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Ten to watch in 2013/14 - 8. Wifried Bony (Swansea City)
They say that life is all about timing, and if I’d have put Bony a little higher up the order of my ten subjects, this piece would have been out there before the player notched a double in his Swans debut against Malmo in the qualifying stages of the Europa League.
Twelve months ago, when newly installed Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup plucked the little-known Spanish forward Michu from the lower reaches of La Liga, the player was tagged as Mich-who by a few cynical hacks. That label has long since been discarded. As we look to enter the new season with another relatively unknown striker freshly ensconced at the Liberty stadium, no-one is rushing to write off Laudrup’s latest signing. And it’s probably wise not to do so.
Bony has an outstanding goal-scoring record from his two previous clubs. In three seasons with Sparta Prague he scored 22 times in 59 games before moving on to Vitesse in Holland. His two seasons with the Dutch club produced an even better return with 46 goals in just 65 games. An admirable strike record by anyone’s standards. Now 24 and with a strong record behind him, it’s not difficult to appreciate the pedigree that attracted Laudrup to the player.
The Laudrup doctrine at Swansea, tapered from that inherited from Brendan Rodgers, is still very much centred on possession of the ball, and this requires a quicksilver thought pattern by the striker to pick the moment to make the incisive run. This team isn’t going to haul in a lot of goals from ‘set plays’ – corners, free kicks lumped into the box and the like – they’re very much for the elegant goal and the surgical finish. The system requires therefore a certain type of striker. In Bony, they seem to have that player.
I watched the game against Malmo, and Bony’s play very much confirmed what I had heard about him. This was in stark contradiction to what I saw a number of journos expressing in post-game analysis. I’d heard that he was very much the finisher; the ‘fox in the box’ to use the old adage. Whilst there was a chunk of link up play involved in his game, he is very much not the ‘line leader’ type of player like his Ivorian compatriot Dider Drogba. On the contrary, whilst Swansea weaved their intricate patterns of possession, he was for periods almost anonymous until the ball was in the danger areas. It’s a neat foil for his team’s pattern of play.
I fully expect Bony to have a similar rate of success to that enjoyed by Michu last season. If you’re looking for a relatively cheap striker for your Fantasy League team, who’ll give you a good goals return, you could do a lot worse than Wifried Bony.
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