Centenary feature: 2007-2012
1st May 2013
The close season brought a huge shock to the club as star striker Lee Trundle decided the leave the club for Championship outfit Bristol City. Although the loss was huge, the £1million fee that arrived softened the blow somewhat. His replacement came in the form of Trinidad and Tobago striker Jason Scotland, who arrived from Motherwell. As well as this, the Spanish revolution began in earnest as Angel Rangel, Guillem Bauza and Andrea Orlandi arrived at the Liberty. Willy Gueret was replaced in goal by Dutch stopper Dorus de Vries, while fellow countryman Ferrie Bodde gave the midfield a combative and sophisticated edge. Scotland scored in the club's opening day defeat to Oldham Athletic, but the possession football on show from the Swans was impressive and they got their first win of the campaign against Walsall in the Carling Cup. As the season progressed it was clear that the squad was something special and after going top of the table in November, the Swans would remain there until the season's end. In fact, from mid November until early March the side would embark on an 18-game unbeaten run and amass a 14-point lead at the top of League One. Promotion was clinched away at Gillingham in early April, while the final home game of the season saw the Swans beat Leyton Orient 4-1. Martinez's first full season in charge was a roaring success as the Swans stormed to the title. The only sour note of an otherwise glorious campaign was the Football League's inability to allow the club a trophy parade following an investigation into the 15-point deduction given to Leeds United at the start of the season. Despite this, the 2008-09 season would see the club back in the second tier of English football for the first time in 24 years.
Following a pre-season trip to Spain, two further Spaniards arrived at the Liberty Stadium in the shape of Gorka Pintado and Jordi Gomez - both on season-long loan deals from Espanyol. The first home game of the campaign was a testimonial for long-serving midfielder Kristian O'Leary. Kris has been with the club through the good times and the bad, and was fully deserving of this accolade. The opening league games saw the Swans begin the season in steady fashion and following wins over Brentford and Hull in the Carling Cup, the side were drawn against arch rivals Cardiff City in the third round. There was an electric atmosphere under the Liberty lights as a crowd of over 17,000 saw the Swans secure a memorable 1-0 win thanks to Jordi Gomez's goal. Despite this win, the club bowed out in the next round at home to fellow Championship side Watford, but their good form in the league saw the Swans end 2008 just outside of the play-off places. It wasn't long, however, before a Premier League scalp was secured once more, this time in the FA Cup. After a win over Histon in the third round, the Swans were drawn away to Portsmouth in the fourth round. The 2-0 win dumped the holders out of the competition and paved the way for a home tie against Fulham. The match was selected for live TV coverage and in a game dominated by the home side, the visitors were lucky to escape with a 1-1 draw. In the replay at Craven Cottage, the Swans took the lead before conceding two late goals and bowing out. The season eventually saw the side finish in eighth place, while the club also had the honour of two players being represented in the PFA Championship Team of the Year in the form of Jordi Gomez and Jason Scotland.
As the profile of Swansea City rose, so did Roberto Martinez's stock. During the summer, speculation was rife and the manager eventually left for Premier League side Wigan Athletic. After a bitter and protracted deal that saw him join his former club, Jason Scotland and Jordi Gomez followed Martinez through the exit door to the DW Stadium. Despite this, former Juventus star Paulo Sousa was named as the club's new manager, and he immediately brought in Stephen Dobbie and Jordi Lopez to fill the void left by the aforementioned departures. Early season results were disappointing, a 2-1 defeat at Leicester on the opening day followed by a bizarre home defeat against Scunthorpe in the Carling Cup. Angel Rangel, Garry Monk and Gorka Pintado were all sent off, while new signing Besian Idrizaj went off injured but then had to return to the field to make up the numbers. However, slowly but surely the Swans appeared to get the balance right and results improved. A 3-2 win over Cardiff in November brought scenes of joy, and by the turn of the year the club was nicely positioned in fifth place. By mid March and with only ten games to play, the Swans were fourth in the table and had a 10-point buffer between themselves and the chasing pack. However, the lack of goals were proving to be a real issue, despite the return of fans favourite Lee Trundle on loan. Points were crucially lost and the final game of the season saw the Swans play at home to Doncaster Rovers, knowing that a better result than Blackpool would see them reach the play-offs. Unfortunately, despite Blackpool's 1-1 draw with Bristol City, the Swans failed to find a way past the Donny defence and a 0-0 draw meant that the side finished one place outside the play-offs. They had failed to score in 18 league games that season, and just 40 strikes told it's own tale.
