Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Friday August 19 2011
With Saturday's Premier League clash between Swansea City and Wigan Athletic at the Liberty Stadium close at hand, I thought it would be a good chance to catch up with Vital Swansea editor Kevin Elphick for a brew and a chat, lets see how it went:
worbo - First off congratulations on gaining promotion, I can safely say the vast majority of Wiganers were rooting for you in the play-offs and what a final it was, have you got over the euphoria yet? Though I suppose the City game was a rude awakening.
Kev - Thank you. It's taken a while for it all to sink in and it's still quite unbelievable that we're playing Premier League football, when not too long ago we were fighting to stay in the Football League itself. It's been an amazing and incredible journey and success story since 2003, and hopefully we can continue to build and improve both on and off the pitch. The Manchester City game was a disappointing start of course, but despite the 4-0 scoreline, I thought there was plenty of positives to come out of the performance, especially our first half show. They had such high quality that in the end there was nothing we could do to stop the likes of Aguero and Silva, but there still seems to be plenty of positives that we can avoid relegation this year.
worbo - The visit to the Liberty was the first fixture that I looked for when they came out, its a game that I am really looking forward to and I suspect that there will be a great atmosphere, how are the Swansea fans gearing up for the return of Martinez?
Kev - Same here and it should be a great game between two sides who play the game in the right way. There are mixed opinions on Roberto Martinez. Some people, like me, have forgotten about what happened when he left, how he left and after he left when he took the backroom staff before trying to sign our players. So those fans won't bother booing and giving him a bad reception on Saturday. You have to have respect for the man as he did take us quite far in his short spell as manager for us. We were very much an average League One side when Kenny Jackett left, and Roberto transformed us into a Championship side competing for a play-off spot. Some fans though haven't forgot, and still have a lot of disrepect and anger towards him, and there'll certainly be sections of the crowd, particularly in the East, giving him a bad reception, and I'm sure they'll make up some chants for him during the game.
worbo - Great performance on Monday from your new keeper Michel Vorm, how are your other new signings settling in and who do you feel will be the star performer this season?
Kev - Vorm already looks like being our best signing of the Summer, and a massive bargain at £1.5m, he's good enough that he can save us a few vital points this season. It's difficult to say too much about our signings yet as we have yet to see them in competitive action. Record signing Danny Graham scored only 1 goal in the pre-season friendlies but if he gets the service, unlike he did at Manchester City, then he has the ability to finish them off. Leroy Lita will hopefully be a surprise asset to us as he wasn't the most exciting of signings amongst the fans, and Wayne Routledge should also add excellent competition for places on the wing. Spurs defender Steven Caulker is on loan and he's a good option at centre back while captain Garry Monk is injured, but there's still room for strengthening, particularly in defence and midfield.
worbo - My hopes for the Latics this season are a comfortable mid-table finish and a run in one of the cups and you know what I can see it coming off, as for Swansea I really hope you stay up, but, as you are aware no doubt, there is a big step in class from the Championship to the Premier League, so I see a tough second half of the season for the Swans, though I do feel you will survive, just.
What do you see happening for both clubs in the coming nine months?
Kev - I'm not as optimistic as you about your potential this season. I feel we'll both be in a relegation scrap for the entire season but I'm confident enough that we'll both survive the drop, with yourselves finishing just a place above us. Therefore it's games like this that will prove vital, points being won or lost against the teams that could finish around you in the table.
worbo - You know all about our boss Roberto Martinez, but to be honest I know little about Brendan Rodgers, what's he like, is he the real deal?
Kev - He certainly is. Roberto Martinez said that he took us too far and that the club needed a big cash boost to move on to better things. We did get more money from his departure as well as Jason Scotland's, but that money didn't go back into strengthening the squad, and the only real big signing was Scott Sinclair, but that was mainly due to Rodgers' ability in attracting him to a move to the Swans. So saying that, Rodgers managed to take us further than Martinez could, and he delivered promotion to the Premier League in just 1 season, which says it all really.
worbo - If I could take a Swansea player to the Latics I would like Danny Graham, he impressed me last season at Watford and I think you have got yourselves a player that is finding his feet and fulfilling his potential, I'm sure he'll score a few goals this season.
If you could take one of our players and put them in your team who would it be and why?
Kev - I always liked Jordi Gomez when he was with us. A goalscoring midfielder which is what we need plus a good set-piece taker, but judging from your fans' reactions last season he didn't have a great first year at Wigan. James McCarthy is also another player that looks promising, Martinez wanted to get him when he was still at Swansea.
worbo - Prediction time Kev, I'm going for a Latics win. 2-1 with a late goal in a close encounter, how do you see it?
Kev - I'm going 2-1 but to the Swans!
worbo - Thanks very much for the chat Kev and best of luck for the rest of the season.
Latics and Proud
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Date:Friday August 19 2011
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