Swansea City boss Russell Martin speaks on his future as club chiefs say sorry in a shock interview amid fan anger after a lack of signings.
Jason Levien and Jake Silverstein surprised many by having a meeting and along with Swansea City Supporters’ Trust, publishing a video of it as can be seen below.
Head coach Russell Martin wanted to make some additions to his squad to boost hopes of playoffs/promotion, a striker and a right-sided defender were in mind, according to WalesOnline.
Chief executive Julian Winter said back in December that the club had been “aiming to be active in the window” and that they were “working hard to improve the squad and look ahead to the second-half of the season”.
They instead failed in making any signings, with six leaving the club instead.
On Thursday, co-owner Levien and director Silverstein conducted a Zoom meeting with the club’s Supporters’ Trust.
Levien can be heard saying: “I think there’s some real frustration that we weren’t able to get some of the deals we had worked on over the line.
“I think it reflects, not a lack of ambition, I think there was a lot of ambition going into the window. I think it reflects more, an inability on the execution side, a little bit of unfortunate outcome that was unrelated to us and you know, being a bit unlucky.
“But there is some real frustration about not delivering more to the squad, which we think is a very strong squad overall but could have used some additions so it’s disappointing. I’m sorry to our fans we weren’t able to do that.
“I do think that we avoided making some mistakes. But really, we deeply wanted to bolster the squad and invest in the squad. We weren’t able, ultimately to get some deals over the line.”
When questioned ‘is that you who ultimately signs off on a deal for a player?’, Levien responded with: “Yes. I huddle with my partners Jake and Steve, we look at the opportunity and spend a lot of time talking Josh, Julian and Russ in making that determination,” he said.
“We govern by consensus because we all have a lot of skin in the game, and then we execute.”
Silverstein said Swansea City were in the market for a right-sided defender with “dynamism and athleticism” along with the hope of a new striker option.
On those positions, Silverstein commented: “We really set out to find both of those players and we had, I think, a pretty thoughtful list that our team and Russell compiled of who our targets were.
“We had a couple of players who we were very focused on even before the window opened. I fully expected that we would be sitting here on February 2 talking about the new striker that we’d added, the new right wing-back or right-back that we’d added, and that paired with bringing Morgan Whittaker back we felt would really give the squad the last little bit that we needed, because we don’t think we need much.”
Silverstein claims that over £16million has been invested into the club since he arrived in the summer of 2021.
He says they had funds to spend in the January window prior to selling Obafemi to Championship leaders Burnley.
“No, the money was there. We were clear about this,” said Silverstein when asked if Obafemi had to be sold for players to come in.
Regarding the situation with Obafemi, Levien clarified: “We were reluctant sellers of Michael Obafemi. We thought it was ultimately the right outcome for the club.
“Some of the offers that we made (for targets) were above the asking price that ultimately players transacted at.”
The club chiefs add Swansea are now going into the emergency loan goalkeeper and the free agents markets having failed to bring anyone in.
Silverstein said “0/8” in terms of bringing in the club’s preferred targets last month, while the duo also addressed Swansea’s financial position.
“It’s a challenge in the economic environment to own an English Championship club and where it’s clear we’re losing money every year,” added Levien. “We use player sales as one source of revenue developing and trading players.
“We don’t take any money out of the club. We just put it into it. We want to continue putting more in because we think that there’s a real growth opportunity.”
Silverstein added: “We’ve never taken any money out of the club. We’ve never had a dividend. We are not going to do that. We put money in, we keep putting money in.
“I keep putting money in, Steve [Kaplan] keeps putting money in, Jason keeps putting in and our partners keep putting money in. That’s what keeps the lights on, it’s what keeps everyone employed. That coupled with the player sales are what allows the club to continue functioning and not go into administration.”
Meanwhile, Russell Martin is of course unhappy at the failure to add to their squad in the January transfer window, saying as per WalesOnline: “I understand the supporters’ frustration and anger. We share a bit of that. It’s the cards we’ve been dealt but we’ll give everything we’ve got to this group of players that we’ve got and to the supporters.
“Ultimately we believe we can still achieve something special.”
On talk and rumours of his future at the club, he said: “I’ve never walked away from anything in my life. It’s not even crossed my mind because of the people sitting behind you (his whole backroom team).
On the coaching team: Everything I say, they share the feelings that I probably have, we all have. They wanted to come in today to show how together everyone is despite what’s gone on. It’s important for me and us.
