Steve Cooper draws on international experience for Championship play-off final

Swansea head coach Steve Cooper (PA Wire)
13:00pm, Fri 28 May 2021
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Steve Cooper believes being an England World Cup winner will help Swansea seal a return to the Premier League.

Swansea meet Brentford in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley on Saturday, three seasons after their seven-year stay in the top flight ended.

Cooper says his ethos is all about a collective approach and no hierarchical structure with “everyone having a voice”.

But the 41-year-old Welshman admits leading the likes of England starlets Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi to Under-17 World Cup success in 2017 can only assist Swansea’s promotion ambitions.

“I think all big experiences help you and give you something to reflect on,” Cooper said, assessing what was England’s first World Cup triumph at any age group since 1966.

“In some ways it’s the same and in others it’s different.

“It’s my biggest game in club football, of course. But I haven’t thought about it being my biggest game in management.

“I just think about what it means to the football club and the supporters.

“It’s a proud city, a proud football club, we are very much together as a community because we haven’t got any clubs around us.

“Going up to Wembley is a real together club trying to do the business, and I’m very much focused on what’s in hand and what I can control.”

Cooper, who has been linked to the vacancies at Crystal Palace and West Brom, has steered Swansea into the Championship play-offs during his two seasons in senior club management.

It has been achieved on modest financial resources with Swansea having to sell Daniel James, Joe Rodon and Oli McBurnie to Premier League clubs to balance the books.

The value of promotion to the Premier League is estimated at £170million to the play-off final winner, yet Cooper says the monetary implications will not cloud his thinking.

“You have to get the balance right between the magnitude of the game and what’s at stake,” Cooper said.

“There’s no point in ignoring that because there’s so much to play for.

“But it’s a game and you still have to stick to your way of working, stick to the plan, give consistent messages so the players feel as comfortable and as clear as they can be.

“There’s lots of stuff around the game, but it’s a football match we need to be ready for.”

Swansea finished one spot and seven points below third-placed Brentford in the regular Championship season.

Their two league meetings were drawn 1-1 but Brentford overcame Swansea in the play-off semi-finals last season and there has been a fair bit of animosity between the two sides of late.

“I don’t think those games matter, this is different,” Cooper said.

“Whatever’s gone on in the past I don’t really think has an effect on this one.

“They are an excellent team with a lot of really good players.

“But we’ll think about how we approach it and how we win the game, what we bring to the table must come first.”

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