As we prepare for a campaign without our longest serving player (minus that Sheffield blip), I still think that what Leon brought to Swansea city is not fully realised and appreciated.
Leon, for me, is our greatest ever player and it is far from a coincidence that the club has struggled as he played less. Pep Guardiola has revolutionised football but isn’t given the credit he deserves for how he sees the art of defending which is pretty simple: the opposition doesn’t score when you have the ball!!
While Mourinho desperately needs at least one (often 2) big, strong central midfielder to ‘sure-up’ the midfield, Pep (as Real Madrid & Barca) knows that if you can control the football then the art of the ‘enforcer’ is dead.
No ‘big’ club seemed to fancy him but he was ahead of his time. Over the next few years sides will try and emulate what City have done and the player who can anticipate where the ball lands, where to position themselves and is able to be brave with the ball will be in very high demand; all attributes which Leon had in abundance.
The Swansea Way was built almost entirely around him, he was pivotal to it all and as he played less games, the Swansea Way diminished. Fer, Carroll, Cork, Canas, Agustien, Clucas, Ki, all played that deep lying central role but none could control a football match anywhere near as well as what Leon could. The closest we saw was Joe Allen but although Joe could pass and tackle every bit as good as his mentor, he didn’t have that inbuilt ability to be able to read a football game with such immense accuracy.
Britton read the game as well as Claude Makalele. Often marking space as against a man, reading the danger and anticipating the next move. He could pass with the completion rates of Xavi and with the same bravery; he wanted that ball for 90 minutes of the game no matter what the situation of the match.While most would hide, most wanted a keeper to launch it into the far corner to waste a few seconds while preserving a lead; Leon knew he could tika-taka until the whistle went.
Fans bemoan about our poor recruitment over the last few years but the reality is that a lot of the side is every bit as good as it has been. The only real difference is that Leon is missing. He is rightfully worshiped here, rightfully called a legend, there should, someday be a statue but I don’t think he will ever be appreciated as much as he should be. If he was five years younger and fit then the Swans would have stayed up by ten points this campaign. We would have had 10% more possession, conceding less and scoring more!
Harry Winks at Spurs is the closest player to Leon I have seen England produce and if he can stay fit then he’ll be worth £50 million plus next summer and Leon would have been worth all of that if he had of been around a decade later.
Thank you for it all the memories! That Forest goal! Last season’s heroics and every one of your 50 billion perfect passes but don’t you dare fucking manage us!!!!! You’re here for life!! Not a six month struggle and never to return!!