Swansea City – 2012-13 Season Review

What a superb season this has been for the Swans, statically the 2nd best ever. In 1981/82 we finished 6th (after leading the league until March). Here are my thoughts of the 12-13 season month by month.

Football legend Michael (not Brian) Laudrup was appointed as Swansea manager on 15th June 2012 becoming the 2nd Danish manager at the Swans after Jan Molby. He had previously managed Brondby, Getafe, Mallorca & Spartak Moscow.

He got Getafe, a relatively small club,  to the Spanish cup final and the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Cup – where they lost to Bayern Munich. He won trophies at Brondby and did well to keep Mallorca up in La Liga for the short time he was there.

In came Miguel Perez Cuesta (better known as Michu) from Rayo Vallencano, Jose Manuel Flores (better known as Chico) from Genoa in Italy, Jonathan de Guzman on loan from Villereal & Isreali ‘sensational super striker’ Itay Shechter on loan (thankfully) from Kaiserslautern before the season started.

August

We (Swansea) usually start our league campaign away and this one was no different, away to QPR, who stayed up on the last day the previous season. It hadn’t been the best of hunting grounds for us in our history, but this season was about making history and we comfortably won 5-0. Michu had the accolade of being the first player to score in the 12-13 Premier League season.

Michu added another, along with two from Dyer and one from Scott Sinclair (remember him?) as Swans went 2nd in the league alphabetically behind Fulham who also won 5-0 against Norwich that day. Most fans were saying Brendan who as the full time whistle blew.

Swans briefly went top of the league after another convincing win against newly promoted West Ham, with help from James Collins, in a 3-0 win. Scott Sinclair had left for £?m…. to Champions Man City and Swansea signed midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung from Celtic for £5m and Pablo Hernandez from Valencia for £5.5m (who is now our record transfer transfer)……

August ended with a 3-1 win in the League Cup 2nd round against Barnsley, which was an improvement on the previous season when Shrewsbury knocked us out. Maybe Swans could go all the way to Wembley this season? (Find out later!)

QPRAll smiles on the bench after Swans hammer QPR 5-0

September

An exciting 2-2 draw with Sunderland at the start of this month meant Swansea were unbeaten after 3 matches. Young Welshman Ben Davies made his debut for the injured Neil Taylor who would be out for 7 months in total. Then 3 straight league defeats, to Aston Villa, Everton & Stoke, followed (all without scoring too).

A 3-2 League Cup win against Crawley was the only win this month. Garry Monk’s 90th minute header from a corner (yes from a corner) set up an intriguing tie against the holders Liverpool at Anfield.

Some fans then raised concerns that maybe the new style wasn’t working, even though no-one had complained a month previously. I personally wasn’t worried and was confident we could turn it around.

October

We won our first league match since August, at the 6th time of asking, with a 2-1 win over Wigan at home, Hernandez and Michu with the goals. A narrow 1-0 defeat away to the Champions Man City followed – which ended up being the longest Premier League match in history with 12 minutes of additional time being played in the 2nd half. Michel Vorm would be out for at least 8 weeks, so German Gerhard Tremmel would take his place.

A 3-1 League Cup win away to the holders Liverpool was a great night, when the Swans totally outplayed them. Chico, Dyer and de Guzman scoring the goals and we progressed through to the Quarter Finals for the first time ever.

Swansea City's Chico Flores, No 4, scores against Liverpool

Chico heads Swansea ahead from a corner at Anfield

November

November saw the Swans go unbeaten in the 5 league matches they played, 3 draws and 2 wins. Pablo Hernandez and Nathan Dyer equalised late on against Chelsea at home and Southampton away respectively in two 1-1 draws , a 0-0 draw with Liverpool was sandwiched in-between a 2-1 away win at Newcastle and probably the best 45 minutes ever played at the Liberty with a 3-1 win over the much improved West Brom.

The Swans ended the month in 8th position with 20 points.

December

Swans started the month as we ended it, with another impressive performance and win. This time against Arsenal at the Emirates, Michu – who else? – scoring two goals very late on. Swans actually went above Arsenal briefly in the league table after this win.

We did lose our annual match to Norwich City, who went 10 games unbeaten after their 4-3 win at the Liberty. Swans then progressed through to the semi finals of the League Cup after a 1-0 win at home to Middlesbrough at home, even though it wasn’t the best of performances, we would go onto face Chelsea over 2 legs.

