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Swans End Their Campaign Not Far From Where They Started

By Graham Thomas

It seems appropriate that Swansea City can end their season with an identical record to their current high point, achieved back in October.

Nothing would more clearly illustrate a wasted few months in the club’s history.

If the Swans beat Millwall at home on Saturday – they are 21/20 favourites with DragonBet to do so – they will have gained four wins and a draw from the final five matches of their Championship campaign.

The sequence of 13 points from a possible 15 is exactly the same as they managed back in October.

The big difference between then and now, of course, is that in the autumn their head coach was Michael Duff. They end the season under Luke Williams.

Duff won five out of his 19 Championship matches and had a points per match (PPM) average of 1.14 in all competitions by the time he was sacked in early December.

After a brief spell with caretaker Alan Sheehan at the helm, the Swans under Williams have won seven games out of 19 – two more than Duff managed – and they have a PPM average of 1.33.

So, there has been a modest improvement under Williams, compared to Duff and the club will secure 13th place in the Championship if they beat the Lions on Saturday.

But the difference between the first half of the season and the second is evident in much more than just results.

Duff was a strange appointment for a club that has always had a consistent profile for the man they wanted to lead.

Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers, Michael Laudrup, Graham Potter, Steve Cooper and Russell Martin – all of the club’s most successful bosses have tended to fit a similar mould.

They coached progressive, possession-based football, they wanted their players to play with a smile on their faces, and, perhaps most crucially, they connected well with supporters, either through the media or more directly.

Duff did none of those things. What’s more, there was absolutely nothing in his background as a manager elsewhere to suggest that he would do.

The five months he spent in charge were a wrong turning, an avoidable blunder which for a time appeared might drop the club into a relegation struggle that could have ended with disastrous consequences.

It’s hard to understand how the club could have got the appointment so wrong, unless you look carefully at the people who made it.

The American ownership installed Andy Coleman as chairman, someone who ruefully admitted after Duff’s removal that he did not appreciate how much the style of football mattered to the club’s supporter base.

Really? That’s like the owners of Rossi’s famous fish and chip shop near the Stadium claiming they didn’t realise salt and vinegar should always be available.

Some years ago I once hired a car at a remote office in a small town in southern Italy. When I told the man behind the desk I was from Wales, he smiled broadly and said: “Swansea City . . . I love their style.”

It appears he knew something the club’s own chairman did not.

Williams still has a lot to prove and he will need to show a flair for recruitment and squad building this summer as his current crop of players is about to be broken up.

But he has already repaired a club that seemed wounded mid-way through the season and the recent upturn in results has coincided with a more positive outlook among supporters.

This week, the club reported a loss of £17.9m in their annual accounts, a sizeable sum given that their turnover these days is down to just £21.5m – small change compared to the near £100m turnover in the heady days of the Premier League eight years ago.

But after travelling for five months along the wrong road, at least under Williams they will start next season facing in the right direction.

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