2012-2013: Season Review
21st May 2013
Following the success of our debut season in the Barclays Premier League, there was perhaps a sense of inevitability around the club last summer.
The Swans had drawn a number of plaudits for their eye-catching brand of football, and the 2012 Olympics also saw a great number of Swansea City representation.
Brendan Rodgers departed for Liverpool together with Joe Allen, while Steven Caulker, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Scott Sinclair would also leave the Liberty Stadium as the club looked to rebuild ahead of a tough second season in the top-flight.
In came new boss Michael Laudrup and a number of new additions. But little did the Jack Army know what a memorable ten months it would prove to be...
The computer handed the Swans a trip to big-spending Queens Park Rangers on the opening day of the new season - a ground where they hadn't scored in five of their previous six attempts.
But all that was about to change.
As managerial debuts go, it couldn't have gone any better from Michael Laudrup as his side produced a five-star attacking display to secure a 5-0 win in west London.
New recruit Michu helped himself to two goals, while a brace from Nathan Dyer and a fine strike from Scott Sinclair - his last for the club - gave the Dane a perfect start to life in the Liberty dugout.
And it was to get even better just a week later as Swansea beat West Ham 3-0 to temporarily go top of the Premier League - just nine years after being rock bottom of the Football League.
Prior to the home game against Sunderland on September 1, the Jack Army were introduced to new signings Pablo Hernandez and Ki Sung-Yueng after the pair arrived from Valencia and Celtic in club-record deals on transfer deadline day. There was also one significant departure as Scott Sinclair joined Premier League champions Manchester City, while the Swans also said farewell to some familiar faces as Stephen Dobbie, Andrea Orlandi and Fede Bessone moved on to pastures new.
A 2-2 draw against Martin O'Neill's men followed before the Swans suffered a dip in form with three straight league defeats against Aston Villa, Everton and Stoke to end the month.
However, progress was made to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup with a 3-2 win over Crawley - a result that set up a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers.
Newly promoted Reading were the first visitors to the Liberty in October and after three straight defeats, the Swans found themselves 2-0 down at half time. But a rousing second half display saw Laudrup's men roar back for a point through goals from Michu and Wayne Routledge.
After the second international break of the season, the Swans were back at the Liberty as they took on Wigan. It was seen as a game that they couldn't afford to lose and Pablo Hernandez scored his first goal for the club to send the Liberty into raptures. Michu grabbed a second soon after and despite Wigan pulling one back, the Swans held on to secure a crucial three points.
The month ended with a narrow defeat at Manchester City, before an exciting trip to Anfield in the League Cup.
But with the Swans facing their former boss, the Jacks turned in a memorable display to record a 3-1 win an book a place in the last eight of the competition for the first time in the club's 100-year history.
A busy November began with successive draws against Chelsea and Southampton, before a memorable away win was secured at Newcastle.
Michu and Jonathan de Guzman scored the all-important goals as Swansea returned to Wales with a 2-1 win going into the visit of Liverpool.
It was Brendan Rodgers's first return to SA1 after leaving Swansea and despite a match filled with quality, it ended goalless.
The month ended with high-flying West Brom as the visitors to the Liberty and the home side produced one of the best halves of football you are likely to see as Michu and Routledge (2) gave the Swans a 3-0 lead. The Baggies pulled one back but the damage was already done and the Swans moved on to 20 points from 14 games played.
The Swans were looking to continue their fine form when they travelled to Arsenal on December 1 - and they didn't disappoint. After dominating for long periods at the Emirates, the visitors got their reward as two late goals from Michu consigned Arsenal to defeat and moved the Swans up to the dizzy heights of seventh in the Premier League.
However, it was Norwich who proved the bogey team for Swansea once more a week later as the Canaries came away from the Liberty with a 4-3 win in a lively game.
But the journey continued in the League Cup just four days later as the Swans beat Middlesbrough 1-0 to seal a place in the semi-finals where they were drawn to face Chelsea over two legs in January.
The final four games of 2012 saw the Swans lose just once - away at Tottenham - before securing a 1-1 draw against Manchester United at the Liberty and a goalless draw against Reading on Boxing Day.
