Despite being partially named after one of the all-time greatest Spurs legends, Scott Mackay decided to support a different team for some reason and now runs the excellent fan site The Swansea Way, covering all news and providing truly excellent analysis related to the Liberty Stadium inhabitants. I caught up with him yesterday to discuss his club preseason, the state of their current squad and their chances of overturning Spurs in their own territory tomorrow.
Edward F.: For the past two seasons, Swansea have been everyone's second club, with the side's attractive play and incredible underdog success winning them plaudits from just about everyone. Did you ever expect this when the side first began it journey back to the Premier League?
Scott Mackay: To a point. I think there's no denying that the brand of football we've become associated with is more pleasing on the eye than, say, Stoke, however the level of success we've achieved has been slightly above what I was expecting, that's for sure. I was confident we'd stay up in our first season, but to be able to replace the departing Brendan Rodgers with someone like Michael Laudrup shows how far we've come in such a short space of time.
EF: How are you feeling about Swansea's offseason? Has the side added enough extra quality to sustain the incredible momentum that it's carried over the past two seasons?
SM: Pre-season was a walk in the park, in all honesty. The Dutch tour saw us face a number of lower-league opposition, and we put 10 goals on one unfortunate mob, before we played Yeovil, Exeter and Reading - winning all three and keeping clean sheets to boot. Some of us had wondered if pre-season had been too easy, and the two clean sheets against Malmo seemed to allay any fears we had, however the 4-1 loss to United featured goals we shouldn't be conceding if we're looking to kick on again.
EF: One of the big questions of this coming season for me for Swansea regards the LB situation. Ben Davies had an excellent breakout season deputizing for the injured Neil Taylor last time out. How do you think Laudrup squares the circle of giving them both minutes now the two are both back in the side?
SM: Luckily, at this juncture we look pretty certain to reach the group stages of the Europa Leagues (along with yourselves), so it's likely there'll be plenty of football to go around. Don't forget Neil Taylor has operated well at right-back for the GB Olympic team, and Ben Davies has been touted as a potential centre-back too, and with both players still so young it's likely either would accept an extended spell on the sidelines better than a player of more advanced years. I think both buy into what the Swans are trying to do, and in most top teams you require two players for every position. I'm confident both will be Swansea players for years to come.
EF: What is your favourite-ever memory from this tie in the past?
SM: Erm. I went to the 2-1 defeat at home last season and that wasn't too much fun, so it would have to be Sinclair's late equaliser in our debut PL season. I thought we thoroughly deserved a point on that occasion, and Van der Vaart's opener was fortunate in the extreme, so it seemed fair when he made it 1-1 late on.
EF: Looking ahead specifically to the weekend's game, where do you see the key battles taking place?
SM: Firstly, I can't believe you sold Steven Caulker. The guy is going to be class, and I'm bloody annoyed you sold it to that lot up the road. Shame on you! If he'd still been in your team I'd be saying him vs Wilfried Bony, but as he's departed I'd imagine it will be left to Vertonghen to stop the Ivorian. At the other end I rate Soldado massively, and it's going to be seriously hard to stop him scoring if he's provided service anything like that which saw you dispose of Dinamo Tbilisi.
EF: Who do you think is the dangerman for both sides? Assuming Gareth Bale won't make a surprise appearance on the day, is there anyone else on this Spurs team who you feel Laudrup has to set the team up to be prepared for?
SM: I don't think anyone will be tasked with man-marking in particular. The team ethos as the Swans is what stands us in good stead, and making sure you don't change too much for any one team is crucial, lest you lose what you're doing so well. That being said, no doubt Laudrup will issue words of warning regarding various players, but the overall calibre of the squad means I don't think there's much point singling out any one player for individual attention.
EF: In what scenario do you think Swansea will be able to take home all the points from this game? How would you approach the tie if you were managing the team?
SM: Honestly? I'm not confident. I don't fancy us to get anything from this game, and we'll have to be on top of our game if we're to come out back from London with points. It'll be interesting to see how the two teams compare - hopefully I'm wrong and we do brilliantly but I have you down as serious title challengers this season, so I'm not too concerned about the idea of a loss. We're not going to win every game this season, and Spurs away is one of a few fixtures that, while I wouldn't consider them a write-off, I wouldn't necessarily be losing sleep over following a defeat.
EF: How do you think the rest of the season will plan out? Do you think Laudrup has hit his ceiling with the club or do you think European qualification should be the realistic next step?
SM: It's interesting to see the continued evolution. We've kicked on further than I'd have expected at this point in time, and playing in the Europa League is the latest step in the development of the club. Until something is done to stop money ruining the game it'll be impossible, in my opinion, for a responsibly run club (like Swansea) to expect to challenge for the title. Arsenal have money in the bank, but they have a bare trophy cabinet. Spending £12million on Wilfried Bony this summer showed the board appreciate that to maintain our current status, and to have any hope of improving on last season's league finish, we will have to spend increasingly large transfer fees, however fiscal prudence is always going to take priority over any signing.
EF: Finally, what is your score prediction?
SM: 2-0 Spurs.
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