Though Gary Monk would have his say about being poor for a one-off season, it is barely deniable that Swansea have had a disastrous campaign thus far. For a team that exceeded their board’s expectations and finished eighth last season, just fourteen points off top four, cultivating merely nineteen points from the first twenty-one games this season has been a different story altogether.
Swansea has only managed to net nineteen goals this season in the league, with their leading strikers in Bafetimbi Gomis and Andre Ayew scoring five and seven goals respectively. Their dismal start to the season has, however not been only due to virtually flop outings up front from their key stars, but their defense has looked breachable too.
Their best defenders, most notably Neil Taylor and Ashley Williams have looked increasingly faulty at the back, often losing challenges and finding it miserably hard to cope with counter-attacking moves, something which they cushily negotiated with during the last season under Monk.
In the midfield, nobody except Gylfi Sigurdsson looked in form and flair. Very much like Willian for Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, Sigurdsson has been the only spark in the center of the park for the Swans.
Though many felt last season was a one-year miracle for the Welsh outfit, not many expected this drastic fall from grace. Gary Monk’s inexperience at the top level was deemed as the reason for the disastrous season by the British media, where they failed to gain any momentum whatsoever.
Guidolin has a reputation of turning mid-table clubs into table toppers
Four wins from sixty percent of the matches and a relegation ravaged position was always acting against his continuance as a boss, which eventually resulted in his sacking in December last year. However, now the move to put Francesco Guidolin in charge for the remainder of the season, can definitely be deemed as a wise move.
Though many would believe Swansea finally got an experienced manager at the helm, but it is more than that which attracts Guidolin to the mid-table clubs. His managerial career started way back in 1986, and thus experience and exposure-wise he is unmatchable. Though many would remain skeptical about his chances of truly reviving the Swans. The reason being, he has previously managed clubs only in Italy and France, but never in England.
However, his Midas touch to turn flop, mid-table finishers into table toppers is something worth noting twice. Not to forget, he faced tough competition from Brendan Rodgers, David Moyes and ex-Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo, but the Swans made it clear that they want someone who can provide an immediate impact to their team.
Guidolin’s recent spells with Palermo, Parma and Udinese made him a crowd-puller. In 2006, he was hired by Palermo, after being sacked by AS Monaco, and helped the team to an impressive start to the season, which saw them stay third throughout the first half of the season. Despite injuries and poor run of form, they eventually finished fifth, their best ever position (as of 2009).
Such was his popularity at that time, that even Queens Park Ranger tried to strike a deal with him, which unfortunately collapsed. In 2008, he became the head coach of Parma and guided them to promotion after finishing second in Serie B, which was followed by a mid-table finish next season.
Under him, Udinese earned a UEFA Champions league spot, both in 2010 and 2011. Such achievements were astonishingly brilliant at the time, as Inter Milan and AC Milan were dominating the Italian top flight then and teams like Napoli and Juventus were trying to catch up with the San Siro giants. Though, they never made it to the group stages of the Champions League. However, a similar run of league form would surely take the Welsh team back in, at least, top ten.
Guidolin has taken the responsibility of the head coach, with Alan Curtis appointed as his assistant for the rest of the season. For the Italian tactician, his primary objective would be to install belief and motivation in the squad, which is gravely lacking and take them out of the relegation hole, before setting higher objectives. Although the board has made a good move but had it come earlier, the Swans would have had better chances of improving on their position in the league.
Swansea overpowered Watford as Guidolin watched from the stands
Swansea defeated Watford 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium, courtesy of a goal from Williams as the Italian watched from the stands. A strong show in defense from the Welsh club saw them keep the attacking flair of Watford at bay. The Swans, who are currently seventeenth in the table, nearly found a second from Gomis, who unfortunately hit the crossbar.
Nevertheless, the Swans are in the right track and it would be a matter of time, before they hit their prime, like last season.Published 19 Jan 2016, 22:49 IST