Premier League Season Review – Swansea City

Swansea City: 12th

FA Cup: Round Three

Capital One Cup: Round Three

After guiding the club to eighth and attaining 56 points in his first full season in charge, it was always going to be a difficult ask for Swansea manager Garry Monk to improve on that this time around. Still, he had players in form and full of confidence, and they looked well capable of fighting for another top half finish, so nobody could have envisaged that one of English (or indeed Welsh) football’s brightest coaching prospect would be out of a job by early December.

It had all started so promisingly, as Bafetimbi Gomis continued from where he left off in 2014-15 by scoring in the opening four games, where they picked up eight points. They had also pulled off one of the signings of the summer by recruiting Ghana star Andre Ayew on a free transfer, and he made a tremendous impact as he proved instrumental in the opening day 2-2 draw at champions Chelsea and the win at home to Manchester United at the end of August.

But something mysterious happened during the international break, as from the moment they returned for the trip to Watford the Swans just seemed to lose their way. The attractive style of football for which they were greatly admired had vanished overnight, and results took a turn for the worse. That defeat at Vicarage Road began a run of six matches without victory in all competitions, scoring only three times and looking totally devoid of any attacking impetus.

Success late on at Aston Villa brought only brief respite as it turned out to be Monk’s final win in charge; the former club captain failing to emerge from his first serious test as a manager as chairman Huw Jenkins sensed a downward spiral that could only be halted by a fresh voice. It took a long time to appoint a successor, so the ever reliable First Team Coach Alan Curtis controlled affairs right up until mid-January.

During that time there was little cause for celebration as they came up short in some tight games and continued to find goals hard to come by, with Gomis having completely lost his composure and some unrest behind the scenes leading to Jonjo Shelvey’s omission before his eventual departure to Newcastle United. The sole victory came on Boxing Day, and early in the New Year came an afternoon to forget as they were beaten in the FA Cup by League Two promotion chasers Oxford United.

By the time experienced Italian Francesco Guidolin was unveiled as the new Head Coach, Swansea were just a point clear of the bottom three and had just lost to fellow strugglers Sunderland, so the need for a strong start could not have been greater. Guidolin watched from the stands as they secured a nervy home win over Watford, before a determined showing yielded their first ever league triumph over Everton as Ayew regained his scoring touch.

Some new players were brought to the club during the January transfer window in the shape of hardworking striker Alberto Paloschi and midfielder Leroy Fer, who was on loan for the rest of the season from Queens Park Rangers. They both made a decent start to life at the Liberty Stadium, but it was an established performer who stole the show to lift them up the table.

Gylfi Sigurdsson had had a fairly quiet season by his standards up until the turn of the year, but suddenly exploded into form as he netted vital goals against Norwich City and Chelsea to propel the club to safety. By the time of the latter, they were already on the brink of sealing another year in the Premier League after an impressive run of results which had also taken in victories over Arsenal and Aston Villa, a couple of which being achieved while Guidolin was absent due to illness.

In general, performances had not improved redically, but the team had learned how to fight doggedly for points, defending resolutely to pick up critical points at home. It was also a case of quality shining through, as a team containing the ability of Swansea should never have even been presented with the threat of dropping down into the Championship.

The campaign was seen out with relative comfort as a poor end to April was countered by seven points from a possible nine to finish, as Liverpool and West Ham United were beaten convincingly and Manchester City held thanks to an Ayew free-kick. He ended as leading scorer with 12 goals, while Guidolin was handed a new contract to silence the doubts over his long-term future.

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