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These days, Swansea City Football Club are a massive brand, known globally around the world and are competing well in the Premier League.

They are winners of major trophies, and are able to attract big names to the Liberty Stadium. It wasn’t always like that though.

Michu celebrates his goal versus Crystal Palace

Rewind 10 years. Swansea (and Hull City) are in what is now League Two, battling to stave off relegation to the Conference Premier, and stay in League Football. There is hardly any money to spend and on the pitch it is dire, as the Swans are bottom of the table in March. A late run of form sees the Swans take it to the last day, where they play mid-table Hull City needing a win to stay up and send Exeter City or Carlisle United down. The stayed up by winning 4-2, thanks in no small part to Jamie Thomas bagging a hat-trick to send Exeter down. The revival started here.

Over the next season they steadied the ship, as first Brian Flynn and then Kenny Jackett steered the men from South Wales to a solid tenth place, and in 2004-05 they went up with a third place finish, gaining promotion to League One and showing that the good times were coming back. This was their last season at the iconic Vetch Field, as Swansea moved into the nearby state-of-the-art Liberty Stadium.

Swansea’s first season in League One was a roaring success, with the club finishing in the play-offs Swansea just missed out on promotion, after a penalty shoot out defeat to Barnsley in the final after a 2-2 draw.

However, it was delaying the inevitable as Swansea went up the very next season. Former Swansea midfielder Roberto Martinez, who featured in that escape on the final day in 2003, replaced Jackett as manager in the middle of the season as Swansea missed out on the play-offs. However, he did oversee Swansea comfortably take the title with 92 points in the following season, with a run of 18 straight league games being the bedrock of a fantastic season for the Swans.

Their first season back in the Championship was a solid one, as the club clinched eighth place in the table as they laid down the foundations for an assault on promotion next season. Swansea’s road to recovery was still going strong, although it was to be Martinez’s last season in charge of Swansea, as he was snapped up by Wigan Athletic tasked with keeping the Latics in the Premier League, whilst Paulo Sousa was drafted in to take the Swans to the next level.

Sousa’s solitary season in charge was a solid one, and it was only as a result of Blackpool pipping them to the final play-off spot on the final day of the season that Swansea missed out on the chance to gain promotion. Sousa was approached by big-spending Leicester City, and Brendan Rodgers was brought in to fill the gap left by the former Juventus midfielder. Under Rodgers, the style of play got better and better and the results kept on improving, and they finished third, the club’s best finish for over 20 years. More importantly, they were given a go in the play-offs. They beat Nottingham Forest over two legs in the semi-finals, to set up a nail-biting finale with Brian McDermott’s Reading at Wembley.

Within 40 minutes the Jacks were 3-0 up courtesy of a brace from Scott Sinclair, with Stephen Dobbie also scoring to give them a commanding lead over Reading. Reading came out and attacked in the second half, scoring two quick goals to set up a grandstand finish. the decisive blow came from Scott Sinclair, who grabbed a hat trick with ten minutes to go, and in the process Swansea became the first Welsh club to ever play in the Premier League since its inauguration in 1992.

Swansea went from strength to strength during 2011-12, as the Welsh side confounded the experts who gave them no chance. Their stunning football earned them plaudits from all corners, and finished 11th, well clear of the Premier League relegation zone and capping off a wonderful season that saw them prove they had the substance to go with the style.

Rodgers left to become Liverpool manager in the summer of 2012, and took with him Joe Allen for £14m. Michael Laudrup replaced Rodgers, and it proved to be an inspired decision from Huw Jenkins to appoint the decorated Dane. Laudrup used his knowledge of the Spanish market to recruit Michu for £2m, and Swansea picked up from where they left off. They finished in a highly impressive eighth in the league, but it was to be in the League Cup where the real success story of 2012/13 would be.

After defeating Chelsea in the semi-finals, they entertained serial giant killers Bradford City, who had already put out Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa on the way to the final. Swansea dominated from the start and went ahead through Nathan Dyer, with Michu adding a second before half time. Dyer struck again, before Bantams goalkeeper Matt Duke was sent off and gave away a penalty, which was converted by Jonathan De Guzman, who scored again to round off the rout. This was Swansea’s first ever piece of major silverware, and with it they were going to the Europa League, also a new thing for the club.

Swansea have built on the success, with a lot summer recruits as they look to cope with the extra demands of being in Europe. They look to be coping well, as a solid start in the league after a tough start to the season coupled with a fantastic 3-0 away victory in the Mestalla over Valencia in the group stages, and Swansea look to be a club on the up. Season after season of progress has left Swansea fans pinching themselves, and they are now a mainstay in the Barclays Premier League. Ten years ago, who could have predicted that this would be where Swansea are now. All that’s left to be said is, hats off to Huw, Mr Jenkins.

Originally published at voomfootball.wordpress.com

Post written by Jack Prentice for Voom Football
Blog: Voom Football, Twitter: @Voomfootball

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