Spurs beat the Swans 1-0 in a disappointing performance live on Sky, where we failed to muster a shot on target.  A 1-1 draw against eventual Champions Man Utd, with Vorm making his comeback from injury, was a ‘bonus’ point gained. Alex Ferguson claimed striker Robin van Persie could’ve been killed by Ashley Williams, as he kicked the ball at his head. That must go down as one of the silliest comments of the season.

A drab 0-0 draw away to Reading and a 2-1 win away to Fulham – where Danny Graham scored his first goal since September – finished off the year well. Swansea sat in 9th place with 28 points.

Arsenal - Michu - December

Michu scores against Arsenal to give Swans a memorable win

January

Two entertaining 2-2 home draws against Aston Villa in the league and Arsenal in the FA Cup started off the year pretty well. Danny Graham scored his 4th goal in 4 successive matches as the Swans won 2-0 in the 1st leg against Chelsea in the League Cup semi final. It was a fantastic defensive display where Chelsea (we know what they were) had 27 attempts on Gerhard Tremmel’s goal but failed to score.

The next 5 matches in January saw just 3 goals being scored, in just 1 game (a 3-1 home win against Stoke). Three 0-0 draws occurred against Everton & Sunderland away in the league and Chelsea at home in the 2nd leg of the League Cup. Though that did see us progress to the final at Wembley against League 2 Bradford City.

Danny Graham then left for Sunderland on transfer deadline day for £5 million leaving us without a real striker for the remaining months of the season.

DGraham - JanuaryDanny Graham’s scores against Chelsea after an Ivanovic error

February

The month started with a 1-0 away defeat to West Ham, this was another disappointing display where Swans had all the possession but no goals, or many shots on target. A 4-1 win QPR brought Swansea’s first double of the season and 9 goals to 1 on aggregate.

Every teams seems to have a hammering in a season, ours came in the away game at Anfield, a 5-0 loss to Liverpool and in fairness it could have been much more had Vorm not been in great form in goal.

What a difference a week made though as we lifted the League Cup for the first time in our history, beating Bradford 5-0 in a professional performance where the gulf in class did show. You can read about my thoughts on this game in full here: http://mtj86.tumblr.com/post/44010750106/league-cup-thoughts

Winning the League Cup meant Swans would be venturing into European competition for the first time since 1991. Laudrup showed that he likes to take the cup competitions seriously, we had a bit of luck along the way, but not many managers win a major domestic trophy in their first 6 months in a job.

League Cup winners = Feb

Swans win the League Cup – Europe look out!

March

We reached the 40 point mark, the usual target needed for safety in the Premier League, with a win against Newcastle at the beginning of the month. Luke (always believe in) Moore coming off the bench to score in a 1-0 win.

3 straight defeats followed to West Brom (2-1) away and Arsenal (2-0) and Tottenham (2-1) at home. The performances weren’t the best in these matches either, we were good for a brief spell in all of them. No shots on target against Arsenal either, it did look that a lot of the players had already finished their seasons and were thinking about beaches and relaxing.

April

Swans played just 3 games in April, but still no wins. A 2-2 draw against Norwich in a match that could’ve gone either way was followed by another drab 0-0 draw at home to Southampton, where Vorm was lucky to be given a foul when it looked like he dropped the ball.

Chelsea got their ‘revenge’ at Stamford Bridge in a 2-0 league win. Neil Taylor made a welcome return after a long injury lay off. We looked devoid of confidence up front and the lack of a proper striker showed at times, again it did look at times that some players were going through the motions as Premier League survival was secured.

May

Swansea won their first match in 8 matches when we beat Wigan 3-2 at the DW Stadium, it was also the first time we had one a league match under Michael Laudrup after going behind (we went behind twice too). Itay Shechter also scored his 1st Swans goal at the 18th time of asking (causing a lot of Swans fans to rub their eyes in disbelief). This result effectively relegated Wigan to the Championship for the first time in 8 seasons.

Swansea were the opponents for Sir Alex Ferguson’s last home match as Manchester United’s manager (I know his retirement wasn’t mentioned much on the news in the lead up to the game……). We did almost spoil the party, Rio Ferdinand scored the winner 3 minutes from time after Michu equalised early in the second half.

Swans ended the season disappointingly with a 3-0 home defeat to Fulham. It was slightly flattering to the away side, but again the lack of a quality striker did show at times.

