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armchair centre back :: things fall apart

two pals meeting in the dole queue
what the hell happened?

about the only good thing about being a swansea city fc fan this season would be that, were you also a masochist, you would have been able to save good money by watching games instead of paying to have someone inflict pain on you. unfortunately it seems clear that no one established a safe word.

after their best finish ever in 2014-15 [highest number of points, highest position, most games won], the world was swansea's oyster. coming into the new season, new signing andre ayew was a serious 'get'. and the players responsible for last year's great ride had stuck around. normally, when a mid-level team does well, those with more money come to collect the spoils. [southampton have endured having their prize feathers plucked two years in a row.]

and indeed, this year seemed to start very well. they held satan's footsoldiers chelsea to a tie on opening day. [at that point, chelsea were still the team that won the league by a country mile a few months earlier and not the laughing stock whose smug manager now feels the need to reassure the faithful that they won't be relegated to the championship next year.] they beat louis van gaal's half-billion dollar manchester united for the third time in a row. every week gomis and ayew were matching each other for goals and assists- one would set up the other, then they'd switch for the next goal.

i'm as excited as you are, gus
and then the good times just stopped. we were hearty and healthy and in the prime of life and then suddenly we were lying on the ground turning grey and wondering what the light was at the end of that long tunnel, while manager garry monk tried desperately to perform cpr.

so this week, garry got his walking papers, after more than a decade as player and then manager, and the swans started their first monk-less game in the premier league. that's become the thing you do when your team is in freefall, which is a big risk if you ask me, which no one did, not that i would have expected them to do so. after all, there were a lot of signs that monk was a pretty brilliant manager emerging from the chrysalis and it might have been worth riding out the storm.

misgivings, i has them.

i feel like we might just have treated symptoms of a heart attack by amputating a foot, which is a significant handicap if you're playing football. looking around the internet, it's pretty clear that i'm not alone: the range of opinions goes from "i hate it, but it had to be done" to "this is a terrible decision". huw jenkins, the chairman who had to do the firing, looked like eeyore on downers as he sat by himself watching the team lose a heartbreaker to manchester city today. [seriously joe hart, y u no stop goals like that 4 england?]

there are theories as to what happened. [here are seven of them, for starters. here are a whole bunch more, with the caveat that the article has been described as sounding "like it was written by garry monk's mother."] when monk stepped in to replace former manager michael laudrup after a similar slide, it seemed kind of obvious that there was a major problem between the manager and certain factions of the players. [it seemed even more obvious when monk loaded all of laudrup's favourites onto dinghies at the end of the season and pushed them into the ocean.]

this goes back to my earlier metaphor about curing the symptoms of a heart attack by amputating a foot: if it's not clear what's going on, maybe we shouldn't be rushing into surgery just yet.

i really want someone to give mourinho this look
in our case, the symptoms are that our key players have just stopped performing [although gylfi sigurdsson and bafétimbi gomis were better today], so we clearly need someone who is capable of motivating the demotivated. that's easy to say and probably the most difficult thing to accomplish. "here, bring these guys back from the dead, will you?" sure, no problem. oh, and as an extra challenge, we're now just barely clear of the dreaded "drop zone", where we risk being pushed back a division if we don't shape up, so whoever takes over needs to have a skill for uphill battles. so it's more like "here, bring these guys back from the dead, will you? and do it in this car that we've just pushed into a lake. ta."

so now that we've established the parameters for the job, let's look at the potential new hires, shall we?

brendan rodgers :: the manager who brought swansea into the premier league and then got stolen away by liverpool, until he was sacked earlier this season. the favourite among swansea fans, he's said he's not interested, possibly because he'd like to take over as manager of the england national team. however, some of us think that position belongs to alan pardew, and if brendan wants it so badly, he should have to meet alan in the boxing ring to fight for it. i'd seriously cross the ocean to see that. but no, brendan's moment at swansea is past and he knows it, even if the jack army doesn't.

gus poyet :: the uruguayan just barely kept sunderland in the premier league in 2014 and got fired from his managerial post there when they dropped right back into the relegation zone in 2015. he seems like a good, if slightly temperamental, guy but it is a sad statement on swansea's self-image that a lot of people seem to have resigned themselves to the inevitability of his appointment. i'm going to strike a blow for optimism and say that i believe we can do better.


jorge sampaoli :: the manager of the chilean national team is a popular figure every time a european post opens up, following his team's showing at the last world cup and their win against heavily favoured argentina at the copa america this summer. he's the second favourite behind poyet right now, although that's possibly because there were a flurry of rumours that he'd resigned his post with chile earlier in the week [rumours that he says are untrue]. swansea would have to be brain dead to pass him up. of course, if we have to wait until january for him to make up his mind, which is the timeline he's set, brain death is a possibility.

guess who in this photo wishes he worked somewhere else
ryan giggs :: well if we wanted to have a fresh-out-of-the-starting-block player-turned-manager as a boss, why the hell didn't we just keep the one we had? i kid, i kid. i like giggs and i think you could make a very plausible argument that manchester united wouldn't be any worse off than they are now if they had let him continue as manager after the departure of david moyes. [who was a favourite to take over the swansea job until he said he wasn't interested, which is like hearing that the guy with the uncontrollable flatulence doesn't think you're cool enough to ask to prom.] giggs is welsh, and proudly so, which would be kind of cool. and he basically interned with alex ferguson, which is pretty good on the job training. i'd take that. [did anyone else see giggs' face in the final fifteen minutes of united's woeful performance in bournemouth today? it was like he had somewhere else he had to be. like a job interview.]

unai emery :: lol wut? the former manager of valencia, who took the team to a third place finish in la liga where, unless you're real madrid or barcelona, third place is basically first? the guy who's been manager at sevilla for the last two and a half seasons and has won the europa league twice in a row? yes, he is given the same odds as giggs for becoming the next swansea manager. on the one hand yes, please, but on the other hand is this in any way a realistic possibility? well, some people seem to think so. personally, i think this is the flipside of the poyet-acceptance. i mean, there's confidence and there's that weird sort of confidence that usually leads to someone becoming hitler or stalin. you don't want to be that confident.

chelsea's champions league winning side,
none of whom are still at chelsea
roberto di matteo :: not among the top candidates from odds-makers, but someone whose name has started being tossed around recently. i'm including him because i've got a personal fondness for him and i think he's proven that he functions well when thrust into challenging situations. the man won the damned champions league with chelsea after having the manager's job thrust upon him mid-season. some would argue that he hasn't shown that he excels at managing a team under normal circumstances, but i think that might be because his last two gigs have been managing teams that had expectations of high league position and champions league results. a talented team with more achievable expectations is likely an excellent match. also, he's probably just as motivated to see his former employers at chelsea humiliated as i am. so there's that.

there are, of course, an almost unlimited number of others who can and may take over the helm at liberty stadium. there are a bunch i haven't even touched on in this article. [note: i haven't touched on most of them, because none of them really appeal to me, save andreas villas-boas. considering that his team has just qualified for the knockout phase of the champions league and are in first place domestically, an exit to a team at swansea's level would be just a wee bit surprising.] my only real wish is that swansea hire someone who will make me forget that i thought letting garry monk go was a bad idea.

if, like me, you're still feeling badly for garry, cheer up. he's already been mooted as a possible manager for championship side fulham. alternately, sky bet also has him listed as a 66-1 long shot to replace lucifer jose mourinho, who just got bumped to the top of the list of premier league managers likely to get the axe. 

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