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Have Swansea City ever had it so good?

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: March 06, 2013

Michu
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THE temperatures at the training ground may make Michael Laudrup miss Majorca.

But then the sun is beating down on Swansea City like never before.

This football season is the 93rd Swansea have been part of since their formation 101 years ago.

And the consensus is that 2012-13 should go down as the best.

Swansea, say the experts, have never had it so good.

"We are in dreamland," says Colin Jones, Swans historian and author of numerous books on the club.

John Burgum covered Swansea for 25 years — including the John Toshack era — for this newspaper and remains a season-ticket holder at the Liberty Stadium today.

"This has to be the club's finest season," he suggests.

"It's an absolute joy seeing the players walking out and playing at our wonderful stadium these days."

Some among Swansea's followers thought their last campaign would be nigh on impossible to eclipse, that the feats of Brendan Rodgers's team in 2011-12 may not be surpassed any time soon.

Yet Laudrup's side have managed to take the club forward again, to continue the long success story which started when Brian Flynn went to work in the transfer market some 11 years ago.

"Michael Laudrup has done a brilliant job," says Wyndham Evans, one of Swansea's all-time great players and part of their first golden period.

"I think this team is better than the one he inherited — even Joe Allen might struggle to get into this side.

"Swansea are now a genuine top Premier League club. I can't see any reason why they can't go from strength to strength and improve again next season."

Leon Britton (right), one of Swansea's modern-day legends, pointed out the other day that the club's extraordinary run of progress cannot go on forever.

The very top of the English game is not that far away in terms of league places, but there is a chasm in terms of wealth, status and resources between Swansea and those above.

Yet there is still room for some improvement, still scope for Swansea to step on even further.

"I read that Michael Laudrup is excited about next season because of the players he expects to bring in during the summer," adds Jones.

"If he is excited, what does that make people like me?

"We have not plateaued — we are still breaking down barriers and moving up.

"If we end up finishing eighth this season and then we go on and improve again next season, we are talking about the fringes of the Champions League places.

"That beggars belief, really."

Written off at the start of last season, Swansea surprised everyone by ending up 11th, missing out on the top half on goal difference alone.

Next Swansea were told that the second season among the elite would be even harder than the first, yet now they are eighth, with 40 points on board and ten games still ahead.

There were only four fixtures left to play when Rodgers's Swansea side got past the 40-barrier, so a golden opportunity to improve on last season's final total of 47 points presents itself this spring.

When you consider that Laudrup's men have also picked up the Capital One Cup — the first major trophy in the history of the club — it is hard to argue that this is not the finest season Swansea have ever had.

The good news does not end there, either.

Huw Jenkins has just spelt out imminent plans to increase the Liberty's capacity, while Garry Monk, Ashley Williams and the rest are now doing their daily work at a new purpose-built training ground.

The Landore facility is not yet finished, but it will be very soon.

Over at Fairwood, meantime, Swansea are working on a second new training venue.

They can plan for the future with some confidence now, for they are looking forward to a third straight season — and only the fifth ever — at the highest level.

And, generally speaking, the longer you hang around in the top tier, the easier it gets to put down roots.

"I think we are going to stay in the Premier League for several seasons," Burgum adds.

"And one of the main reasons for that, I believe, is the stability that Huw Jenkins, Martin Morgan and Co have brought to the club.

"We are in a far better position financially now than we ever were the last time we got to the top division."

Last time, of course, Toshack's Swansea side threatened for a long while to round off their climb from Fourth Division to First by actually winning the title.

They led the way in the table as late as March 1982, but a late-season slump left Swansea in sixth — their best ever finish in the English pyramid.

"But we went down the next season, whereas the current team have actually improved on what they did in their first year," Evans points out.

Happily, Swansea's recent success is built on firmer foundations than the remarkable rise under Tosh.

"Just getting into the Premier League was far harder than reaching the First Division, because there was much more of an even playing field in those days," says Burgum.

"We were top of the table three times in 1981-82 but, because of the financial problems at the club, we fell down quite dramatically in the second season.

"We were all jumping for joy in 1981 and 1982 — the achievements then were fantastic.

"But to be in the top ten of the Premier League, and to be going into Europe next season on the back of a major trophy win, makes this the best time we have ever had.

"In my opinion there is no question about that."

Jones, meantime, is keen to stress that the successes of the early 80s should not be ignored, that the likes of Alan Curtis and Robbie James should not be considered "lesser players" because of what the current crop are doing.

But the lump of silverware which now resides in SA1 is evidence of what this generation have done.

"Some of the top clubs put out understrength teams in the League Cup, but it is still a major honour and they would all like to win it," argues Jones, who watched his first Swansea game in 1962.

"Arsenal would bite your hand off for a trophy — and look how long it is since Newcastle United won a major competition.

"We finished sixth in 1982, but I think winning the cup tips the balance in favour of this season's team.

"We are watching Swansea play in the kind of games we used to only see on TV.

"Undoubtedly, it is fair to say that we have never had it so good."

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3 comments

  • brian17  |  March 07 2013, 7:08PM

    hope its a great match at the hawthorns,come on you baggies.

  • CroJack  |  March 06 2013, 7:21PM

    This season has been unbelievable. We won League Cup semi-final against europian champions, and that was against Chelsea's strongest squad. A multimilion squad where one player costs more than all Swansea players. Arsenal and Aston Villa lost to Bradford although they played to win and they didn't have understrenght teams on the pitch. We outclassed Bradford in a stunning display at Wembley and won 5:0 (it could have been 10:0), a record result in a League Cup final. We totally outplayed Arsenal (Champions League team) in Premier League in London, won 2:0 and had possesion 56 %. And the first half at Liberty against West Brom when they couldn't get the ball was outstanding. With 10 games left we are only 2 points behind Liverpool, a club with one of the best strikers in the world. Remember, we are maybe the only team in Premier League without a top quality striker. Swansea games are being watched by milions of South Koreans and we got a lot of new fans all over the world. 78 % of Real Madrid fans want our gaffer to be their new manager, Williams is linked with Arsenal and Liverpool, and I am sure many clubs would like to have Michu, Chico, Rangel, Vorm, Davies, DeGuzman, Ki, Routledge, Pablo, Dyer and Taylor in their squads.

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  • JohnTosh  |  March 06 2013, 7:05AM

    In my world then this year's performance is much greater than the 1980s considering the strength of the PL today. But great article.

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