Steve Cooper: The Pontypridd Manager’s Top-Flight Dream
Born in December 1979, Steve Cooper has become a part of the pride of Pontypridd from a footballing standpoint. While, as a player, the 40-year-old failed to hit the heights, his coaching career is one of real promise. Having begun his management work at both Wrexham and Liverpool’s youth teams, his success earned him a role as the U16s and U17s manager with England between 2014 and 2019. Now, Cooper is on a mission to get Swansea City promoted back to the Premier League. So, let’s look at how plausible that is for the Pontypridd-born manager.
Bouncing Back From Falling at the Last Hurdle in 2019-20
Although the Swans were on the hunt for a play-off spot for the bulk of last season, few expected Cooper’s side to clinch the sixth spot on the final day of the season. Following their 4-1 victory over Reading, Nottingham Forest’s defeat saw the Swans steal the final play-off position away from Sabri Lamouchi’s team by a plus-one goal difference, as per the Guardian.
The order of ranking saw Swansea face Brentford in the play-off semi-final after Thomas Frank’s team let slip of their grasp on automatic promotion. Ayew’s first-leg goal gave the Welsh side a one-goal lead, but a 3-1 defeat at Griffin Park ended the 2011-12 Capital One Cup winner’s Premier League dreams.
The Swans were unable to replicate the last-day drama that gave them the chance to compete for a top-flight spot. But Cooper’s ability to overcome adversity will be paramount to the Jacks picking themselves up for another run in 2020-21. As of October 21st, football betting has Swansea as 6/1 to be promoted come the end of the Championship season which is a real testament to the faith in Cooper to succeed.
Handling a Squad in Transition
Along with the undeniable disappointment, the recent summer transfer window has also seen the Pontypridd-born manager’s squad change quite significantly. Unfortunately for the Jacks’ supporters, they were unable to retain Rhian Brewster on loan. Liverpool sold the player to Sheffield United in a deal worth £23.5 million, as per the BBC. Moreover, Bersant Celina also left for Dijon, while Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur completed the deadline-day signing of Joe Rodon, who had been with the Swans since 2005.
However, according to Transfermarkt, Cooper spent around £1.05 million in the process of bringing in ten new players. While many of them joined on loan, including Freddie Woodman, Morgan Gibbs-White, and Ryan Bennett, the Swans permanently signed Korey Smith, Jamal Lowe, and Ryan Manning. In terms of depth, Cooper has more options at his disposal for the ongoing season, although it remains to be seen how well the new additions adapt to his fluid style of play.
A Pontypridd Premier League Representative is On the Cards
Given the unpredictability of football, it’s impossible to state with certainty that Swansea will be a Premier League club for the 2021-22 campaign. However, it’s clear that Cooper is building something special at the Liberty Stadium. If he can continue to develop his current crop of players, then there’s no reason that the club’s top-flight dream can’t become a reality, leading to a potential high point in Welsh culture, in the coming years.