7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018

Swansea on the verge of making history again

Iwas first introduced to Swansea City FC by my dear friend Bryn Jones who took me to watch them play against eventual league champions Scunthorpe United.

The match was won by Scunthorpe, but it will be remembered as the match that ended Adebayo Akinfenwa's season for Swansea. This was back in 2007, when Swansea were competing in League 1 (third tier), and were relatively unknown in this part of the world.

Since that match my friend ensured that I keenly followed the Swans' adventure.

Six seasons later, and after four managerial changes, the Swans see themselves challenging Chelsea to secure another Wembley final for the Welsh club.

How did they reach such heights?

That is a question that has baffled many in this part of the world. Especially when looking at the details of how the club's obstacles only made it stronger.

The astonishing thing about the Swans' story has not simply been by getting the right results, but also by a footballing philosophy that ranked them as one of the best passing teams in Europe.

That philosophy was instilled by a charismatic manager in 2007, Roberto Martinez (the current Wigan Athletic manager), who managed the club for only two full seasons, but was able to add the Spanish flavour that remains in the team.

Swansea's rise was done through playing a new passing style similar to the tiki-taka way of Barcelona. Additionally, Martinez used his knowledge of the game to bring players like Jordi Gomez and Angel Rangel to Swansea.

In his first season the club won the league and secured promotion to the Championship in emphatic style, ahead of the likes of Nottingham Forest and Leeds United. While in his second and final season, Swansea finished eighth in the Championship, six points adrift of the playoffs.

The same philosophy was carried by his successors - Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers and the legendary Michael Laudrup. Each used his effective scouting networks to bring in players that contributed to Swansea's rise, and managed better results than his predecessor.

For every season since that Scunthorpe match I first attended, Swansea have been losing their key star players in the summer transfer market. Some like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jordi Gomez left because their time at Swansea was only on loan, while others like Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair were tempted by other clubs.

Although every year, Swansea were able to replace such players with others equal in talent, if not more talented players. Credit has to go to the board for their vision in guiding the club to its recent heights, and investing wisely to avoid mistakes of previously promoted clubs.

Looking at one of the more recent examples of Gylfi Siggurdson, who was brought in on loan in January 2012. His impact was immediate, and scored seven goals during his time at the South Wales club. Last summer Sigurdsson signed for Tottenham Hotspur, and left a void that many thought would be hard to fill, due to his quality in the trequartista position.

Against such odds, Swansea brought in the Premier League's surprise package of the season when Laudrup signed Michu from Rayo Vallecano in Spain. So far, Michu has been one of the key performers of the season in the Premier League, and may even be rewarded with a cap for Spain in a few months time. Now Swansea have to face Chelsea in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal if they are to secure an appearance in Wembley. Yet again, the Swans are on the brink of making history.

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