1st Team Goalkeepers: Michel Vorm (28), Gerhard Tremmel (33), David Cornell (21)
Brendan Rodgers has left the Liberty Stadium, but one of his great successes as manager was bringing Michel Vorm in from Utrecht. The Dutchman was quite simply immense in his debut Premier League season. It was all the more amazing because at £1.5 million, he cost about 1/33rd of a Fernando Torres. The saves he made and the points he helped earn his team were impressive, but his value was far greater than that. Such was his importance early on in the season, he helped the club believe they belonged in the top flight and that silky football was compatible with avoiding immediate relegation.
It’s not merely glove-tinted glasses. Plenty of teams have arrived in the Premier League intending to play nice football, but few managers have withstood the pressure if it doesn’t pay dividends earlier. If the Swans had been losing instead of drawing or drawing instead of winning, the players would have started to doubt Rodgers’ philosophy. Style would have been sacrificed for survival. There are such fine margins between safety and getting sucked into a relegation scrap, it’s hard to overstate Vorm’s importance.
It’s a surprise that a team further up the pecking order haven’t made a move for the Dutchman. Surprising on one had, but less so when considering the numerous statements Vorm has made about his fondness for Copperopolis well known. He likes the place, his family seem to like the place and he’s not planning to go anywhere. The appreciation seems to be reciprocated by the fans as he was voted Supporters’ Player of the Year, an award that will sit nicely beside his Players’ Player of the Year.
With Michael Laudrup trying to rebuild a squad relieved of some of its key performers from last season, Vorm’s importance has grown. His reactions, agility and athleticism will be required even more this year in what will be a tricky campaign. He pulled of some outstanding and crucial saves last season and more is required this year. His relatively small stature means he doesn’t command the aerial duels as much as you’d like, but this is a very small Achilles’ heel in comparison to his huge contribution to the team.
Behind him is Gerhard Tremmel, another less heralded, but shrewd Rodgers’ signing. He arrived on a free not long before last summer’s transfer window shut. He’s vastly experienced and did little wrong when called into action for a couple of cup matches and one league game last term. Ideally you’d prefer to see Vorm in goal for the majority of the season, but the Swans’ back-up is more than capable of filling in.
The younger option is David Cornell. The 21 year old has been a Swan since 2008, but only has one appearance for the club to his name. He’s had a couple of loan spells in a bid to build up his experience and it would be no surprise to see another this campaign.
Vorm avoiding the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ is crucial for Swansea. He was already an important part of the team, but if possible, the Swans will rely on him even more this year. His saves will again be important in the manager’s vision being accepted by players, fans and the media. No pressure then.