I personally underestimated how well Swansea would cope post-Rodgers. In spite of the losses of Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair, Laudrup managed to strengthen their squad – particularly with the additions of Michu and Chico plus the more expensive but perhaps less effective Hernandez and Ki.
Their season began brightly, a top half finish was rarely in doubt, but their defining moment was the League Cup win against Bradford following superb victories along the way against Liverpool and Chelsea. And so the players can be forgiven for taking their eye off the ball through the final 11 games as their performance levels petered out.
Of course, Miguel Pérez Cuesta (that’s Michu to you and I), provided a central goalscoring force that was lacking from Rodgers’ team of the year before, he scored an impressive 18 goals in the league.
Although the dotted lines above represent the optimistic target of 4th place, a more realistic objective for Swansea should be to aim for 6-8th next season considering the drain on resources that the Europa League will bring. Laudrup has insisted that Swansea need more attacking options to complement Michu in terms of goals, which may well be true, but the chart above suggests that goals conceded should be more of a concern. A few blips at home to Norwich, Everton and Fulham in which they conceded 3 or more are a case in point, also highlighted by the chart below:
The above chart paints an interesting picture, as Swansea were outscored on average by teams in the top 15, despite gaining enough points to finish in the top half. Their dominance against the bottom 5 made the difference as they showed no mercy against the relegated teams, taking 14pts from QPR, Reading and Wigan.
Swansea’s team was the shortest in the league in terms of average height, weighted by playing time, although they still managed to have close to the league average in terms of the number of players in the line-up over 1.82m.
In some cases teams just haven’t seemed to know their best 11 and in others the variation can be down to rotation or injuries, but in these areas Swansea had relatively few problems. Rangel, Michu, Williams, Davies and De Guzman all played over 2800mins, and after them Britton and Routledge were favoured slightly more in terms of time played in a changeable midfield that included Dyer, Hernandez and Ki. José Manuel Flores Moreno (that’s Chico!) and Vorm both played more than 2200mins – perhaps Laudrup would have preferred to field them slightly more often – leaving the most notable absentee Neil Taylor, who was replaced by Ben Davies at left-back. And I don’t think it is wrong to suggest that Davies performed well beyond expectations in his first senior season.
The performance levels of the top 12 or so players were great, and Tiendalli and Tremmell were excellent replacements when needed. But beyond them the squad depth was not seriously tested – so no doubt quality additions are needed to cope with European competition.
- 2nd worst aerial duel win ratio (42.4%)
- More passes in own half than any other team (9611 attempted)
- Only Man City and Arsenal completed more passes
- Dispossessed fewer times than any other team (358)
- Lowest total losses of possession (5549)
Chico actually won more TPOEM overall man of the match awards than any other Swansea player with 3 (plus another 3 team man of the match awards). He also had the 2nd best goals against contribution for all defenders in the league (behind Vertonghen) – the stats suggest he was quite brilliant. Williams did very well too, and played over 1000mins more which suggests his score may be more stable.
And Michu. I don’t really need to say much any more but he was very good too.
In the midfield, Ki’s performance levels seemed to have the edge on Britton. Likewise Hernandez just about takes the plaudits over Dyer and Routledge (on account of a slightly better defensive contribution). And De Guzman was the second most influential player behind Michu.
This all suggests that Laudrup can certainly be entrusted with further cash to spend as he barely put a foot wrong as far I can tell last summer.