So only 7 months after steering the Swans to their highest ever top division position, Garry Monk has sadly departed the Liberty Stadium.
Chairman Huw Jenkins and his fellow board members made the decision after running out of belief that Monk could halt the slide in the club’s league position and acted ahead of a busy Christmas schedule and a potentially key January transfer window.
The general consensus from the football media and other fans has been one of sadness, shock and surprise that after his achievements last season, Garry was not given more time to turn the bad results into good ones. They have bemoaned the decision, indicated that the Swans are now panicking like other clubs and insinuated we have made a bad decision.
SCFC2 have always been a HUGE supporter of Garry Monk throughout his whole Swansea career. We backed his appointment to replace Michael Laudrup and wrote about how we felt his knowledge of the club would keep him as our manager for many years to come. We were and still are Garry Monk supporters and fans and wish this true club legend every success in his future career.
We have though identified 7 reasons (the 7 P’s), why we think Garry was shown the door yesterday and why we now are looking for our 8th manager in the last 12 years.
1. Performance Levels
When we went to Stamford Bridge in August and nearly got the 3 points, I and everyone else felt that this team could even push on from last year. We looked hungry, defensively sound, energetic and challenged the champions in their own back yard. We continued this momentum with a victory against Manchester United but in early September the performance levels of the team started for some reason to drop. The warning signs were there against Watford away but since that point, the level of performance has just seemed to drop away. It started to become very evident that this level was way below what had been delivered in past years and as weeks went on the levels seemed to drop rather than improve. The performance against Leicester was one of the poorest that I have seen from a Swans team in years. There seemed to be no want, desire or belief in the players and they looked like they no longer wanted to play for Garry.
2. Performance Style
A number of fans I spoke to were actually concerned about our performance style last year but as the results were good, they sort of accepted that our style of play had changed. I remember going to Everton and Southampton away and not seeing a free flowing Swansea side playing total football (which is what we have all got used to in the last few years) but a resolute team who were well organized and who would look to get a point or in the Southampton case achieve 1-0 victories. The quick incisive passing, speed of attack and dynamic style of play seemed to be sacrificed in return for hardy, resolute football. Playing a different style whilst still getting you results buys you time. Losing as well as playing the opposite of the Swansea way means fans get frustrated and this loss of our identity I think caused many fans to turn on Garry when the team slid down the table.
3. Parental Pressures
Garry is a dad to 3 young children under the age of 5. His wife Lexy gave birth to 2 baby boys around 12 months ago and whilst it would be easy to say that this had no impact, I do think it affected him in some way. Every parent wants to spend as much time with their family and I am sure Garry was no different. Having such a young family means demands on your time are extensive and matching this with the huge demands on a modern day football manager must have been incredibly difficult. Is it an excuse no. Might it have had an impact? Potentially yes.
4. Past Experience
Garry was the Premier Leagues youngest manager when appointed and I think he still was until he was sacked. Being the youngest gives you lots of advantages over others but also some challenges. Knowledge of being a modern player and what they need is hugely beneficial as a young manager and having only recently achieved his UEFA coaching badges, Garry would have been able to tap into the most modern and up to date thinking on the game. The downside of being young however is that you don’t have the experience of managing in a high pressure environment.
Lots of past legends of the game have indicated that being a player to being a manager is very different. Was Sir Alex Ferguson the same manager when he started at Man Utd as he was when he left? No, he would have learned by his mistakes and having a wise head alongside him was always something that many Swans fans thought Garry should have had. Garry was always his own man and wanted to do things his way but when things started to go wrong, did he therefore have the experience necessary to change things? Should he have brought an older head into help him? Maybe but we will now never know but the reality is that the experience of this time will help in a future role and it’s this ‘experience’ which no one can give a young manager.
5. Pre-season Changes
The old adage of ‘if it’s not broke then don’t fix it’ is always used when changes are made to successful teams but the other side of the argument is that good organisations always evolve. Garry achieved success with the support of Pep Clotet and other backroom staff last season but he decided in the pre-season to bring in James Beattie as a forward’s coach as well as involving ex-Swans midfielder Kristian O’Leary more in the 1st team squad. The club also had to bring in a new goalkeeping coach as Javier Garcia left to go back to Spain and so whilst the changes could have helped Garry evolve, many might have also felt that too many new faces could have caused some challenges.
How did players react to new approaches and ideas? Did these new coaches all get on? Was their competition among the coaches which caused issues within the overall team environment? No one knows and whilst it’s not a sole reason for things going wrong, it could certainly be a factor.
6. Player Performance
The Swans have a hugely talented squad full of internationals. They are the highest paid squad in the club’s history and bar one player (Wilfried Bony), are the same players who took the club to 8th spot last year.
Why then have they underperformed? Why has club captain and great friend of Monk, Ashley Williams looked a shadow of the player that he was last year? Why have senior players not looked the same as they did last season? There is no doubt that the manager has to take responsibility for the team and the performances but it is also down to each individual to show personal pride and desire to want to achieve.
For whatever reason, the players haven’t turned up in many games and whilst we can all speculate as to why this is, each player should this morning (if they care that is) look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves the question ‘Did they do everything they could to help their former manager’?
I think only 2 or 3 of them can honestly answer yes to that question which is sad and disappointing not only for Garry but also for me as a lifelong Swans fan.
7. Positivity to Change Things
The final P for me was positivity and the lack of it! The interview Garry gave on Saturday evening after the Leicester defeat was one of a broken man. He looked like a man who had simply run out of ideas to change the slide in the club’s fortune and I think it was this which ultimately made Chairman Huw Jenkins and other board directors feel a change had to be made. All of Garry’s positive belief seemed to have drained away and the regular comment of ‘we need to continue to work hard’ just didn’t give the Chairman or fans the conviction and belief that he could change things. This meant he was given the words Huw Jenkins would not have wanted to say or had expected to say just 5 months after agreeing a new 3 year contract with Garry.
So there you have it. Seven reasons why I think Garry Monk has gone from hero to zero in just 3 months at Swansea City. In all honesty, no one can really put their finger on the exact reason for the change and maybe it will just be one of those things.
I don’t believe a good manager becomes a bad one overnight and I do believe Garry is a good manager. You don’t take a medium sized club like Swansea City to 8th place in the toughest league in the world without being a good manager.
Garry will be hurting this morning and after watching the club’s video tribute to Garry then I also have a tear in my eye. I think he has been an amazing servant of our club as player, captain and then manager. He has been with us on the whole journey of our rise up the leagues and his departure from Swansea City is one which will stay with me and other fans for some time I am sure.
Some will say ‘players move on’ and they do but very few players give such commitment and loyalty to 1 club and become part of the furniture. Garry Monk did that and helped us become the club we are today. Yes, he maybe lost his way a little but some of the most successful people in the world will say that failure is a good thing and it makes you stronger and better able to deal with future challenges.
I have no doubt that Garry Monk will dust himself down, take some time out with his family and come back stronger. He will have learned from his Swansea experience and will achieve success at another club. He will as the Chairman says always be welcomed back at Swansea and I am sure in time he will be added onto the Supporters Trust Wall of Fame which is done as a thanks to club legends. He deserves that.
So thanks for what you did Monks and continue to be loud, proud and positive in whatever you do in the future!