Latchford or Newhouse

by Sandman Slim

After a period of incoming player austerity the Swans backed Steve Cooper with no less than six signings at the start of the season. ATFV decided to assess their impact so far, with a ‘Latchford’ rating for those that have impressed and a ‘Newhouse’ rating for the flops. Our old friend Sandman Slim sits in judgement on the new recruits…

Jake Bidwell

With only Declan John as a senior left back after the release of Martin Olsson there was an urgent need to bring in a specialist and Steve Cooper moved faster than Dan James leaving Elland Road on Deadline Day to plug the gap.

Bidwell was the man brought in after being released on a free by Queens Park Rangers. Despite making the left back shirt his own from the moment pre-season started Bidwell is yet to win over a large chunk of the Swans fans, some of whom seem to hold his status as a freebie from QPR against him.

It’s a shame because on the whole the 26 year old has been a solid signing, fitting in to the passing style well and forging a decent partnership with Bersant Celina when the Kosovan has been utilised out wide. There’s been the odd cult tackle to enjoy, although the hands you instinctively put over your eyes when he launches himself into a Sunday league style challenge does cloud the enjoyment slightly.

Despite the odd very poor period and an element of the crowd on his back on the whole Bidwell has done well, certainly well enough to keep John kicking his heels in the Carabao Cup but only just enough to stay ahead of Kyle Naughton. Alas, it was one Sunday League challenge too far against Bristol City and a red card gives his rivals three games to reclaim the jersey.

Verdict: LATCHFORD

Latchford

Ben Wilmot

There’s been more sightings of Gary Wilmot than Ben Wilmot at the Liberty, and I’m just going to sit here chuckling to myself at the thought of thousands of younger readers typing ‘Gary Wilmot’ into Google. So, when you’ve all finished reading about 90’s TV icon Gary, we’ll get back to discussing future football icon Ben. Because he could become that good!

Unable to displace the solid pairing of van der Hoorn and Rodon at the back or Captain Grimes in the middle, Wilmot has had to be patient and make the most of his outings in the Carabao Cup.

The loan signing from Watford has looked good when he’s played though, looking like a real leader in the young ‘mix and match’ League Cup side despite his own inexperience at first team level.

You can see why our new head of recruitment Andy Scott handed Stevenage a million quid for Wilmot when he was fulfilling the same role at the Hornets; big, strong and composed on the ball, Wilmot epitomises the modern day centre half and his cultured style looks perfect for a Swans side trying to restore its passing game to its full glory.

It surely won’t be long before Wilmot gets his chance in the League and like his namesake Gary on New Faces he’ll grab his chance with both hands. Limited though his game time might be so far, he looks a very astute addition to the squad.

Verdict: LATCHFORD

Latchford

Kristoffer Peterson

Swedish winger Peterson is the “marquis signing” of the summer, having cost a whopping £500k fee! Cooper snapped up the imposing wide man from Heracles Almelo having already gained an insight into the boy’s ability after their time together in the Liverpool youth set up several years ago.

It’s not hard to see how the lad has a one in three goal ratio, his direct running and willingness to shoot from any distance helping him plunder 12 goals from 33 appearances last season. But that was in the mainly benign Dutch league and the Championship has proved a lot tougher for Peterson. So far.

An encouraging debut as a late substitute in the opening fixture against Hull suggested the forward could quickly become a fixture in the side but it hasn’t panned out that way, partly due to competition from a number of senior rivals plus the emergence of Jordon Garrick.

Its left Peterson restricted to appearances in the Carabao Cup where he got his first goal as a Swan against Cambridge, but the recent exit to Watford in that competition will dent the adjustment progress being made.

There’s more to come from Kris once he’s found his feet but for the moment it’s hard to pretend that he’s pulled up trees and made a difference. Mind you, if he was pulling up trees I’d tell him to sling his hook and become a landscape gardener instead of a footballer.

Verdict: NEWHOUSE

Aldo Kalulu

With the ink still drying on Peterson’s contract Cooper moved to sign another winger in the diminutive shape of French U18 international Aldo Kalulu, a young man so short he makes Leon Britton look like a Harlem Globetrotter.

It’s been a less than stellar to start to Kalulu’s loan spell with the Swans; two pretty average appearances in the games against Derby and Preston were followed by an ankle injury that’s kept him for a month and shows no sign of clearing in the immediate future.

“Did Aldo win a Cornflakes packet competition to play today?” and “Who let one of the match mascots take part in the game?” are just two of the comments I heard in the Liberty stand during the Preston game – pretty harsh but probably fair considering the standard of performance Kalulu produced before being withdrawn at half time.

To provide some balance, the lightning fast tiny tot missed a lot of pre-season training and he’s not the first player to need a period of adjustment coming into the British game. You just wonder how many opportunities there will be for Aldo when he returns to full fitness given the presence of Andre Ayew, Nathan Dyer and the mega exciting Jordon Garrick in front of him. Perhaps he could get away with sitting on Dyers shoulders? Hmmm…

Verdict: NEWHOUSE

Sam Surridge

Having lost Oli McBurnie on the eve of the season and with only Borja Baston on the books as a senior striker the Swans desperately needed to recruit another forward. In came Bournemouth prospect Sam Surridge on loan to a mixed reaction from fans.

12 goals in 20 games for Oldham on loan last season was enough to persuade Eddie Howe to take him back into the first team fold at the Cherries but the lad was left kicking his heels. And a few goals at the lowest level wasn’t enough to convince some fans that the kid was a good enough to recruit to step in should Borja Baston be offloaded from the wage bill.

Others though were excited by the boy’s obvious promise, and they’ve been proven right as Surridge has made a decent impact. Goals against lower league and Premier League opposition in the Carabao Cup straddle a vital goal at QPR in the Championship and with four in total he sits just one behind Borja in the top scoring reckoning.

Surridge is proving to be an able alternative to Borja and with the Spaniard now experiencing something of a scoring drought he must be under pressure for his place from the young Englishman. In fact after his performance against Watford I’d be tempted to say…play it again Sam!

Verdict: LATCHFORD

Latchford

Freddie Woodman

Young stopper was a surprise loan addition on the eve of the season but what an addition he has been. Woodman was thrown in at the deep end in the season opener against Hull and he’s excelled between the sticks ever since.

Cooper and goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson both worked with Woodman previously in the England youth set up and with continuing doubts over both existing senior Swans ‘keepers the manager moved to solve the problem with someone he could trust.

And the 22 year old hasn’t let his manager down, putting in a string of impressive performances and recording clean sheets in half the eight games he’s played so far. With that many clean sheets he’s got a great future as an Airbnb agent when he finally hangs up his gloves.

Rather than Latchford or Newhouse this should really be a Nordfeldt or Freestone rating for the young ‘keeper. And I think the verdict would unanimously be a Freestone rating! But the idiot Editor didn’t factor in a goalkeeper in a piece with two strikers as the ratings, so Woodman is…

Verdict: LATCHFORD

Latchford

In Summary

A big improvement in the recruitment stakes with four of the six signings showing enough to suggest that they are capable additions to the squad. Poor old Aldo Kalulu and Kris Peterson have been labelled flops but there’s plenty of time for them to turn that around. In Kalulu’s case he has to regain fitness first but both p;ayers need to adapt to the Championship and that can take time. No doubt the Jack Army will give them time and encouragement…ATFV certainly will!