This time last year Welsh clubs were enjoying ‘the best season ever’.
Swansea City had just won the Capital One Cup at Wembley. Wrexham had just reached Wembley in the FA Trophy – and were top of the Blue Square Premier.
Cardiff City were sitting pretty at the top of The Championship – preparing for promotion.
And Newport County were dreaming of Wembley and a return to the Football League – at the expense of Wrexham unfortunately.
But the last twelve months haven’t been kind.
Who’d have thought that three of the four clubs would have changed managers within a year?
Justin Edinburgh at Newport is the only one that remains. And even though this is always a dangerous statement in football – it’s nice to say that his job is totally safe.
Newport could yet lose their young talented manager to a bigger club of course – but that’s another story.
Andy Morrell at Wrexham is the latest to leave. The announcement that his time at the Racecourse was at an end completes a very unholy trinity alongside Cardiff and Swansea.
The two South Wales clubs chose to change managers to try and stay in The Premier League.
You can’t really argue with the decision at Swansea. The club were looking lost under Michael Laudrup with the manager also looking like he’d lost interest.
Appointing Garry Monk has made a massive difference. They may have only won one game since the change but it’s obvious that things are much better.
The performance against Napoli showed there’s not a lot wrong at the club – and with the European adventure over The Swans are now clear to ‘concentrate on the league’.
The players seem happier – and that is basically the biggest challenge for a new manager.
You can discuss tactics all day long but if the players are giving 100% then you’ve got a chance. If that changes – as we saw with Laudrup – then you’ve got problems.
And then we have Cardiff.
Who knows what might have happened had Malky Mackay not been sacked. But things aren’t getting any better since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Lets be honest, the club weren’t taking the league by storm before Mackay left. But the team were picking up precious points now and again – enough to suggest that there was some hope at least.
Their worst run of results was two defeats in a row.
Solskjaer lost his first three!
Ok – to be fair – two of those were in Manchester against City and Utd. But still – it shows that Mackay wasn’t leading them head first towards certain relegation.
Four points from eight games is Solskjaer’s total – and even thought they have played some big clubs the last few games have been horrific.
Cardiff haven’t scored in their last three games and the 4-0 defeat against Hull felt like another nail in the coffin.
Not quite the final nail – but the hammer is poised to strike.
It will be interesting to see how Wrexham react following the departure of Andy Morrell.
Losing the Play Off final against Newport was a massive blow. The hangover saw The Dragons stutter at the start of the season and they simply haven’t managed to recover.
It’s obviously not too late to reach the play off’s again this season – but it would take an amazing turn around.
It’s all about getting things right for next season for Wrexham. The same for Swansea.
As for Cardiff the next few weeks are huge.
The owner Vincent Tan might think that the new manager will keep the club in the top flight – but the basic facts tell you otherwise.
Solskaer has said that they need five wins from their last 11 games – after only winning five games all season! The owner and manager are in the minority on this one.
It looks like being an Annus Horribilis for Cardiff unfortunately.
Thanks goodness for Newport!