Swansea’s Leon Britton: “It’s been unbelievable. We nearly dropped out of the Football League & now we’re in the Premier League & in Europe”
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 24, 2013
A few weeks ago, the Counter Attack Podcast panel discussed the pointlessness of football when the title winner was invariably determined many months in advance of the final round of fixtures. The subtext was that the only trophy truly worth winning in football was the domestic title, with the Champions League coming a close second.
Of course many financial experts have sold the world on the idea that the special glory of a title win is now exclusively reserved for clubs able to spend the requisite money to compete for it. This small group has ossified somewhat with the advent of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play provisions. Of course in this view other competitions and achievements are secondary.
And so we come to Swansea City. In July 2001, twelve years ago, Mike Lewis purchased the debt-ridden club for a pound. In 2002, the club was saved from relegation from the football league with a win against Exeter (a club that same Mike Lewis, who’d since sold Swansea on, was on the board as vice-chairman).
This year, the club’s centenary, saw them win the League Cup by the highest margin in its history. It is their first major cup win. They will also play in Europe next year.
This has not, low and behold, come on the back of heavy financial investment from a deep-pocketed suitor with big league ambitions. Last season, a transfer price index Premier League table sheet which ranked probable finish based on transfer market spending had Swansea finishing dead last. Instead, Swansea ended up in 11th.
Nor was it a statistical fluke or the result of Brendan Rodgers’ leadership, particularly as this season Swansea are ranked 10th in TSR and 6th in PDO off the back of an impressively lucky save percentage.
No, the hegemony is not under threat. But surely this is achievement as glorious if not more so than United’s limply won 20th Premier League title. And if Swansea can do it, perhaps any club could. Sometimes football, like life, will not be contained, it breaks free, and crashes through barriers. Football finds a way.
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Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.