concrete reasons to believe they will end it by returning to the Premier League.

Instead, the chosen path of the American owners seems to reflect that of the new Prime Minister – or perhaps Donald Trump – in hoping that a breezy confidence that everything will be just fine will in itself overcome any difficulties.

Former manager Graham Potter went for a much more cautious approach in his one season in charge. Before leaving for Brighton after achieving a 10th-place finish, Potter rarely talked about promotion.

But his successor Steve Cooper seems far more willing to stress that anything is possible if the players and fans believe, even though they head into their opening match at home to Hull City on Saturday, having just sold their two best players.

The departure of Daniel James to Manchester United for £15m and the imminent loss of Oli McBurnie to Sheffield United for a deal that might end up being worth £20m is hardly a reason for the bookies to cut their odds on the Swans’ chances of promotion.

But Cooper prefers to look on the bright side and has referenced Norwich City – last season’s champions – as evidence of what can be achieved in seemingly adverse conditions.

The Canaries also sold their two most valuable assets last summer – James Maddison to Leicester and Josh Murphy to Cardiff – but are now preparing for life back in the Premier League.

“It’s not abnormal to lose good players,” insists Cooper, who swapped the occasional spotlight of a job with the FA for the day-to-day scrutiny of club management this summer.

“You look at Norwich this time last season and what they went on to do. I’m not saying we’ll do that but it’s not an unusual situation.

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“We really believe in the players that are in the building and they’re proud to play for the football club. We believe that any game we play we’ll be more than competitive if we get it right.”

The difference between Norwich last season and Swansea this time, however, is in the timing of the transfers. Maddison and Murphy left in mid-summer, giving their manager Daniel Farke time to re-shape his squad.

Not for the first time, the Swans have sold their most effective and valuable player one the eve of the campaign, or even after it has started.

Just as with McBurnie now, Gylfi Sigurdsson was sold to Everton late in the day two years ago and a year before that it was the same story with Ashley Williams.

Both the Icelander and the Wales captain had made it clear they wanted to move on long before they eventually did. The only question appeared when and for how much.

Rather than sell early – even if it might have involved trying to create more of a bidding market for McBurnie back in May – Swansea have been de-stablised once more at the start of a new season.

The decision to sell the Scotland striker late on means they now have no recognised centre-forward, other than the unproven Courtney Baker-Richardson, the unreliable Borja Bason, or the unwanted Andre Ayew.

Cooper admitted: “I’m pretty sure we will bring more in but I’m not sure about the exact number.

“We do need a couple of extra bodies and I think we need another striker that’s for sure.”

The hope – and it is hope, more than expectation borne out from his playing record – is that new signing Kristoffer Peterson might at least go some way to filling the gap left by James.

The Swedish international has arrived from Dutch club Heracles for £1m, can play either out wide or through the middle, and was on the fringes at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers.

“We’re excited about that, he’s a player I know from my role with Liverpool,” added Cooper.

“It’s been a while since he was there and he’s carved a career for himself since leaving which I’ve followed. All of the reports have come back positive and here he is for a second spell with me and Mike Marsh.

“He’s attacking and quite versatile. We want that and he can play off different lines. Kris will be a good example of that.

“He’s a great boy, works very hard and as with any players we bring in, they don’t just have to be the right talent, they have to be the right character as well.”

As for the Swans’ overall prospects of success this season, then the bookies make them 12th favourites for promotion – which seems like a reasonable assessment, even if it strikes an unwanted pessimistic note for Cooper.

“It’s definitely a Premier League environment here. There’s lots of things that belong in the Premier League but we’re not there at the moment.

“It’s obviously an aim, but if we start looking that far we’re not focusing on the present. We’ll just focus on Saturday and take it game by game.

“We just want to play in a way that connects us to the fans and build a team they can be proud of.”


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