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Why Swansea will finish above Norwich and QPR

Here are five reasons why Swansea City will finish higher in the Premier League next season than the other promoted teams Norwich City and QPR.

1) Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers was the Championship’s best-kept secret over the last two years. He demonstrated that he is capable of arriving at a new club and immediately getting more than expected from the existing squad. Swansea wanted continuity and Rogers was able to build on both the momentum and the playing philosophy that Roberto Martinez and Paulo Sousa had created. That ability to walk in and get results without demanding a £30m transfer budget will land Rogers a job at a bigger club than Swansea one day.

There’s a reason Jose Mourinho talks Rodgers up and Roberto Mancini tried to bring him to Manchester City as an assistant. He is an imaginative and creative manager – more so than either Paul Lambert or Neil Warnock. It will be interesting to see the solutions he comes up with when faced by stiffer challenges in the top division. If you were going to back one of those three to think his way out of a problem, it would be Rodgers.

2) Playing style

Swansea’s existing style of play lends itself to competing in the top division more so than Norwich and QPR. They’re capable of keeping possession. That means they won’t need to try to win every game 5-4 to cover up for their defensive inadequacies the way Blackpool did last season.

Tony Pulis rewrote the blueprint for teams coming up into the Premier League and staying up, but before Stoke’s ascent Reading ran away with the second division then put themselves in the top half of the table more than once without playing a physical style. The way Swansea play will allow them to compete against a broader range of teams. They’ll feel confident that they can get points off anyone outside the top six or seven clubs.

3) Existing personnel

Swansea need to upgrade fewer parts of their team. They need a new goalkeeper after Dorus de Vries left unexpectedly, but don’t need to make wholesale changes elsewhere. They’ll be hoping last season’s Championship top scorer Danny Graham can make the step up after signing him from Watford, but they may look for another striker with Premier League experience. Adding someone like Marcos Senna as a physical presence in midfield to compliment Leon Britton and Joe Allen would make a huge difference if the club can afford it.

They already have genuine pace and quality out wide with Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair and they also have attacking full backs in Angel Rangel and Neil Taylor (although he could be on his way to Newcastle).

4) Location, location, location

In the final Times football podcast of the season, Peter Lansley, Matt Hughes and Gabriel Marcotti were a bit snooty about Swansea having problems convincing players to move that far west. They’ve probably never been there and assumed it was another tatty seaside town like Blackpool. In fact, Swansea is a beautiful place to live and it’s less than three hours from London along the M4, so it’s effectively closer to London than anywhere north of the Midlands. There’s an exorbitant toll to pay on the Severn Bridge when you’re travelling west, but nothing anyone on Premier League wages would need to worry about.

5) Norwich and QPR weaknesses

Norwich and QPR’s best players will be less effective in the Premier League. QPR’s Adel Taraabt won’t get nearly as much space as he got in the Championship, if he even stays with QPR. After winning player of the year awards, his ego could be way out of control and he may not have Neil Warnock there to keep him in line either. Wayne Routledge looks great at Championship level, but was loaned out by Newcastle because he’d been ineffective at the start of last season.

For Norwich, Grant Holt won’t score 20 goals in the Premier League as he has done for the last two years at lower levels. It’s asking a lot for a striker of his age to suddenly step up a level and make an impact. They have other good young players like Andrew Crofts and Wes Hoolihan, but they don’t look as good a bet to damage Premier League defenses as Swansea’s Sinclair and Dyer.

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