Swansea City: Steve Cooper believes old glories can inspire new squad

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Swansea City boss Steve Cooper says there are no surprises with the club's situation

"Is it a grind?" Steve Cooper asks. It is not the average head coach's response on the eve of a new Championship season, but then Swansea City hope Cooper will prove to be no average head coach.

Cooper is about to begin his first campaign in club management having left his post with the Football Association to take the reins at the Liberty Stadium in June.

And he bats away talk about whether Swansea are ready for the second-tier slog.

"Playing in big stadiums a couple of times a week, in one of the most competitive leagues in the world with the biggest prize at the end of it - I don't see that as a grind," he says.

"I know it's going to be tough and demanding, but it's got to be exciting and enjoyable as well.

"I haven't done it yet and there are lots of managers who might see this and say 'yeah wait and see', but I'm not looking at it as a negative."

It has not been an easy summer for Swansea, but Cooper is upbeat having landed his managerial chance.

Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper worked in the academies at Wrexham and Liverpool and then for the Football Association before joining Swansea in June

The 39-year-old Welshman has been working towards this moment since he began coaching in Wrexham's academy in his early 20s.

A World Cup winner with the England Under-17s, Cooper believes he can enjoy more success at Swansea, who are preparing for a second season in the Championship after their seven-year spell in the Premier League ended in 2018.

Cooper watched from afar as the Swans won promotion to the fop flight under Brendan Rodgers in 2011.

A key player back then, Leon Britton, is now football advisor to the club's board.

Cooper believes Swansea's current squad can take inspiration from what Rodgers' team achieved as they look to reclaim a place in the top tier.

"I have talked to Leon a lot about what that journey was like," Cooper tells BBC Wales Sport.

"It's an amazing story really, from where it started to the Premier League and Europe. I think everybody in football admired that journey, not just the results but the way they did it.

"Swansea have done it before. Let's see if we can create another chapter and do something similar."

Graham Potter, who left for Brighton in May, barely spoke about the idea of promotion during his season in south Wales.

Cooper, by contrast, has declared from the outset that the Premier League is his target.

His hopes of achieving something special are not helped by the loss of Dan James to Manchester United and the possible exit of Oli McBurnie.

Between them, the duo scored 26 goals and claimed 12 assists last season. Without them, Swansea will look a far less menacing prospect.

In the likes of Connor Roberts, Mike van der Hoorn, Joe Rodon, Bersant Celina and Matt Grimes - who has been named captain following the summer departure of Leroy Fer - Cooper has the core of a decent young side.

But firepower will be key to Swansea's chances of achieving anything significant in 2019-20.

Cooper has impressed on the training ground in pre-season, and has built a solid-looking backroom team after Potter took his staff with him to the Amex.

Matt Grimes
Matt Grimes was Swansea's player of the season in 2018-19 and looks like being a key man once more this term

The Swans also have a new head of recruitment, Andy Scott, although how much impact he can have in this transfer window is questionable given that he has been in the job only a matter of days.

Swansea progressed under Potter season, but it may take time for the club to make further gains.

Yet after May's 10th-place finish, Cooper wants to press on.

"We'll continue to build on some good foundations laid last year and there's no reason why we can't be excited going into the season," he says.

"Football's a competition - you have to compete and you compete to win. We want to do that in a certain style.

"That style is in place so we can win games, be successful and get the club back to where it wants to be, which is in the Premier League."

Cooper's outlook is admirable. Should the top flight beckon for Swansea in nine months' time, after all, he will have achieved something extraordinary.

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