Why didn’t it materialise?: The process we have here is really clear. We’ve been talking about players since September. We felt we needed something in the summer that we didn’t get. For us it becomes clearer as it goes on, because everything is geared around the process and performance. We chat for so many hours, me, Josh, Julian, the recruitment team. We don’t have the final say here. Jason [Levien] alluded to it yesterday, that’s with him. All of the hours that get put in, then we have a bit of ambiguity. It’s a huge body of work that takes a lot of time away. We felt we had that in place before January. Because of what we have financially, it’s not a huge pool of players we can go to, you have to be specific and detailed with the work you do. When I see all of the work that goes into that, the amount of players we met and explained to them what we do, the amount of players who agree they’d like to come here, then the process gets handed over. There’s a lack of clarity there and a bit of ambiguity. If we continue down that process, it’s not good for the club. Since I’ve been here, the club probably makes too many deadline deals. It’s not the way we’d prefer to work. We had the chance to get some things done early in the window, but we didn’t. I see the hurt that Josh had and the anger Julian had. My job is to pick people up and put us back on track. We were only going to do business with Karlan Grant because of Josh. We were going to pull a rabbit out of a hat because of him. When you leave things that late it’s dangerous.
Highest paid player – Grant – according to Levien?: I don’t know the financial details, that’s not my job, but that wasn’t the plan. We didn’t work on him for four or five weeks. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t anyone’s plan to pay that player that much. That’s not how we work. A lot more players were discussed that were far better value. By the time Josh and Julian take it to Jason, and I speak to Steve and Jake regularly, I don’t speak to Jason as much. He deals with Josh and Julian. They offer a lot of support. By the time we deliver something we feel is good for the club, so much hard work has gone into it. Josh and Julian I don’t think can be held accountable. That’s not me blaming anyone, that’s me being really honest with you. I don’t think we have any other choice but to be honest.
Speaking more on Obafemi: I think he knows how much we’ve helped him and I think he’ll be forever grateful for that. But if you don’t want to be here you don’t want to be here. Personally, I’ve never fallen out with anyone, it’s not how we work. We didn’t want that again because it reflects badly on us. We’ll have Walshy back fit, Morgan’s back. The whole thing about Morgan, I’ve got a brilliant relationship with him. I hope that’ll show in the next three months. He understood why I wanted him to go out on loan and play football. The amount of work Josh did to stay in contact with him. He’s come back and not been frustrated with me, I didn’t make the decision to call him back. Again, it’s not in my control. He’ll be in the squad tomorrow. I’ve had Rangers fans message me on linkedin saying let him go. I apologised to them saying sorry I was crap at your club but it’s not my decision.
How many deals worked on?: I spoke to players, in double figures I’d have thought. How many deals were realistic, I don’t know. Probably at least a couple in every position. Some were way more realistic at the start than towards the end. Some we made one bid for, some we didn’t and just discussed. There needs to be a bit more clarity and strategy around how we work that. We weren’t in the game enough for too many people. Moving forward as a football club, despite what’s happened, we’re all in, we love the people we work with. I get emotional talking about it. I hope we can sort that. Speaking to Jake and Steven and hearing their anger, we need to sort that. If we can sort that we give ourselves a right chance. We have a group of supporters who have been amazing, especially QPR away, Grimesy spoke about it after the game. We have a game tomorrow where everyone has a chance to unite and for us to win and make everyone feel a bit better, and for us to try and push for the playoff positions.
On if he was feeling like he has been let down: I don’t know really. This hasn’t happened intentionally. I feel sorry, feeling the atmosphere around the place on Wednesday. I feel sorry for the people here, the supporters and the players we looked at. Football is unpredictable, it’s different to any other environment. As a group, I feel like we’ve missed a few opportunities we could have really taken. I feel disappointed for everyone. A bit frustrated, the same as everyone. We’ve chosen to turn that into energy and fuel for the next months.
Happy to keep working this way?: I’m so happy with working day to day and the people we do it with. I’m not convinced we’ve got a recruitment team to be happy to have a window like this again. We need to make sure we improve this. We‘ve had a lot of problems in this transfer window, we need to find a solution. Are we happy? 100%. We love the people, the club, the place. We’ve been taken aback by the support they’ve shown us. Then the players we have, the way they work, the courage they show, how hard they work, that’s not normal. It’s taken 18 months to get to a point when we can step on the pitch and say, we know what we’re going to get. We knew when we were coming in that financially the club is well in the bottom third, maybe bottom five or six. We accepted the challenge and we’ll keep trying to grow and improve. We need to focus on identity and building. I really hope we can bring success. This was a long term project when we came in. the rest i can’t control. What we can control is how we do today. I couldn’t ask to work with better people in that sense.
