After 14 games Garry Monk is under increasing pressure. Swansea have won once in nine matches since August and sit only four points ahead of relegation-zoned Bournemouth and Newcastle United.
Right after the transfer window ended, the Swans were sitting unbeaten in Champions League spot with eight points from four games. In the following nine matches, they’ve managed to halve their points-per-game score from two to one, winning 14 points in as many matches. With Swansea positioned 15th in the Premier League table, the main question is: Has Garry Monk actually been unsuccessful at the Liberty Stadium since he became interim-manager in February 2014?
Looking solely on the current season, Swansea have been doing things badly, at times appallingly. Winning against Manchester United was the last good thing happened to them, as the win at Villa Park was expected due to Aston Villa’s horrific season. Losses to Stoke and Norwich were not so disappointing… they were disturbing. Swansea didn’t have the bite, their lack of character was obvious and it was easy to point out the things aren’t going the way they should. Norwich didn’t manage a single clean sheet in the first 11 matches of the season, until they hosted Swansea at Carrow Road, while the loss to the Potters came when Monk’s players had to build on an encouraging 2-2 draw against Tottenham.
During the horrible run since August – in which Swansea have one win in nine matches – Monk’s players have seemed lacklustre in five of them. They recorded only one clean sheet in that period, with six matches in which they didn’t score at all. The matches against Everton and an improving Spurs side were decent, yet the displays against Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford – the newly-promoted teams – left Swansea fans with a bitter and daunting feeling. Comparing to the last season, the difference is apparent.
Swansea had a great 2014/15, winning 56 points and finishing in eighth position, both of which were club records. Led by Monk in his first full season in management, Swansea won 16 matches out of 38 – a staggering 42.1% – while so far this season that percentage has almost halved (21.43%). If the Swans were on the percentage they had in 2014/15, six wins would replace the three they actually have and Monk’s side would be sitting in mid-table. But, one of the big reasons might lay in Wilfried Bony’s departure from Liberty in January.
Monk decided to put faith in Bafetimbi Gomis and not enter the transfer market for another striker, and the Swans have deteriorated ever since. Since Monk became the manager during 2013-14 season, Swansea have been scoring 1.29 goals per match. Yet, since Bony was sold to Manchester City, the Wales-based club have netted 1.1 goal per match while conceding 1.39 in the same period (compared to the 2014-15 average of 1.29 conceded goals per match).
Monk’s decision to lean on Gomis after Bony’s departure was hailed as a bold move. Yet, since the Ivorian striker left the club, Swansea have played 31 Premier League matches, with Gomis contributing 11 goals – none of which have come in the last nine games. Monk’s decision to wait for the summer seemed as a good option, though the arrival of Eder from Braga doesn’t seem a smart purchase, with the Portuguese being unable to step up. It is easy to point out at Monk now, however, it was obvious from the beginning Eder was brought as a back-up for the Frenchman, not as a possibly better option up front.
Among the good things Monk has done around the club, it would be impossible not to point at Andre Ayew. Signing of the Ghanaian winger on a free transfer was by far the best summer acquisition, with him having scored six goals so far. He is the player around whom Monk should build the team should he stay the Swansea manager through the January transfer window. Swansea did show indications of a good team during August, but now it’s up to Monk to find the solution to the problem.
Monk has been a great manager for Swansea until recently, and he will be again if he manages to pull his team up before it’s too late. Swansea have a very talented manager sitting on the bench, so now it’s all up to the club’s board to choose from two options – 1) give Monk time even if the team ends up fighting for survival in the Premier League, with the stability at the club as the main gain in the long-term – and 2) search for the new manager if they are desperate to end the season in the comfortable mid-table position and risk choosing the wrong replacement. For a club of Swansea’s size, the first option doesn’t sound so bad, after all.
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