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Saints aim higher than Swans
Swansea City tonight host St Gallen. Not a fixture that instantly makes you envious, but one Saints surely wouldn’t mind too much themselves next season.
It’s not because of anything to do with St Gallen, a team who finished last season third in the mighty Swiss Super League, but because it is in European competition.
However, to suggest that Swansea, this Sunday’s visitors to St Mary’s, are some sort of template for Saints would be wrong. Saints have ambitions far above that.
Swansea qualified for the Europa League via the League Cup.
It’s a route that Saints could take. Despite a plethora of top flight teams still left in the competition, with so many clubs fielding reserve sides a full strength Saints would have a great chance of winning the competition.
Their priorities lay elsewhere, though, and that’s where that difference in ambition comes in.
Saints are aiming for European qualification.
But it’s not the Europa League.
And it’s not via winning a cup.
The start to this season has lit the blue touch paper in terms of imagination as to just where Saints might get to.
At the end of the last campaign, and even the beginning of this, some fans have oddly been trying to talk down the club’s chances and ambitions.
But their aims are quite clear, and the statements made by Artur Boruc, right, prove what is being said and thought about in the confines of the dressing room.
The experts, such as Dave Armstrong in his interview with The Daily Echo yesterday, are really taking notice too.
There is a growing belief that this is no blip for Saints.
Of course, all these things take time. Saints might not reach their goal of European qualification via the league this season. It might be that a year of learning to handle the pressure of trying for those lofty targets is required for a squad largely inexperienced at that sort of level.
But they are on track.
Ceiling Swansea have done superbly well since their promotion to the top flight, but you still feel there is a ceiling on just how far they can probably go.
Maybe that is unfair. Maybe the outside world, and indeed Swansea fans, might view Saints in the same way.
But, at the moment, optimism and hope runs high.
Saints v St Gallen next season?
Saints would rather it was Barcelona or AC Milan, but St Gallen would almost certainly represent a fifth place finish in the league ... unless they do something remarkable in a cup competition.
That would be progress, and not the end of the road.
It can be hard to imagine how teams like Swansea qualify for Europe without a cup run.
Saints are aiming to prove that, for them, it is very possible.
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