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Whoscored: Pleasant early Prem surprises

Southampton Sep 26, 2014
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Apr 28, 2014

Swans still facing many questions despite reaching safety


In what was effectively the last game of their season, Swansea secured safety with a 4-1 win over Aston Villa. Wilfried Bony bagged a second consecutive brace to intensify rumours of his departure for bigger (if not necessarily greener) pastures over the summer while Jonjo Shelvey's goal-of-the-season contender has sparked reports that Newcastle manager Alan Pardew wants the midfielder on Tyneside. - Report: Swansea 4-1 Aston Villa Why Shelvey would want to go to a side with no real expectation to do any better than Swansea next season is another matter. More money? Perhaps, but after three years of uncertainty and frustration at Liverpool, Shelvey has found a home, appreciation and regular football. The sweetener for Shelvey to tear everything up and start again would have to be significant, and there's no guarantee Pardew will even be on Tyneside himself this summer. Swansea have managerial considerations of their own to think about in the meantime. It would be easy for Swansea fans to confuse the relief of avoiding relegation with belief in Garry Monk's viability as manager. The former player has done well enough in helping Swansea avoid the drop, but could have made his side safe before now. Wins against Villa, Newcastle and Norwich suggest Monk is ready for the job; two points in total from games against Stoke, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Hull suggests otherwise. Monk's points per game total in 12 league games as Swans boss is 1.25 -- a shade lower than the 1.37 league average. The Swans' goals per game over that period amounts to 1.83 scored, 1.42 conceded, for a goal difference of plus-0.41 per game. That's better than the league average of 1.43 scored, 1.43 conceded, zero goal difference. Numbers are only the result of the game; players play the game, and it is the Swans players that Monk needs to convince most. Beyond the numbers, Monk at least has the backing of Ashley Williams, the man who took over club captaincy from his defensive partner of old. That's probably to be expected, but how do the rest of the team feel? Alejandro Pozuelo and Jose Canas have become notable absentees from Monk's match-day squads of late. Even Nathan Dyer, a Swans stalwart of recent years, has struggled to crack the starting XI, barely making the bench. Others have apparently responded well to Monk's leadership; Wayne Routledge has been excellent lately, Bony can't stop scoring while regulars like Williams, Angel Rangel, Ben Davies and Leon Britton continue to put in consistent performances. Swans chairman Huw Jenkins would probably like to have Monk in situ as his manager; he could be rest assured that Monk would never rock the Swans' financially watertight boat with arguments over transfer targets or available funds. However, with limited experience at the helm, Monk and Swansea would have precious little margin for error while Monk learns the job next season. It is a cliche that every year other teams will get better, but like the other teams, Swansea will need to improve in order to stay competitive. Being relieved of the distraction of the Europa League next season will not be enough on its own to suddenly make Swansea the strong mid-table side they proved to be in each of their first two Premier League seasons. It will help, but the side still needs to grow. The futures of Pozuelo and Canas already hang in the balance. It is the same for on-loan Jonathan de Guzman and loaned-out Ki Sung-Yeung, while newcomers Marvin Emnes and David N'Gog, signed only until the end of the season, have just two more games to earn new contracts. There are still echoes and ghosts of former manager Michael Laudrup's reign in this Swansea squad. The Dane transformed the squad he inherited from Brendan Rodgers, and a similar transition from the Laudrup era to the Monk era -- if Monk is awarded the job -- needs to happen conclusively and decisively this summer in order for the side to start the new season on the right foot. Even Williams, Monk's strongest advocate, is not certain to stay. The defender has one year left on his contract, which makes this summer the Swans' last window if they want to cash in. There are few reasons Swansea would want to sell their captain, but Williams himself could not be blamed if he wanted to go to a bigger club to get the fat salary he probably deserves. It'll probably be the last big money contract he'll sign in his career. If Williams leaves, does Monk still have as much locker room support? If Pozuelo and Canas leave because they don't fit in with Monk's plans, only for a different manager to eventually be appointed, then are Swansea risking letting good players leave for no reason? The relegation question has been answered, but there are plenty of others waiting for the summer. And in a World Cup year, too.