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As a Reading fan that was at Monday’s match at Wembley, I’d like nothing more than to have slide 4 dedicated to my team. Nevertheless credit has to go to Swansea, who have no doubt been the better of the teams chasing QPR and Norwich this season.
Swansea is often thought of as the smaller team in South Wales considering Cardiff’s 2008 FA Cup run to the final and their presence in last year’s play-off final, and were almost relegated to the Conference just eight years ago. But a remarkable few years that have included moving to the Liberty Stadium has seen the club rise to Championship play-off winners and the Premier League.
Manager Brendan Rodgers, who previously managed Reading and was a youth-team coach at Chelsea, was brought in to manage the Swans at the start of the season and immediately implemented the free-flowing passing football that failed at Reading but was successful at Swansea.
It has been especially successful for Swansea when playing at home, giving them the best home record in the division. This style of football has led to some of the more idealistic Swansea fans labelling their team ‘Swanselona’.
Swansea have been credited for their impressive attacking play including the contribution of wingers Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer, two of the best wingers outside of the Premier League, who have supported striker Scott Dobbie.
These three have been supported from the midfield by the likes of Darren Pratley and Mark Gower, who have been the spine of the team and given the Welsh team one of the most dangerous attacking forces in the Championship.
Although it wasn’t often apparent on Monday, Swansea’s success over the course of the season is also down to a strong defence and the experience of Alan Tate and Garry Monk, who have both been at Swansea during their rise from League Two to Premier League.
It was the leadership of these two in particular that made sure that a team known for their effectiveness when in possession were still disciplined at the back. Consequently, only QPR had a better defensive record.
While 2011-12 may be the first season in which a Welsh team has played in the Premier League, if they can continue their current momentum into the top-flight, it certainly won’t be the last.