In my first major venture outside of the comfortable confines of our family at SBNation, I was able to snuggle up with the amazing fan blog Forza Swansea. Their editor in chief, Chris Carra, was kind enough to answer some questions. While I completely disagree with him about Vorm, I think he is spot on with most of his points. You can check out the preview I wrote up for his blog right over here (about halfway down the page). Thanks again to Chris! Questions and responses after the jump!
1. Swansea have had an incredible run of form thus far, especially given your status as a newly promoted team (and the play-off winner, at that). What do you think has led to your success on the top level, and how does that measure up to your pre-season expectations?
Success is down to not losing our quick, effective passing game that was established in the Football League. The energy and effort given by all our players ensures we can out-pass even the best teams. While we don't always have the cutting edge in the final third, keeping the ball allows us to frustrate teams and through that frustration comes the goals. I think the majority of Swans fans knew we would stay up, though to have a shot at finishing in the top ten has exceeded our expectations.
2. As a fan of Swansea, what do you think your expectations should be heading into next season? Do you think the Jacks can truly contend for a top tier finish and a European spot?
It may be a little premature, but Europe (and I'm talking Europa League) is within our reach in the next few seasons if we can keep up this momentum, and that's if we haven't already qualified via the Fair Play route. As for the top-tiers, there is no reason Swansea can't finish in the top five in a few years time – however, that's way out of our depth at the moment, and survival is all anyone asks for the next few seasons.
3. Speaking of next year, as this season winds down, what do you see as Swansea's top priorities (transfers or otherwise) in the summer?
I think the major priorities are keeping hold of what we've got. Securing permanent deals for the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Steven Caulker, while making sure nobody nabs Nathan Dyer, Ashley Williams and Michel Vorm. That also goes for holding onto Brendan Rodgers! Elsewhere, we need to maybe purchase another established striker, and possibly an additional left/right back.
4. There has been some chatter of Rodgers perhaps being pried away from Swansea for a "larger" (i.e. "English") club next year, though the manager has totally dismissed the talk. What are your thoughts on Brendan Rodgers, and do you truly believe he will be with Swansea for the long haul?
I don't think Swansea will hold onto Brendan Rodgers forever – I don't think anyone in Swansea thinks that. However, I don't believe he'll go in the summer, despite some tempting offers. His career has been a series of short-time, unsuccessful jobs up until now, but at Swansea he is somewhere secure and somewhere where he is an unrivalled success. He's said time and time again how happy he is at Swansea so it makes sense for him to stay for a while.
5. Maarten Stekelenburg goes down in the first minute of Euro 2012, which of our keepers is getting the nod for the Dutch: Michael Vorm or Tim Krul?
Michel Vorm! He's been amazing this season and I'm surprised he isn't Dutch number one already!
6. Who has been your MVP this year?
It's a hard one. Swansea's success is such a team effort, so all are valuable. However, Michel Vorm is one that has surely kept Swansea in it this season. Leon Britton is also very valuable because, in addition to being one of Europe's best passers, he has been with the Swans for basically ten years (minus the brief spell at Sheffield Utd) and has a lot of sentimental value!
7. And, finally, a prediction for the match on Friday?
Teams struggle when they come to the Liberty – you've seen it with Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea and I think Newcastle will also find it hard this season. However Newcastle are on a good run, while Swansea have lost the last two... it's going to be a draw. 1-1.