Fans’ forum

On Thursday evening Steve Cooper, Trevor Birch and Leon Britton were in attendance at Taibach Rugby Club in Port Talbot for the third fans’ forum of the season. Here’s a roundup of what was asked…

Question on the academy

Birch said we are not downgrading it but we are reviewing all operations, we have two training grounds and are doing our utmost to keep both in operation and to maintain category 1 status for the academy.

We are one of a small handful of clubs outside the Premier League that have one, they are very expensive and there’s a fine balance keeping competitive side and having academy. Need manager who will give youngsters a chance, youth will be at heart if club going forward which is one of reasons why Cooper was given the job. 

Question on the possible sale of club

Birch says not been brought into sell club, he’s here indefinitely. Doesn’t think anyone would want to buy it at moment. He has full responsibility and no interference and would have turned down the job if that was the case. Birch says we need to be a community club. Birch says old board achieved great things but made bad decisions at the end, long plan now to rebuild us. 

Birch reiterated board don’t take any money out and that he can’t do any more. Every club has to sell to keep going. 

Question on backing Cooper to take us up or is there another target?

Birch says only way they can get money back is if we go up.

Question on strength of side

Cooper says he believes in all the players, midfield is very important part of the side. Gallagher is different type of player which gives us good variety. 

Finance question on do we have more pain of selling players

Next year is final year if parachute payments so it’s still tough, some contracts are close to Prem level. By 2022 our revenue would be at about 17 million and we have to balance things out in terms of youth and competitiveness. 

Birch said we are unlikely to see new deals for players who are out of contract in the summer at this stage. Big turnaround coming in the summer. 

Set pieces question

Cooper says Cardiff away was below par but up until 4 games ago our goal difference for set plays we were top of league, we practise regularly 

Question on loans

How will Guehi fit in, Cooper said he can play anywhere across back 4. 2 centre backs  are carrying more than niggles but wasn’t specified who. Not sure how long Van Der Hoorn is out for, but it could be mid to long term. 

Cooper said we tried to get Brewster in summer but knocked back. Liverpool believe in what we’re doing, knows him well, right type of player and character for us. 

Question on Garrick

Exciting player, and is just back in training. Cooper doesn’t want to loan him out. 

Question for Leon about booing players

He says it’s difficult to show confidence in those circumstances. Says they all want backing but respect people get frustrated. Think team have come through a wobble. If not getting results there’s tough moments. 

Question on communication with owners

Leon rarely speaks to owners. The odd text here and there. Birch doesn’t speak to them much either and just gets on with it Cooper speaks to Kaplan 1 or 2 times a week, positive conversations. 

Question about taking the manager job

Steve said we were first club he spoke to, he wanted to do Euros with England and five years was enough in the role of England u17 manager, he wanted first-team football. He applied for job and people happy to hear his story and vision. Said there’s been a mixed bag, but apart from QPR in FA Cup he’s not questioned attitude. 

Cooper thinks some players will leave before window shuts. If it free’s up a chance to bring anyone in said Birch is supportive within our financial needs. Could give chance for youngsters to play too. 

Van Der Hoorn will likely leave if we don’t go up. He’s on Prem money, any new deal would be less which Birch gave the impression he wouldn’t sign but he would get a new deal if we go up. 

Question on Leon day to day job

He said every day is different today he was dealing with agents in terms of people leaving, dealing with player contract. Tomorrow talking to scholars in terms of who’s staying and who isn’t. Job is wide ranging, looking at ore season and what chef wants at hotel. Really enjoying it, working with Cooper, Birch and Scott. 

Will we be becoming feeder club go like if Liverpool and Chelsea. Cooper says not feeder club but need to utilise loan market. Used Mount and Tomori as good examples of being good deal for everyone. Recruitment will take few windows before we see real benefit of Scott. Cooper says developing our own and being creative, small purchases like Pukki at Norwich as example. Said will step away from loans in the end. Birch says ideally we’d have no loans .

Defence question about next season

Rodon and Cabango have contracts so will be here. Guehi needed next year. Unlikely we get bid for Van Der Hoorn in this window so he’s likely to stay for now. 

Peterson question

Cooper uncomfortable about how it’s worked out. Spoke to him at length on Saturday, both agreed that it hadn’t quite worked. Foreign players find this league relentless, he agreed he’s found it tough. For now him going is right thing, will pick it up in the summer then re address it. He loved the club and the city 

Question on work permit issues due to Brexit

No clarification on it but FA and Premier League are confident current rules will be maintained. 

Question on Woodman

Cooper said we’d love Freddie to stay, unsure if it’s possible, Cooper thinks he’d like to. Benda getting good game time and doing well at Swindon, will be in first team squad next season. 

Cooper sees his philosophy as high pressing, wants us to run more than opposition. Realised not everyone plays out from back so we don’t always need to. Style of play is associated with the ball but need to pay as much attention to without the ball 

Question on do we have options on loans for next season

No official word on next season says Cooper but conversation could be had further down the line

Question on Grimes as captain

Cooper happy with his performances and as captain. Thinks we take him for granted a bit after last term. Thinks he’s thriving in the role. Opposition managers always asking about him. 

Question on what is Ayew’s best position

12 goals from wide right is some return Cooper says and thinks wide right but with license to use his instinct of finding right space. Likes what he’s doing, fantastic lad. He can play as a 9 or 10 and always does his best. 

Follow up question of is there a price to the exposure we get on our right for likes of Roberts to deal with from Ayew wandering.

Cooper says he’s noticed teams want us to go down the left, said tactical side of game is what he loves about the job. 

Celina question

Cooper spent more time with him than others but in a good way. Says stats say he produces more from left which is why he there rather than in the middle. Staff have given him ideas on what to do, he’s a boy who wants to do well. Looks at himself first if things haven’t gone well. 

Question on who may go

Factors include Prem contracts and we can’t replicate that. And others where it’s time for them to move. Any changes will be made with greater good in mind. 

Question on referees

Leon says standard has been poor this year. Cooper thinks we’re seen as little old Swansea. We need to be tougher ourselves.

Question on the kit and gambling sponsor possible due diligence on the company

Yobet deal was done before Birch came in. He doesn’t like having a gambling sponsor but they pay more than others. Happy with Joma and extension for three years has been done. Average main sponsor will pay around 300k a year in this league but around three million a year if we were in Premier League.