On the morning of May 15, 2010 the tragic news broke that striker Besian Idrizaj had died in his sleep back in his native Austria. A young man, who had made a bright impact at the club, had had his life cut tragically short. His loss was felt right through the club, and only weeks later Paulo Sousa departed for Leicester City. Once again the race was on to find a new manager and after various names were linked with the post, the board opted for former Watford and Reading boss Brendan Rodgers. The Northern Irishman, who had been sacked by Reading six months earlier, was not everyone's choice and he had to win over the fans - but he sure did. The opening months of the season saw the Swans riding high at the top of the division, playing some excellent attacking football and adding the goals that had been lacking the previous year. With his contacts at former club Chelsea, Rodgers was able to bring in Scott Sinclair - a player with electric pace and an eye for goal. Things were looking promising and any doubts surrounding the new manager were quickly glazed over. Swansea were positioned just outside the play-off places by the turn of the year and notable away victories were secured against Watford, Reading and Cardiff. Sinclair was finding the net almost at will, while the club were boosted by the return of Leon Britton in January. The midfielder had departed for Sheffield United the previous summer but longed for a return to south Wales. Despite losing away games against the division's bottom three, home wins were secured against Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Norwich to leave the side with a great chance of automatic promotion. However, a slight dip in form meant that the Swans finished third in the table, just four points adrift of second-placed Norwich. The play-offs loomed large and the side were paired against Nottingham Forest in the semi-final. Following a 0-0 draw at the City Ground, where the Swans played almost the entire game with ten men, the stage was set for the return leg at the Liberty - and it didn't disappoint. The atmosphere was by the far the best that the new stadium has ever seen as goals from Dobbie and Britton gave the home side a two-goal lead. However, former Cardiff striker Robert Earnshaw pulled one back to set up a nervous finale, but Darren Pratley's strike from the halfway line sent the home fans into raptures and book the club's place at Wembley. A record crowd of 86,581 packed into Wembley for the final against Reading, and the first half couldn't have gone better. Two goals from Scott Sinclair and another from Stephen Dobbie saw the Swans race into a three-goal lead, only for Reading to roar back in the second half. The Royals hit the post with the game poised at 3-2 and it was left for Sinclair to secure his hat trick and Swansea's place in the Premier League with a crucial penalty.
Following promotion to the Premier League, the Swans would now play in the best and most watched league in the world. No sooner had the final whistle blown at Wembley than the bookies had made the Swans heavy favourites for relegation. With limited time until the new season began, the manager strengthened the squad with record signing Danny Graham, while Wayne Routledge, Leroy Lita and Steven Caulker also arrived at the Liberty. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Dorus de Vries rejected a new contract and opted for a move to Wolves, as fellow countryman Michel Vorm replaced him for £1.5million. The first game of the season saw the Swans travel to mega-rich Manchester City, but a 4-0 defeat didn't tell the full story. The first four games saw the side fail to find the back of the net, but this all changed in the home game against West Brom as goals from Sinclair, Lita and Dyer secured a 3-0 win. By the time Christmas came around, the Swans were acclimatising well to their new surroundings and found themselves just below mid table and playing some attractive football to match. New Year's Day saw another landmark moment as they secured their first away win of the campaign against Aston Villa. Shortly after, manager Brendan Rodgers strengthened the squad with the arrival of Gylfi Sigurdsson on a loan deal from Hoffenheim. It proved to be a masterstroke as the Icelandic midfielder slotted seamlessly into the squad, playing his part in a memorable 3-2 win over Arsenal in January. Further away wins followed at West Brom, Fulham and Wigan while Manchester City were beaten 1-0 at the Liberty in mid March. The season finished with a home win over Liverpool that meant the Swans finished an incredible 11th in the Premier League - a year to remember for everyone connected to the club. As in previous years, success came at a price, as Rodgers was enticed away from the club to take over at Liverpool. Further blows followed as Joe Allen followed the former boss to Anfield, while Gylfi Sigurdsson signed for Tottenham and Steven Caulker returned to White Hart Lane after an excellent season at the Liberty. After much deliberation, the man brought in to lead the Swans into their second season was football legend Michael Laudrup. And with it began another memorable chapter in the history of Swansea City.