Two months ago, when Graham Potter first breezed through the doors of the Liberty Stadium, he took charge of a team which had lost its way.
Swansea City, previously regarded as one of the country's best run football clubs, had just been relegated from the Premier League following a series of philosophical shifts and ill-judged managerial experiments. Potter's first and most important task, beginning at Bramall Lane this weekend, is to re-establish their identity. It is a process Chris Wilder has already completed and, on the eve of the new Championship season, believes Sheffield United are now reaping the benefits.
"I was talking to somebody yesterday about it," Wilder said, casting his mind back to the situation which confronted him after being appointed in May 2016. "I think we had lost it, to be fair. It was something we needed to bring back, a connection between the supporters and the football team. We think we have got that, and will play in a positive manner."
After winning a promotion thanks to some relentless attacking footballing and adopting a similar strategy in the second tier last term, Wilder received another reminder about the importance of identity earlier this week when Ben Woodburn, the teenage Wales international, arrived on loan from Liverpool. Although
Aston Villa also wanted to secure his services, and proposed financially superior terms, Jurgen Klopp dispatched the midfielder to South Yorkshire because United's approach mirrors his own.
"I know there are times when we're going to get pushed back," Wilder continued. "We respect that, I've got no issues with it. But this is us and how we play. It's what we are. It's who we are. When we're good enough to do it, I think it makes us dangerous to play against."
Potter admitted as much last night when he described United as "a very good side" who know "exactly what they're doing" and "how they go about things." Speaking at his first pre-match media conference since leaving Östersund, he also confirmed defenders Mike van der Hoorn and Martin Olsson are available for selection. City, who also expect to name new signings Bersant Celina and Barrie McKay in their squad, might be entering a period of transition but still boast a wealth of talented options. Federico Fernandez and
Jordan Ayew remain in south Wales despite being linked with moves away while Oli McBurnie, who impressed on loan at Barnsley last term, is poised to start up-front.
Potter, aged 43, was a left-field choice to replace former Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal, who departed following City's relegation. But he does appear to have more in common with the likes of Brendan Rodgers, Michael Laudrup and Roberto Martínez, who helped but his employers on the map, than, say, Bob Bradley or Francesco Guidolin. Having established his reputation by leading Östersund from the fourth tier of Swedish football to the first, Potter's career is on an upward curve thanks to some unusual but
innovative methods. Players at the Jämtkraft Arena were encouraged to take part in community activities and even theatre productions to take them "out of their comfort zone."
"This is a Premier League club from the last seven years and it wants to try to get back, but get back in a way that there is an identity and an understanding of what they want to be on the pitch," he said. "That was the interesting thing for me; the chance to build something."