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Vital Swansea Season Review 08/09 Part 1

It's not since the Golden Era of the John Toshack days in the early 1980's that Swansea City played in the second tier of the English Football League, but thanks to Roberto Martinez's raw managerial talent he's delivered that after a long 24-year wait.

The former player is now a legend in many fans' eyes and it's not hard to see why. He was a true professional and a class performer on the pitch before returning to the club as manager in 2007. In his very first season in management, he won us the League One title and after another successful year in a higher division, the Spaniard now sets his eyes on the Premiership.

It's a massive contrast to what Roberto experienced on the pitch at Swansea City. He was signed by Brian Flynn in 2003 when the Swans were in dire straights. 6 points adrift of safety, Martinez, along with the likes of Thomas and Britton inspired a special late comeback to rescue us from to the dreaded drop to Non League.

Since then the only way was up and two seasons later, Kenny Jackett won us promotion to League One and narrowly missed out on a second successive promotion via the play-offs. The following year he was never able to continue our form and successes and we then looked for a replacement in early 2007.

Some people were surprised to see Huw Jenkins appoint Martinez, a player plying his trade at League Two side Chester at the time, totally lacking any experience in management, but it proved to be one of the club's most important and best decisions ever in 25 years.

You may think I'm waffling here and bringing up the past when really I'm reviewing the season that's just past, but I feel it was important to outline the outstanding job Martinez has done here in such little time.

As well as little time, Martinez also delivered success with little money. The likes of Jason Scotland, Ferrie Bodde and Angel Rangel were bought for small 5-figure fees in 2007 and again Roberto built a quality Championship side with little funds.

With little money spent on transfer fees, money wasn't put in reserve for higher wages highe. The club had a strict wage structure in place which wasn't to be broken, and a number of new players signed on performance-related deals.

 
JULY 2008 - New Signings

Roberto Martinez looked to strengthen his squad before the start of pre-season and one of the main talking points of the Summer were the arrivals of Spanish duo Gorka Pintado and Jordi Gomez. Other arrivals included Albert Serran, Fede Bessone, Mark Gower,

We were also boosted with the news that Ferrie Bodde was staying, as after much on-going talks and bids, he rejected a move to Derby.

Vital Swansea readers weren't completely happy with Martinez's for the new season.

Pre-Season Site Polls:

Where will we finish next season in the Championship?
Mid-table (49%) Play-offs (25%) Relegation battle (9%) Automatic-promotion (8%) Bottom-half (8%) hard to say (1%)

How will we fare at Charlton next Saturday
Win (52%) Draw (28%) Lose (20%)

Money Spent: £780,000 approx. Money Received: £100,000 (Darryl Duffy)

 
AUGUST 2008 - Not a Bad Start!

Despite the new signings, Roberto Martinez kept faith in the team that won the League One title the previous year, and named a similar line-up for our opening game away at Charlton Athletic. Mark Gower was the only new signing to start, while top scorer Jason Scotland was on the bench.

Charlton vs Swansea Match Poll:

How will we fare at Charlton next Saturday?
Win (52%) Draw (28%) Lose (20%)

We were given a harsh lesson on our first day of Championship football as the hosts won 2-0.

Within just 3 minutes, Charlton were ahead as Hudson nodded home from a corner, Gray doubled the lead with 5 minutes remaining. It was also a game to forget for Garry Monk, who was sent off for a second booking during the second half.

Despite the defeat early on, it proved to be a useful learning curve for the squad and we went unbeaten for the rest of the month.

The Swans' fans were confident we'd bounce back, we did.

Site Poll:

Swans lost 2-0 at Charlton, will we bounce back?
Yes of course (84%) No, its a struggle from here (11%) I'm not sure (5%)

We were back to winning ways with a 2-0 win against Brentford in the Carling Cup before returning to league action at home to fellow newcomers Nottingham Forest.

16,000 were at the Liberty Stadium for the first home match of the season, and Martinez's side didn't dissapoint with a comfortable 3-1 win. The fans had a first glimpse of Gorka Pintado's quality up front, he came on half way through the second to round off the 3-1 with a stunning goal.


Pratley and Bodde celebrate vs Forest after going 2-1 in front

Site Poll:

How will we do at Plymouth next Saturday?
Win (75%) Draw (16%) Lose (9%)

The following week the Swans were already playing in front of the Sky cameras with an away game at Plymouth. Scotland scored his first goal of the season to give us a 1-0 win.

The wins kept coming and it was 4 in a row 3 days later in the Carling Cup as Premiership side Hull City were knocked out! Dean Windass' early opener for the visitors was cancelled out by Pintado - his second of the season, before Gomez won us the game in extra time from the penalty spot.


The players congratulate Pintado after equalising against Hull City

After ending the month with a 1-1 draw at home against Sheffield Wednesday, a game we really deserved to win, we were already asking the fans if they thought we could finish in the play-offs this season.


Crowd trouble in the away end during the Sheffield Wednesday game

Ferrie Bodde celebrates his opening goal against Sheffield Wednesday  

Site Poll:

Can we push for a play-off place this season?
Yes (67%) Not sure, lets wait and see (25%) No (8%)

August Summary:

Fixtures:

Charlton (a) - Lost 2-0
Brentford (h) Carling Cup - Won 2-0
Nottingham Forest (h) - Won 2-0
Plymouth (a) - Won 1-0
Hull City (h) - Carling Cup Round 2 - Won 2-1 (aet)
Sheffield Wednesday (h) Drew 1-1.

Despite a disappointing opening day defeat, the Swans re-grouped, learnt a valuable lesson and enjoyed the rest of August by going unbeaten. With 2 League Wins and a cup win against a Premiership side it was a fantastic start to the season.

Best Match - Swansea 3 Nottingham Forest 1

Best Goal - Gorka Pintado vs Nottingham Forest.

Player of the Month - Ferrie Bodde

Month performance rating - 9/10 - A poor start at Charlton but we remained unbeaten for the rest of August, and were 7th in the table.

Table at the end of the month

P GPPt
6.Reading47
7.Swansea City47
8.Watford47




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The Journalist

Writer: KevinE Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday May 11 2009

Time: 9:10PM

Your Comments

i think all in all you have had a pretty good season and your manager is a good young manager and maybe going onto better things.
thfccambs
I think 'pretty good' is an under-statement really, I think it's a huge success, especially with the little money we've spent and the fact it's been 24 years since we last played in this division. Martinez will be here for a few years yet and he wants to take us to the Premiership, the way he's going now I can't see him failing.
KevinE
 

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