Managers do not have it easy in the Premier League. The fine line between tactical genius and clueless donkey is traversed by several on an almost weekly basis. There are always persistent mutterings and rumours in the press that a certain manager is on the verge of the sack if results do not improve. Criticism and job uncertainty are part of the package of leading a Premier League side.
With the wheel of managerial pressure revolving at its typically rapid rate, Swansea City’s Garry Monk has become the latest man to have his future scrutinised over the last few weeks. Reports that chairman Huw Jenkins was preparing to bring in an experienced coach and that Monk had failed to turn up to training were proved to be rubbish, so why do the rumours persist over Swansea’s young manager?
Admittedly, the Swans have been short of good form in recent weeks. An unbeaten August has been followed by a disappointing run where Swansea have only managed to pick up one win and just six points in nine Premier League games. Defeats to Watford, Southampton, Stoke, Arsenal and Norwich have really put the pressure on Monk.
As bad as this run of results has been, the idea that Monk should be under pressure is frankly ludicrous. Swansea still sit in 14th position in this season’s Premier League, 5 points clear of Bournemouth in 18th place, giving them a decent gap to the relegation zone. Furthermore, the Swans still hold a respectable goal difference of -4, with their only heavy defeat coming in the 3-0 loss to Arsenal, where poor refereeing decisions and misfortune counted against the Welsh side. The flow of wins may have been tempered, but Monk’s side are far from being outclassed.
Compared to last season, Swansea’s results have actually been fairly consistent with their 2014/15 performance. Much like this campaign, Monk’s team tailed off after August, where they won their opening three fixtures, to go on a run of just two wins through September, October and November. Sound familiar? The nature of last season’s league table meant that Swansea had a slightly more comfortable league position at this stage last season, but results wise, there is not a great deal of difference. If Monk was given time to turn around results in Autumn 2014, why would he not be afforded the same courtesy with a further year of experience under his belt.
So Swansea are not currently in any danger of getting relegated, and they are performing at roughly the same level as the previous season, so the worst criticism you could really aim at Monk is that Swansea have stagnated under him over the last year. However, when considering the funds available to the 36-year-old, Monk has done remarkably well at keeping Swansea at the same level.
The bulk of Monk’s signings at the Liberty Stadium have been remarkably shrewd and value for money. Gylfi Sigudsson, Jefferson Montero, Kyle Naughton and Jack Cork were all brought in last season for relatively low fees. He was hardly given cash to splash this summer either, with the £5 million Eder representing his greatest outlay.
Furthermore, he also managed to pick up Lukasz Fabianski, Bafetimbi Gomis and Andre Ayew, three of his most important players at the start of the season, on free transfers. Monk has proved he is excellent in the transfer market and even managed to make everyone forget about the sales of Michel Vorm, Ben Davies and Wilfried Bony last season. Quite an achievement.
The speculation surrounding the security of Garry Monk’s job just goes to show how much the ex-defender and his club have become victims of their own success. Appointing Monk represented a massive gamble when he took over Michael Laudrup’s side in February 2014 that was sliding towards the relegation zone. Monk kept them up with ease before leading them to 8th place in his first full season.
Swansea City only narrowly avoided relegation out of the football league a mere twelve years ago, and 2015/16 is only their fifth season in the Premier League. In that time they have won the League Cup, played in Europe, they have beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. They have not only established themselves as a mid-table side but have finished just six points off the Premier League’s top 6. Both club and manager have come such a long way in such a short space of time, that it is often forgotten that Swansea have exceeded expectations just to get where they are now.
A poor run of form should not derail what is has been a highly successful association between Swansea City and Garry Monk. Yes, the Swans have struggled in recent weeks, but this is nothing new for Monk, who has turned around slumps like this before in his short managerial career, and has a strong squad of players who are fully behind him. Their form will improve and come the end of the season they should be sitting in the lower reaches of the top half of the table; Monk should be the man to lead them there.
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