According to news reports, the
players decided to cancel the traditional holiday gathering after suffering a 3-0 loss at Middlesbrough last weekend that left the Swans tied for last place with just 12 points from 17 games.
Manager Bob Bradley is planning to upgrade a few positions during the upcoming transfer window in January but is urging his players not to look that far ahead.
The only two victories during Bradley’s 10 games in charge occurred in the last two home games against Crystal Palace (5-4) and Sunderland (3-0), and next up are two more at the Liberty Stadium: West Ham United on Boxing Day, and Bournemouth on New Year’s Eve.
Those two games close out the first one-half of the season and given that a very rough stretch of league games starts after the FA Cup third round is staged Jan. 7-8, it is imperative for Swansea to rack up points before it rings in the New Year.
The Boro game in many ways typified the team’s displays under Bradley. A good start, a missed chance, and two goals conceded through slack defending.
“We have to deal with things that don't go our way,” he said at Thursday's Swansea news conference. “The fact we haven't done that enough is the reason why we are inconsistent. Every time we have looked on the brink of making a couple of steps forward we have ended up going backwards again. Our build-up play has improved. We have had some good periods of possession in games but the end product has not always been what it needs to be.”
Midfielder Leroy Fer said ahead of the matches that will close out 2016: “The two games we have next are going to be vital, and now we have to try to win those. If we are going to do it, we have to play our football. That’s what we are good at — playing good football with lots of possession. That’s what we have to try to do again now.”
Two players sidelined by injuries since the end of November are back in training and could be available for the West Ham game: defender Federico Fernandez and midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng. As to long-term changes the opportunity is close at hand.
In an interview with ClubCall, Bradley spoke of his plans for the upcoming transfer window. American owners Stephen Kaplan and Jason Levien took a big risk by hiring Bradley and a nervous fan base will expect them to back up his efforts to bolster the squad.
On the shopping list are a central defender and a midfielder, along with a forward if available at the right price. Swansea has the leakiest defense in the Premier League -- 37 goals conceded -- and 11 of its 20 league goals have been scored by midfielders Fer (six) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (five). Forward Fernando Llorente also has five.
Bradley also wants deals done as early in the window as possible, a wise course of action given the schedule his team will face in a few weeks.A run of elite foes to start the season triggered the departure of predecessor Francesco Guidolin, and soon the return legs come due.
After Swansea plays at Hull in the FA Cup Jan. 7, this is its schedule:
Jan. 14 -- Arsenal.
Jan. 21 -- at Liverpool.
Jan. 31 -- Southampton.
Feb. 5 -- at Manchester City.
Feb. 12 -- Leicester City.
Feb. 25 -- at Chelsea.
That’s a brutal gauntlet of the current top four teams -- Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal == along with defending champion Leicester City. Midseason additions normally need time to acclimate and contribute and time is not a commodity the Swans can squander.
“So you don't want to sit back and watch match after match after match go by,” said Bradley. “Otherwise you will find that instead of the 21 games to get this thing turned around, you may be down to 14 or 15 games. So yes, we would like to get things done early.”