Garry Monk: Swansea City will suffer if heads are not right
IT takes only one word for Garry Monk to highlight the perils facing Swansea City should they relax in the next couple of months.
"Liverpool," Swansea's club skipper says.
If felt a little like the tail-end of the season on the Swansea training ground this week, what with the sun raising the temperature and 40 Premier League points already on the board.
Yet there are still ten Premier League fixtures in front of Swansea, still two-and-a-half months before they can put the shin pads away for six weeks or so.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Michael Laudrup's side are safe from relegation and, with European qualification already secure, it would be understandable if their focus waned a little.
But there are financial incentives which Swansea's hierarchy hope will keep driving the players on right through until the season concludes with a home game against Fulham on May 19.
And regardless of the bonuses on offer, Monk insists Swansea will be motivated by a desire to avoid embarrassments like the one suffered at Anfield last month.
With the Capital One Cup final around the corner, Laudrup made changes on Merseyside.
But even the regulars who did play that day looked off the pace, leaving Laudrup apologising to the fans and the players licking the wounds left by a 5-0 thrashing.
Swansea were hammered by Liverpool and, while there have been numerous good days this season, that is not an experience they want to go through again.
"I think we realise that we can't just turn up and expect to get points in the Premier League," Monk adds.
"We saw that at Anfield. If you turn up a few per cent down on your top level, you are going to get punished.
"That was a lesson learned for us — whoever you are playing against in this league, you cannot get away with dropping off."
Laudrup questioned his players' attitude after Liverpool, admitting he had "learnt a lot for the future" after Swansea's worst defeat in 11 years.
Some players, presumably, went down in the manager's estimation that day, but there should be opportunities to impress him this spring.
Swansea's Premier League status may be secure for another season, but there are some who still have to convince Laudrup that they should still be around in 2013-14.
As a team, meanwhile, Swansea are aiming to better the achievements of last season.
"We finished with 47 points last year and I think that's a good next target for us," Monk says.
"We want to try to beat our total from last season and that is something for us to focus on now.
"Hopefully we can get there and have another look at it then.
"We have said we want to end up in the top ten, and not only that we want to finish as high in the top ten as possible.
"But nothing is certain yet. We are in there with a good points tally at the moment, but we have a tough run of games coming up and it's not going to be easy to finish in the top half.
"It sounds boring, but we have to focus on each game as it comes along and try to keep our points tally ticking over."
Whether Swansea's focus will be right from here on in has been a theme of the week after victory over Newcastle United.
But there is a theory that the release of tension can actually boost a team's performance level.
"We can look forward to the games we have left without the pressure that comes with fighting against relegation," Monk adds.
"Hopefully, having that release of pressure will help us, but it can work both ways.
"If you take your foot off the gas too much you can get punished, so we have to get the balance right.
"Hopefully the points we have already will mean we can express ourselves a little bit more and take a few more risks in the final third."
Monk expects Swansea minds to be on the task in hand at West Bromwich Albion this weekend.
He points to the Newcastle victory as evidence of this team's mental fortitude, for there were doubts over whether Swansea's attitude would be right last Saturday after success in the Capital One Cup final.
"People were doubting whether we could perform after Bradford, but we did," Monk says.
Swansea should travel to The Hawthorns with considerable confidence, for they have beaten the Baggies in all three of their meetings since promotion to the top tier.
Swansea chalked up their first ever Premier League win against Albion in September 2011, then managed what was a rare away triumph in the Black Country 13 months ago.
The two clubs' most recent meeting, at the Liberty in November, saw Laudrup's Swansea produce probably their best half of football yet and an their in-form visitors were beaten by half-time.
As a result of those results, Monk warns, there will be not much need for motivation in the Albion dressing room this weekend.
"I am pretty sure their team-talk will be about the recent record we have against them," says Monk, who turned 34 yesterday.
"But they are a rival of ours for a place in the top ten, so we have to use that as our motivation.
"They are going to be keen to put the record straight against us, so there's added motivation for them.
"We have to make sure we match that."