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Page last updated at 09:46 GMT, Sunday, 13 April 2008 10:46 UK

Martinez is the toast of Swansea

By David Dulin

Roberto Martinez

Swansea City sealed promotion to the Championship for the first time in 24 years following the 2-1 over Gillingham on Saturday.

But when Roberto Martinez was handed the reins at the Liberty Stadium in February last year, his appointment raised a few eyebrows.

The Spaniard was a fans' favourite as a player before he was released by predecessor Kenny Jackett eight months earlier.

But a few questioned if he was the right person to take the club forward given his lack of managerial experience.

It is safe to say those questions have been answered.

And more so, they did it in style, playing some dazzling football along the way and having the ability to off opponents with clinical composure.

"For moments like today, it's worth it to be under the pressure and stress [of being a manager]," said Martinez.

"I can guarantee you I will sleep well, because it's been a very intense period.

"If we can clinch the title it will be fantastic, but the priority was to get promotion and we are going to enjoy the moment.

"Promotion is for the fans."

When Martinez took charge on 22 February, 2007, the Swans were struggling to keep up with the promotion-chasing pack.

ROBERTO MARTINEZ FACTFILE
Roberto Martinez
Born: 13 July, 1973
From: Balaguer, Catalonia
Managerial record:
P 66, W39, D15, L12
Playing career: CF Balaguer, Real Zaragoza, Wigan Athletic, Motherwell, Walsall, Swansea City, Chester City
Did You Know?: Martinez was the first Spaniard to score in the FA Cup

But one defeat in 11 took them into the final game of the season still in with a shout.

That went against them, though, with a 6-3 loss at home to Blackpool and they narrowly missed out on a play-off spot, but the Swans have not looked back since.

Martinez put his stamp on the side, adding eight new faces last summer.

They came in the form of top scorer Jason Scotland, who arrived from Scottish side St Johnstone, along with fellow striker Darryl Duffy from Hull.

Defender Angel Rangel and frontman Guillem Bauza - whose brace at the Priestfield Stadium sealed promotion - added to the Spanish connection at the club.

Welshman Matty Collins joined from Fulham and young Liverpool starlet Paul Anderson arrived on a season-long loan.

Martinez also brought in Dutch duo Ferrie Bodde from Den Haag and goalkeeper Dorus de Vries from Scottish side Dunfermline.

And it was De Vries' arrival that sparked the exit of number one keeper Willy Gueret to MK Dons.

But there was a much bigger talking point than Gueret's departure, along with the exits of striker Bayo Akinfenwa, centre-back Izzy Iriekpen, midfielder Tom Williams and reserve keeper Andy Oakes.

It was the bold decision by rookie boss Martinez to allow talisman Lee Trundle to depart for Bristol City in a £1m move.

Trundle was regarded with legend-status by the Swansea faithful for his showboating and topping the 20-goal mark in all four seasons with the club.

Despite the loss of Trundle, supporters still had hope for the new season.

Martinez had installed a rigorous training regime and strict dietary guidelines, which improved fitness and allowed his team to play in the quick and slick tempo he demands.

And that is what they did at the start of the season, except they found goals hard to come by and by the end of September the Swans had won just one home league game out of four.

A section of the Swansea faithful were already starting to get restless and left-back Marcos Painter was involved in a verbal bust-up with a supporter during the 0-0 home draw with Brighton.

MARTINEZ'S KEY SIGNINGS
Jason Scotland (St Johnstone)
Ferrie Bodde (Den Haag)
Dorus De Vries (Dunfermline)
Angel Rangel (Terrassa)
Paul Anderson (Liverpool)

But that incident seemed to spur the Swans on and they went on to win the next four league games in style, including a 5-0 demolition of then-leaders Leyton Orient.

Two brief stints at the top of League One were followed by a more permanent stay starting on 27 November.

They have remained there since, playing some scintillating football in the process and at one point building up a 14-point lead over their nearest rivals.

But a run of 18 games unbeaten in the league was brought to an end in March by Millwall, managed by former Swans boss Jackett.

That loss was the start of a Swansea wobble, as they saw their lead reduced to four points over Carlisle, who were in second, and six points over Doncaster, who stood just outside the automatic promotion spots.

Swansea seemed set to clinch promotion on 5 April, when they led Bournemouth 2-0 at home and a 10-man Doncaster were losing at Huddersfield.

In the blink of an eye that changed, Doncaster finding a late equaliser before the unthinkable, as relegation-threatened Bournemouth grabbed two injury-time goals at the Liberty Stadium for a dramatic win

However, any worries by Swans fans that their side were capable of an almighty collapse were banished thanks to Saturday's win at Gillingham.

Martinez has worked his magic in an incredible first season in charge and has the potential to take Swansea City to even more glory in the future.



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see also
Swansea style delights Martinez
13 Apr 08 |  Swansea
Gillingham 1-2 Swansea
12 Apr 08 |  League One
Swans overjoyed by promotion win
12 Apr 08 |  Swansea
The Swans are going up!
12 Apr 08 |  Welsh
Sell-out to see Swansea promoted
12 Apr 08 |  South west
BBC Sport Wales coverage
24 Dec 06 |  Wales


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