Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.About two and a half months ago Swansea City fans I knew were not exactly gloating but were smiling to me, probably the only West Ham fan they knew at the fact that their team had won 4-1. At that time, the way the football mood was melding it appeared that the Swans were going, like last season, to escape relegation by the skin of their teeth whilst the hammers looked as if they were on the way down to the Championship.
Fast forward to today the thirteenth of May. West Ham play Everton knowing that they secured another Premiership season a week ago. Swansea City however were relegated. Their extremely slim chances were cut to non existence by losing 2-1 to already relegated Stoke City.
And with that relegation there’s the example of how fairy stories don’t always have a happy ending. Or if they do unexpected bumps occur. Their rise from Division Two and the brink of bankruptcy to the Premiership and their first ever cup competition win is the stuff of legend. They were the team people admired and yet now they are relegated. Of course to add insult to injury their bitter local rivals Cardiff City are taking their place amougst the elite.
(A quick aside here. I’ve not met that many Cardiff fans gloating about Swansea’s fate. If only because they would have wanted to have seen the return of the South Wales derby)
So how has it come to this? Well their American owners have to take a vast amount of blame for their fate. But probably with hindsight their decline truly began in November 2015 when the Chief executive Huw Jenkins sacked club stalwart and then manager Garry Monk (I chatted about his autobiography (written whilst still with the club) in this blog. Read with hindsight it’s probably the most bittersweet football book you will ever read. Just as the film about their rise to the Premiership, From A Jack To A King, will be probably the most bittersweet football film you’ll see for a while.
Whether the firing of Garry Monk was justified or not is not the point here. The point is that by sacking him in an attempt to stay in the Premiership Swansea City lost their innocence. That certain somethng that made them different from other clubs was gone. They were like all the rest.
And then we come to the American owners. I suspect that they felt that the Swans were going to be a sort of Premiership cash cow. Because when Huw Jenkins and the previous group of businessmen took over the club from the brink of bankruptcy they seemed to have the knack for the most part of picking the right manager. People like Roberto Martinez or Brendon Rodgers seemed to be left of centre managers capable of finding inexpensive but talented players from across Europe (I chatted about the book Spanish Swans by Pablo Gomez which went into this).
However when the American owners took over that knack was already eluding the Swans. They had just survived staying up last season. There was I remember a tweet by a Conservative Welsh councillor that mentioned that Swansea City like Theresa May was “strong and stable” (this was during the election) forgetting as I reminded him that last season they had three managers so not so strong and stable (he blocked me since).
So if the club were unable to find cheap bargains like Michu anymore they needed the owners to put up much more money to provide players that would keep them up. This they didn’t do and despite the false dawn of manager Carlos Carvalhal’s early results (including the West Ham one) gradually the growing problems came to damn them to relegation.
The future? Who knows. But as club legend Leon Britton said. It would be better that they were out of the top flight for years if it meant that when they did return they were ready for life again in the Premiership.
As a West Ham fan I hope they do.
Until the next time.