On their last match day of a tumultuous year, Swansea City were the final team to slot into relegation from the 2017/18 Premier League season.
The season started in an inconsistent manner for the Swans, drawing Tottenham and Southampton, beating Palace, Newcastle, and Huddersfield, and losing to Manchester United, West Ham, Watford, and Leicester City. There were points to be had but the sense was that the Welsh team were not taking the opportunities they were presented. Although, this was something many predicted with their off season moves.
The pulse of the Swansea team from years passed had left. Everton paid a kings ransom for Gylfi Sigurdsson, the immensely talented midfield maestro, while Tottenham picked up Sigurdsson’s targetman striker Fernando Llorente. Those moves brought in over £55 million to the club, but despite the money made they couldn’t recoup the loss of their offensive spark plugs.
What they did do was bring in a few players who could play important roles in what would be a challenging season. Tammy Abraham was re-loaned from Chelsea as a Llorente like player. Strong and towering, Abraham who had spent time with the Swans in the previous season was one of two players brought in to be a physical presence at striker.
The other was Wilfred Bony. Bought from Manchester City in the summer transfer window, Bony was a flop. In fifteen games started he scored only twice and failed to register an assist.
A good piece of business for Swansea was Sam Clucas brought in from previously relegated Hull City. While he only scored three goals and one assist, Clucas ran the left side of their midfield and was a positive factor for his team this season.
After sacking manager Paul Clement in December, less than a year after his appointment, Portuguese manager Carlos Carvalhal took over. The team picked up 20 points in their last 18 games, which for a short term is not bad, and the form the team was in should kept them safe. However zero wins in their last five games, including an ever so important final game against already relegated Stoke City, damned the Swans to the Championship.
The new man on the job identified the issue for his team pretty easily – they needed more fire power, and quickly. In a move that looks a little silly now, Swansea made what was then, a wise business transaction. They bought attacking midfielder Andre Ayew off of West Ham United for £18 million. Sure it was a steep price, but that is what you get in January transfers.
Realistically they brought in a former goalscorer for the club, brother of starting striker Jordan Ayew, and a man out of favor and demanding a move away from his current club. Unfortunately the grinding halt to production makes Ayew look like a waste of money, but stripping an attacking option off of a fellow relegation rival is good business in my eyes.
Now relegated the Swans will have some restructuring to do. They have some money to make a sizable war chest for Carvalhal or whoever is the Swansea manager next season from previous player sales. With the cash in hand Swansea will likely be able to replace the list of players leaving. The likes of keeper Lukasz Fabianski and defender Alfie Mawson will likely leave, but will retrieve even more money to help rebuild.
In the end, the real issue with Swansea that let to relegation was letting an under performing manager stay on too long. With all three relegation slots settled now, I believe the Swans will have the easiest road back to Premier League life. Until then, newly promoted Cardiff City will represent Wales in the top flight of English Football.