Shechter - May

Itay Shechter celebrates after scoring against Wigan – his 1st goal for 2 years

Conclusion

So overall it has probably been one of the best seasons as a Swans fan. We finished two places higher this season (9th) than last season (11th) and we never went below 11th place in the league all season. As well as a League Cup win, it couldn’t have gone much better really.

We looked much more an attacking threat than last season, though we did go off for boil slightly after our League Cup Final win, for whatever reason. Beating Arsenal, Liverpool & Chelsea (deservedly) on their own grounds was brilliant to see and raised our profile a little further. Hammering QPR on the opening day was one of my personal highlights, no surprise that they ended up finishing bottom of the league.

We won more away league matches than last season (5) but lost more home league matches this season (5) than last season (4). So good and bad I guess, for me personally the priority was staying up. And we did that with ease and no relegation fear throughout.

There is still room for improvement, of course our midfield players at times do look too afraid to shoot. That was one thing I liked about Gylfi Sigurdsson, he liked to shoot from distance – and was usually quite accurate as well.

When Danny Graham left it did leave us very short up front, we had the non scoring Itay Shechter and the not very prolific Luke Moore. Michu was played up front on his own and to me he never looked as effective as he was in his normal role of playing just behind the striker.

I’m sure the £5m we received for Danny Graham will be well invested in the summer. Lukaku and Iago Aspas have both been rumoured, from what I have seen of Lukaku he would be excellent for us I think, so fingers crossed on that one.

I am proud to say I went to all 47 matches this season, some were great & some were bad but considering not many ‘experts’ gave us a chance and said we’d get 2nd season syndrome, I don’t think anyone can complain too much. I just got frustrated with our lack of shots on goals and urgency at times.

We also tended to be a ‘second half team’ the majority of all of our goals this season were scored in the 2nd half. Again I’m sure Laudrup will do something to change this next season.

Michael Laudrup has already stated he wants 7 players for next season. With European football to play as well next season, it could be another exciting season in Swansea! I for one am looking forward to it already.

‘Once again all Europe will hear the Swansea City sound’

LaudrupMichael Laudrup. An excellent first season at the Liberty

——————————————————————————————————————————

Goal of the season – Jonathan de Guzman’s 2nd against Stoke. The sort of goal that epitomises our style, a quick attack from our own half with great link up play between Routledge & Rangel and a good pass by Graham.

Best match – Swansea 3-1 West Brom – 27th November 2012 – Probably the best 1st half of football the Liberty has ever seen, West Brom were on a great run of form themselves, but were chasing shadows for the whole half. Goals from Routledge (2) & Michu sealed the win that night.

Worst match – Has to be Liverpool 5-0 Swansea, a week before the League Cup Final but it was an awful performance all round, the only good thing was that Liverpool only scored 5. Michel Vorm was our MOTM that day, definitely one to forget.

Best chant – My favourite was ‘Boring boring Swansea’ as the goals flew in at Loftus Road on opening day. ‘I was there was Shechter scored’ came a close second.

Player of the season – For me it has to be Michu. For the amount of goals he scored and the amount of money he cost must be up there for the bargain of the season. Didn’t look like he needed any time to settle into the British game at all. Good in the air & great at making late runs into the box hopefully he’ll be here for at least another season.

Michu - SwanseaMichu (with his trademark celebration) 22 goals this season.

Special mentions – Most of the squad have all done very well this season. Chico started life at Swansea a little dodgy, but he is now aggressive in the tackle without being looking like he is going to be sent off and has now become a bit of a cult figure at the Liberty.

Ben Davies has come from nowhere to become a first team regular at the age of 19, he didn’t look out of place in an unforgiving league. Gerhard Tremmel came in for Vorm when he was injured and was superb, I must admit I was wary about this prospect but he proved me wrong.

Ben DaviesBen Davies – been excellent in his first season

Leon Britton superb as he has been for the last 10 seasons and Wayne Routledge has had a new lease of life under Laudrup. The slightly tinkered style suited Routledge superbly and was definitely one of our most consistent player

The record in full:

P – 38 W – 11 D – 13 L – 14 F – 47 A – 51 GD – -4. Position – 9th

Top goal scorer – Michu – 22 goals (18 in the league)

Top assister – Wayne Routledge, Pablo Hernandez & Jonathan de Guzman – 10 assists

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