There are a number of teams that performed much better than expected this season, and Swansea City were no different. Built on strong footballing foundations from Martinez to Rodgers to Laudrup and now on to Garry Monk, Swansea have continued to grow in what would be considered ‘the right way’. Swansea’s season began with some difficulties, especially looking at their summer window. Losing key players such as Michel Vorm, Chico Flores and Ben Davies, Swansea had some big holes to fill in their team. In these areas in particular, Lukasz Fabianski and Federico Fernandez came in on four-year deals and proved to be brilliant signings. Fabianski showed some outstanding goalkeeping performances throughout the season and became one of the better keepers in the league.
Add to these the signings of Bafetimbi Gomis on a free which looked like a huge coup, Jefferson Montero fresh off the back of a strong World Cup, and arguably their best summer signing, Icelandic playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson from Tottenham. All of these signings pieced into an already strong squad with a young, energetic manager led the Swansea fans to be fairly optimistic going into the season. Their optimism paid off as the Swans weren’t in the bottom half of the Premier League table all season, a remarkable achievement.
It’s difficult to sum up Swansea’s season. Completing the double over both Arsenal and Manchester United would suggest they were capable of beating the sides above them, but these, and one win against Southampton, were the only points they picked up against these sides. However, they didn’t lose to any of the clubs below them at home. The same can be said about away games against the bottom six, but then from the teams 14th up to 9th they picked up just one point away from home.
In terms of areas to improve, although Gomis looked okay, they failed to replace the goals Wilfried Bony scored pre-January before his move to Manchester City. I’m sure Monk will be looking for a top striker in the summer and adding that into the squad they already have could see them competing slightly higher with sides like Tottenham and Liverpool.
Key Player – Gylfi Sigurdsson
Sigurdsson, for me, was one of the most underrated midfielders in the Premier League this campaign. Sold by Tottenham to South Wales last summer, Sigurdsson arrived at Swansea with a lot of expectation on his shoulders. Having spent a loan spell at the Swans back in 2012, the fans knew what they were getting from the Icelandic playmaker, and he didn’t disappoint this season.
Some memorable goals against Arsenal and Manchester United saw him very quickly secure seven league goals, and picking up 10 assists along the way shows how much of an asset he became for this Swansea side. Like the team in general, he did miss the presence of Bony in front of him after January and his goals and assists did stall for a little bit during this period, but his performances began to pick up again towards the end of the season; Swansea will be hoping he can continue his brilliant first season back at the Liberty with even stronger performances next campaign. Obviously, with his performances comes interest, and I’m sure they’ll be some this summer, but it’s paramount that Swansea keep hold of their midfielder if they want to progress as a club.
Most Improved Player – Lukasz Fabianski
Arguably one of the most underrated goalkeepers in the league, Fabianski proved his worth in a fantastic season in South Wales. The reason I’ve picked him as most improved in the Swansea team is the difference he’s made in terms of his performances from where he was this time last year.
Released by Arsenal, not many thought Fabianski was good enough to play regularly in the Premier League. He also picked one of the harder jobs to walk into, trying to fill the boots of departing Swans goalkeeper Michel Vorm, who moved on to Tottenham after performing so well for a number of years at Swansea.
Fabianski went on to prove so many people wrong throughout the course of this season. 12 clean sheets, just one off of the top, shows how well he performed in goal and was pivotal in Swansea’s eighth-place finish in the league. He also made the most saves out of any keeper in the Premier League this campaign with 136, which just shows how a lot of these clean sheets were down to him and not the defence in front of him. His most notable performance came against his former side Arsenal at the Emirates when he was remarkable in keeping Swansea in the game up until Gomis went up the other end and won the game for Monk’s side. Without Fabianski in that match, and in so many more, I don’t think Swansea would’ve picked up half the points they did in the end.
Fans’ View – Declan Terry (Head Admin for The Liberty Legion)
One word to describe Swansea’s season – amazing. Before the season started many pundits predicted the Swans to miserably fail under the inexperienced Garry Monk. However, from day one in which we beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, Monk has proved everyone wrong and has kept on doing so all season long, leading Swansea to eighth place – 10 places above what many predicted us to end the season in. We were joint top of the table until mid-September and despite obviously descending from the top-spot, we haven’t left the top half of the table all season. This shows tremendous consistency and we haven’t really endured a proper dip in form all campaign.
Every single player has contributed well, but especially the summer signings of Lukasz Fabianski, Federico Fernandez and Gylfi Sigurdsson have been brilliant. Fabianski replaced Michel Vorm, who gave up first team football for warming Tottenham’s bench, and the Pole has been outstanding! Hence why he picked up the Best Newcomer, Away Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards. Fernandez has been a rock in the defence and the partnership of Ashley Williams and Fernandez is ridiculously strong, and ridiculously underrated. And then there’s Gylfi Sigurdsson who has been immense all season long and has been a joy to watch, scoring some belting goals from midfield.
If Garry Monk can continue to improve Swansea, I’m sure next season will be as successful and we could even go one better and challenge for the Europa League places.