Swansea City’s 2017 Review: Pause, rewind, play

Reviewing Swansea City’s 2017.

Swansea City’s 2017 Review: Pause, rewind, play
Gylfi Sigurdsson taking aim at his former side. (Photo: Tony McArdle - Everton FC/Getty)

Swansea City’s 2017 has been filled with ups and downs, broken promises and (another) sacked manager in Paul Clement.

The Welsh club were able to rescue themselves from the pits of relegation in the 2016/17 season and fans expected the club to do everything in their power to avoid putting themselves in the same position next year.

However it is New Year’s Eve and Swansea sit 19th the table, two points adrift of Crystal Palace in 17th, and Carlos Carvalhal has inherited a side that desperately lacks quality.

Results

The first half of 2017 was a positive one for Swansea, with Clement in charge after the club eventually replaced Bob Bradley, the former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich assistant was able to bring some defensive stability to the team.

Through Federico Fernandez and Alfie Mawson, Clement was able to steady the ship and went from conceding several goals a game under Bradley to keeping opponents at bay.

Clement was then able to rely on Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente to conjure up some magic at the other end of the field in order to nick enough points to stay clear of relegation.

However, those two players were shipped off to Everton and Tottenham Hotspur in the summer. Sigurdsson particularly wasn’t replaced and the quality of the squad considerably dropped.

Four months later and Swansea have been by far the worst team in the 2017/18 season, scoring just 13 goals and picking up 16 points from 21 games, shattering records for their poor offensive output in the process.

Clement was sacked, and Carvalhal has been given the unenviable task of getting more than the sum of its parts out of this Swansea squad.

Best player

Sigurdsson has been Swansea’s best player in 2017.

Despite the fact that he has only been a Swansea player for half of the calendar year, his contribution in that time hasn’t been matched by any other player.

He almost single-handedly kept the Swans in the league last season, was involved in the vast majority of their goals and ultimately proved himself to be a £40 million asset.

The gap he has left is the reason why Swansea are in the relegation zone, and while others have impressed (looking at you, Mawson) Sigurdsson has to take this award.

 

Most disappointing player

Sorry everyone, it isn’t Renato Sanches.

The Portuguese midfielder came with high expectations, but he joined as a 20-year-old on loan to a league that he has never played in before.

Sam Clucas, however, signing as Swansea’s record transfer in the summer has also barely been able to crack the first team.

Signing for a reported £16.5 million in August, he has played just 862 out of a possible 1890 Premier League minutes this season.

The 27-year-old's biggest contribution so far was the goal he scored away to Arsenal in the 2-1 loss at the Emirates Stadium, and has been kept out of the team by Tom Carroll for the majority of the season.

Clucas’ numbers are down from last season in tackles, interceptions, clearances, shots, key passes and dribbles. (All per game stats, via Whoscored)

Swansea have generally played with at least three central midfielders this season, so for Clucas to not be able to get consistent gametime is extremely disappointing given his high pricetag in the summer.

Best moment of the year

Possibly an odd selection, since it’s a game that Swansea didn’t feature in, but Crystal Palace’s 4-0 victory over Hull City has to be Swansea’s moment of the year, as it was the game that confirmed the club would retain their place in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season.

A day earlier saw Swansea win 2-0 against already relegated Sunderland thanks to goals from Llorente and Kyle Naughton, which meant that if Hull were to lose then Swansea would avoid the drop.

Hull not only failed to beat Palace, but were dismantled in a way that surely will have disappointed then-manager Marco Silva. Swansea fans however rejoiced and were able to sit back and enjoy the latter stages of the game, knowing their team were safe for another year.

The Swansea players also joined in on the celebrations, the whole squad gathered at one of the players’ house where Snapchats and Twiter videos were posted from.

Worst moment of the year

INT: Sky Sports News. Transfer deadline day.

The clock ticks over, the deadline has passed and the realisation sets in that Swansea have not signed a creative midfielder.

Sigurdsson, the £40 million, all for nothing.

Nacer Chadli isn’t coming, Jonathan Vieira isn’t boarding a flight to Swansea. Another disappointing season is upon us.

 

What to expect in 2018

Well if the win over Watford tells us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Carvalhal’s appointment looks like a step forward, a nod back to The Swansea Way, and there’s a transfer window round the corner where the club can fix a lot of its problems.

Huw Jenkins has admitted he may resign, much to the delight of a large portion of fans as mistakes and poor decisions at board level have been continuously made under the chairman of 15 years in recent times.

So there’s cause for optimism, but definitely cautious optimism.