Swansea City chairman Huw Jenkins says “his biggest regret” is not re-hiring former manager Brendan Rodgers “at any cost” in January 2016.
The Welsh club are last in the Premier League and have just appointed Carlos Carvalhal as their sixth manager since Rodgers left for Liverpool in 2012.
However, Celtic boss Rodgers had talks with Jenkins about a return before the club appointed Francesco Guidolin.
“I wanted him back, I spoke to him three times,” said Jenkins.
“That would have been the biggest thing that we, or I, should have done differently.”
Italian Guidolin lasted 10 months, while Rodgers went on to guide Celtic to four trophies during a 69-game unbeaten domestic run, as well as two Champions League campaigns.
Since then, Swansea have appointed, then sacked, Bob Bradley and Paul Clement.
Jenkins, who confirmed he will consider his position at the end of the season after coming in for fans’ criticism, also said that:
- Clement, who was sacked in December after a year in charge, should have been dismissed earlier
- Carvalhal will only have the profits from last summer’s player sales to spend in January
- The failure to re-sign Wales midfielder Joe Allen from Liverpool in summer 2016 is another regret
- He does not think American investors Jason Levien and Steven Kaplan deserve criticism
‘There is money left from the summer’
Swansea sold playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton for £45m in August after a summer of speculation, while Fernando Llorente joined Tottenham for a reported £15m and Jack Cork moved to Burnley for a fee that could rise to £10m.
Jenkins conceded that the sale of Sigurdsson on deadline day could have been handled differently, with Clement unable to recruit a replacement.
“I don’t think any of us were happy with it and how it panned out or the way it ended,” he said. “With more time, probably we would have made different decisions.”
Jenkins harbours another transfer market regret from the previous summer, when he held talks with Liverpool over a £11m deal for Allen and held discussions with the player.
However, the club’s parlous financial state meant Swansea could not commit to a move and the midfielder instead signed for Stoke.
“We’ve got to buy and sell players to try to fund any new acquisitions, but at that time at 2016 was very simple, we had no one shareholder that could cover our financial position if we got relegated.”
With those issues now resolved, Carvalhal will have money to spend in January and Jenkins believes the former Sheffield Wednesday boss can get more out of the existing squad, too.
“I don’t think we have seen the squad we have play to its full potential,” Jenkins said.
“It will be interesting to see if Carlos can get more out of them and then we can have a more balanced view of how our summer worked out.
“There will be money left over from the summer. That money has not gone anywhere. If we wanted to go beyond that, it’s what we have always done and how we have always worked.”
‘I have to take responsibility’
Jenkins, who has been chairman since 2002, has faced criticism from supporters due to the team’s poor form and discontent over the handling of the takeover by an American group in 2016.
He said he took responsibility and admitted that his position at the club would be untenable if results did not begin to improve.
The 54-year-old said he would consider standing down at the end of the season, adding that his family would be happy if he was no longer in the post.
“It is not about the abuse,” he said. “I have some pride in what we have done and if we are not hitting those levels or cannot hit those levels again, of course I will feel like that. I think that is understandable.
“There are reasons, but I think probably a lot of people don’t want to listen to the reasons because they want to see action.
“I don’t totally agree my position is how they say it is. But if we continue on this path of hardly winning football games, yes, I have no doubt it will be.”
Americans are committed to club
While Jenkins praised Swansea’s American investors, he did admit that he would have handled their original takeover deal differently in hindsight.
He denied claims that the Swansea City Supporters Trust – who have a 21.1% shareholding – were kept in the dark over the takeover, saying their representatives were alerted in March 2016 to a possible deal.
The purchase was concluded in July that year, with the Trust saying at the time it was “disappointed not to have been included in any talks”.
“For people to come out and say they didn’t know about the sale annoys me, because it’s wrong,” said Jenkins.
“If they say they didn’t have [enough] time, or that the four months wasn’t enough, or we didn’t have clarity about how we wanted to go forward, I agree, but there’s a difference.
“I think it could have been handled better from all sides. [It] just needed some truth and honesty really on where we stood with the Trust.
“If they wanted to go down a certain route, we should have had proper discussion even if there were arguments. Then we could have hammered out that deal properly.”
Jenkins said the American investors had bolstered the club’s financial security and that he is “100% confident” in the long-term commitment of Kaplan and Levien, even if the club is relegated.
“Nobody can guarantee people are going to make the right decisions in our club every day of the week,” said Jenkins.
“When the pressure is on and people want instant success there is going to be a variety of things some are happy with and some aren’t. We will see on the pitch whether it works or it doesn’t.”