Talking Tactics | Season in review 2019-20
It was a heartbreaking end to Swansea City’s 2019-20 season as they fell to defeat to Brentford in the semi-finals of the Championship play-offs.
But, as far as debut campaigns go, there are plenty of positives for Steve Cooper to take forward in South Wales.
And no-one is likely to forget the dramatic circumstances in which they claimed sixth spot with that 4-1 win over Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Here, football stats experts WhoScored.com take a look at some of the key players for Cooper's side from the unprecedented, elongated campaign.
Top Rated Player - Andre Ayew
With a WhoScored.com rating of 7.36, Andre Ayew was the Swans top-rated player for 2019-20.
The Ghana star played no part in the first two league matches of the season, but proved to be a vital cog in Cooper's attacking machine as he scored 16 goals and provided seven assists.
In all, Ayew's performances earned him a spot in the WhoScored.com Championship team of the season.
To go with Ayew's fine goal and assist return, his seven WhoScored.com man-of-the-match awards was the fourth-highest tally of anyone in the league, including a run of three successive accolades during the festive period against Blackburn, Middlesbrough and Luton.
Ayew was also the third most-fouled player (103) in the division, and this not only helped alleviate pressure on the Swansea goal, but presented them with chances in dangerous attacking positions too.
Captain Consistent - Matt Grimes
Not only did Cooper enjoy a fine debut season in the Swansea dugout, but Matt Grimes impressed in his first campaign as captain.
Named skipper last July, the midfielder took on the mantle with ease and poise. He played every single minute of Swansea's Championship season, plus the full 90 minutes in their two-legged affair tie against Brentford.
A player to play every minute of the season is more common for goalkeepers or defenders, so for a midfielder to achieve the feat in such a demanding position is an impressive feat.
Grimes made the most of his time on the pitch, too, as he provided seven assists in all - no Swansea player made more goals - including two in the 4-1 win at Reading on the final day of the regular season.
When it came to Championship midfielders, only Reading's John Swift (seven) won more WhoScored.com man-of-the-match awards than Grimes (five).
What's more, the 25-year-old made at least 10 more tackles (132) than any other player in England's second tier to help him to a WhoScored.com rating of 7.13 as he routinely displayed a strength of 'tackling'.
The January Arrivals
January can be a challenging transfer window for clubs. Teams may look to the winter transfer window to swell the ranks or to add that touch of class to help reach their seasonal goals. In Swansea's case, it was the latter.
Rhian Brewster, Conor Gallagher and Marc Guehi all joined on loan from Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, and each enjoyed success in their own right.
Brewster was the stand-out acquisition and he didn't disappoint. Only Ayew (16) scored more goals than Brewster (11) of all Swansea players in the Championship last season, and it was on the road where the youngster excelled.
Despite making just 12 away appearances, Brewster's nine away league goals was the fifth best return in the league.
Of those to have made more than 10 league outings, only Charlie Austin (109.3) had a better minutes per away goal record than Brewster (109.5) in the Championship last season and it helped the young forward yield a better away WhoScored.com rating (7.26) than any other Swansea player.
Like Brewster, Gallagher came in and made a fine start to life at the Liberty. Having been recalled by Chelsea from Charlton in January, the young attacker was promptly sent to the Swans and he adjusted to Cooper's demands seamlessly.
Only Ayew and Grimes (both seven) registered more assists than Gallagher (six) and there can be no doubt that Swansea and the 20-year-old both benefited from his stint in SA1.
Guehi, too, did well when called upon in a defence that conceded 53 goals in the regular Championship season, that one of the better returns in the league.
The trio had all played under Cooper before, securing winners' medals in England Under-17's successful 2017 World Cup campaign, so it was no surprise to see the three players finish among the six top-rated performers of all Swansea players last season; Brewster was third (7.00), Gallagher fifth (6.88), Guehi sixth (6.83).
The Season as a Whole
In all, it was a more than solid start to life at the Liberty Stadium for Cooper, although he has already made clear he is setting his sights higher moving forward.
There have been some departures since the end of the season, as is the case for every club, with Brewster, Gallagher, Guehi and goalkeeper Freddie Woodman all returning to their parent clubs following the culmination of their loan spells.
Mike van der Hoorn, too, has departed, but there is a solid foundation to build upon going forward.
And Cooper will be looking to build on the encouraging signs from his first campaign and take Swansea forward next term.