Fans saying you could walk?: I’ve never walked away from anything in my life. It’s not even crossed my mind because of the people sitting behind you (his whole backroom team here). We do have to try and learn and improve.
On what are owners trying to achieve?: Their motivation has to be to get back to the Premier League, and I think it is. They bought the club in the Premier League but it’s not there anymore. People have come in and put their own money in. You saw on the video, speaking to him (Jake) he’s really cut up by the situation. He cares, speaking to Steve, he cares. The ambition has to be to get there, but it has to be in a different way, right? Even this season after eight games, maybe other owners would have been different in how they felt. I think they understand with the resources we have, it’s going in the right direction. It’s a unique project, it’s different, it’s not easy. Out of all of this, whatever’s happened, we have a massive chance to do things right now and learn from this. Hopefully that’ll be the case and we’ve got some important stuff to do between now and the end of the season. We’ve got contracts to sort. We have some really important players out of contract, let’s not wait, let’s get that done. Ryan Manning and Joel Latibeaudiere have waited. Steven’s partner has just had a baby, with the bad news he’s had recently that’s really great for him. Jay Fulton has a year left in the summer, we have some young players that have done really well. We need to protect ourselves and reward them. Like Ollie Cooper has been.
On Levien claiming the playoffs are possible: That’s my opinion as well. We could’ve made it a bit easier to do that. But I think so. The players and we’re frustrated that we’re not in there now. I think we have a really exciting opportunity and it’s up to us to make the most out of that. If they play the way they train all the time, but in particular with the added edge they’ve had over the last many games, I think we have an exciting end to the season.
This is what Twitter users said as the Swansea boss speaks on his future as club chiefs say sorry in a shock interview amid fan anger…
@DanielJJames2: Can tell there’s a massive divide within the club! Not good at all.
@JasonRees7: Usual yank trick blame someone else.
@Dollyswans: Typical American business model them at the top look for someone below to shaft. Rm being honest can see this potentially being a sliding door moment for scfc
@marchamjack: Great to see how our owners are comfortable talking to the 600 Trust members and answering those patsy questions, but nowhere to be seen in relation to the vast majority of our support who are not Trust members (and never will be with this lot in it). Nothing to see here
@markrix85: 2 mins in and I’ve heard enough.
@LivoAaron: Those 20 mins were torture. ‘We’re keeping the lights on at Swansea City’ well thanks for doing the bare minimum. How between everyone at the club one player was not signed on deadline day when we had numerous targets is scandalous. Get out.
@liamjenkins2902: Get them out of our club. The fans and the club deserve much more than this
@joelread1: Pathetic excuses. Actions speak louder than words
@iamMIKEYWILLIS: A choreographed and comfortable ‘interview’ from one half of our incompetent, greedy and parasitic owners. Never once put on the spot and a PA exercise too get the first defence in before Russell Martins press conference tomorrow. Snakes everywhere 🐍
@MattW16x: I just can’t believe a single word they say. Their complete incompetence could cost us greatly this season. We’re absolutely stuffed if we get any injuries. They NEED to bring in some free agents to fix the glaring lack of squad depth, but obviously they won’t. #YanksOut
@ryanjscfc1: Never heard so much bulls**t in my life yanks get out of our club
@gaaareth90: Admitting they’re incompetent.
@LukeGriffiths55: What an absolute farce of an interview. If you aren’t able to bring players in when you’re sitting 3 points of a play-off spot then there’s something seriously wrong at the top of the tree. There’s going to be gullible cunts who believe every word they’ve said as well. Shambles
@harrilew6: Was going to give them credit for answering some questions until about 30 seconds in, embarrassing especially from Levien. At least Silverstein looks like he gives a shit. Can’t believe they thought some of those answers were going to appease us as fans.
This is embarrassing. What a pointless task.
“We couldn’t get deals over the line”
“So what type of players did you want?”
🤯 Ask why. Ask whose fault it is. Ask why deals weren’t arranged earlier. Ask if they feel guilty. Ask what they actually bring to the club. So flimsy.
@littlebuster6: The Trust should’ve been conducting these types of public interviews since the owners came in. Glad to see they are now having to face the fanbase in some respect at least and hope they continue to do so.
@homerboss10: I think the club need to be aware how lucky Russell Martin hasn’t left yet because most people would have walked out. Martin came in with a plan and take the club forward and at the moment we’re going backwards based on how the owners operate.