The rise of Swansea City over the past few seasons has been little short of meteoric.
Ten years ago, with the club languishing in the depths of League Two, the prospect of a place in the Premier League seemed about as likely as Manchester City becoming genuine title contenders, but then again, miracles do happen.
Now, not only are they an established top-flight club, managed by an ex-Barcelona and Real Madrid player, they’re also competing in Europe and by and large, making a pretty good job of it.
Indeed had Swans fans been told, even at the start of this season that they would run out 3-0 winners over Valencia in Spain, the reaction would probably have been mirthful.
Yet that is what happened, and with the club sitting 10th in the Premier League and 2nd in their European Qualifying group, the future for the Liberty Stadium side looks bright indeed.
On paper then, something seems to have gone slightly awry, after all, this is a team containing Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and a host of other little known names. A side that gives true credence to the notion that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. A club using Jonjo Shelvey as its engine room.
Purchased for £5m from Liverpool in the summer, the youngster has settled well in South Wales, and despite not taking the fancy of former Swans boss Brendan Rodgers, his performances this term have been a key ingredient to Swansea’s success. He doesn’t dive in, has a penchant for long balls and is beginning to show he has the ability to change a game, a facet that few would have credited him with during his time on Merseyside.
Shelvey’s ability and determination, were on full display against his old club on the 16th of September this year. Having opened the scoring, a loss of concentration saw him gift the ball to the in-form Daniel Sturridge, who made no mistake in slotting the ball home to make it 1-1. Things looked bleaker still when he was at fault for the Reds second goal as well, but rather than fade away, he instead persevered, assisting Michu for a Swansea equalizer.
Since then, his stock has only risen. With his latest exploits against Fulham, stepping off the bench to fire the winning goal into the top corner, further highlighting his development under new boss Michael Laudrup.
Now, whenever he is on the pitch, there does seem to be a real chance of something happening, a counter-intuitive feat for a player who skills are if anything understated. But, like his team-mates, he fits into the Swansea jigsaw perfectly, regularly coming short and providing an outlet for his defence, whilst often triggering attacks as well.
This is where the magic of the Swans philosophy truly becomes apparent.
Despite not having the personnel, at least in theory, to merit their position in the table, in getting 110% out of their players all of whom know their system inside out, they stand united and become a side capable of causing their opposition serious problems.
This ‘system’ seems to comprise getting the basics right all the time, a feat that Shelvey himself is fairly close to accomplishing. This season, his pass completion rate stands at 84.7%, more than Jack Wilshere, and just behind the likes of Michael Carrick and Steven Gerrard.
And so it would appear that his new environment is truly getting the best out of a player than many deemed surplus to Premier League requirements. Now though, among the right players and the right system, perhaps he will be able to show his true worth.
Next stop England? We shall have to wait and see.