But Laudrup's men close the year out with a hard fought 2-1 win at Fulham to consolidate their place in the top half of the Premier League ahead of a record-breaking few months...
A packed January began with a home clash against Aston Villa and after Wayne Routledge put the Swans in front, they spurned a number of chances to put the game to bed before Villa turned things around to lead 2-1 with six minutes to play, courtesy of Christian Benteke's penalty.
However, Danny Graham popped up with a stoppage-time equaliser to earn the hosts a point before the striker scored another late goal in an FA Cup third round tie against Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium.
Just four days later and the Swans were back in cup action as they travelled to Stamford Bridge for the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea.
It was to be a night to remember for the club as goals from Michu and Graham secured a priceless 2-0 lead heading in to the second leg in south Wales.
There was no let up in the Premier League as Swansea earned a battling point against Everton at Goodison Park, while Stoke were put to the sword a week later as Laudrup's men produced some scintillating football in a 3-1 win.
But it was all eyes on the Liberty once more as Chelsea arrived looking to peg back a two-goal deficit in the League Cup semi-final, but it was the home side who put on a mature performance to draw 0-0 and book a place in the final against League Two side Bradford.
A hectic month ended on another positive note as the Swans drew 0-0 against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, with Danny Graham later securing his move to the North East prior to the end of the January transfer window.
While January was relentless, February was historical.
It began with a narrow defeat against West Ham at Upton Park, while struggling QPR were thrashed at the Liberty Stadium a week later as the Swans moved on to 37 points and within touching distance of another season in the Premier League.
The squad departed for Dubai for a much-needed break shortly after but when they returned to home soil they suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.
But the game on everyone's lips was just around the corner - the Capital One Cup final.
Bradford had produced a wonderful footballing story to reach the Wembley showpiece, knocking out Arsenal, Wigan and Aston Villa en route to meeting the Swans.
But their journey ended there as Laudrup's side won 5-0 at the home of English football to secure their club's first major trophy in the Centenary year. You couldn't have written a better script.
There was to be another season of top-flight football and a European adventure to look forward to in 2013-14.
The Swans' first game after the heroics of the cup final was against Newcastle United at the Liberty, and Luke Moore popped up with the winner to move the club on to the magical 40-point mark.
However, the form was about to dip as three straight defeats followed against West Brom (1-2), Arsenal (0-2) and Spurs (1-2).
Despite these setbacks, there was yet more positive news coming out of the Liberty Stadium as boss Michael Laudrup signed a one-year contract extension that would keep him at the club until the summer of 2014.
The month began with a 2-2 draw against Norwich at Carrow Road as goals from Michu and Luke Moore secured a decent point for the visitors, while Wigan's participation in the FA Cup gave Laudrup's men a weekend off.
Southampton were the next visitors to the Liberty and in the glorious sunshine both sides played out a dismal goalless draw, before Chelsea got their revenge for January's League Cup defeat by winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on April 28.
So the final month of the season was upon us and it began with a tough test against Manchester City.
The corresponding fixture last season saw the Swans win 1-0 and they produced another dogged display to secure a point ahead of the rearranged trip to Wigan.
Roberto Martinez's men were fighting for Premier League survival once more and twice led at the DW Stadium, before goals from Angel Rangel, Itay Shechter and Dwight Tiendalli gave Swansea a first win in eight games and move them on to 46 points for the season - just one short of last season's haul.
And so it was to Old Trafford for the penultimate game of another memorable season.
It was quite some occasion as the home crowd paid tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson in his final home game in charge following his announcement to retire.
The game was going accordibg to plan for United as Javier Hernandez gave them a first-half lead, but Michu levelled for the Swans after the restart.
But just as the Swans looked destined for a memorable point, Rio Ferdinand popped up with a fitting late winner to end Fergie's Old Trafford reign with a win.
And so it was back to the Liberty Stadium for the final game of the season against Fulham. And despite a 3-0 defeat, no one will ever forget 2012-13 as Swansea City reached new heights, broke records and made history.
Thanks for the memories. See you in August.