After four days in his new job, Garry Monk could be forgiven for thinking that football management is pretty easy. After all, his first game in charge of Swansea City saw him take his team up two places in the Premier League and move four points clear of the relegation zone.
More than that, he averted a local crisis by stopping Cardiff City becoming the first team in 85 years to do the League double in the south Wales derby and he helped inflict on the club’s deadliest of rivals their heaviest derby defeat since 1995.
Not a bad start for a novice manager who still has to complete his Pro Licence before he can be considered as a long-term replacement for Michael Laudrup.
“I never doubted the players – I know them,” Monk said. “I’ve been here for 10 years and I knew they would go out there and work. I told them to go out and do it for themselves.
“They were being questioned. No matter who was sitting here in my seat, they were being questioned about their form and this and that.
“I told them to go out there and show everyone what good players they are – and they are good players and everyone knows that. It’s all about confidence and belief. Football-wise not a problem, it was just the mentality that had to change a little bit.
“Before the game I spoke to Brendan [Rodgers], Roberto [Martinez] and Kenny [Jackett]. I’ve had texts off numerous other coaches I’ve worked with and the support and advice I’ve had from people at the top of their game has been absolutely amazing.”
Welsh sport needed some real fireworks after the damp squib in the Dublin rugby international, but none were on show in the early stages. Wayne Routledge shot tamely at David Marshall and Jonathan de Guzman shot well over the bar.
At the other end there were occasional glimpses of magic from Craig Bellamy and a 35-yard volley from Peter Whittingham that at least forced Michel Vorm into a save.
As for Laudrup, his dismissal was explained away in the match programme by the Swansea City chairman, Huw Jenkins, as necessary to avoid a further erosion of the club’s basic principles.
“Collectively as a board we assessed every aspect surrounding the way our first-team staff and squad was working on a day-to-day basis,” he wrote. “Without going into detail, it was clear to all of our directors that the strong principles we have had at Swansea City over the last 10 years were slowly being eroded.”
Monk made his first major decision as the new boss at half-time when he replaced Marvin Emnes with Pablo Hernandez, and it didn’t take long for the move to pay off. Latching on to a ball just inside the Cardiff half, the Spaniard fed Routledge in the visitors’ penalty area and he stroked the ball home.
That lifted the temperature and pace of the game and within a couple of minutes Bellamy rifled a rasping 30-yard drive against the crossbar. Hernandez helped confidence come flooding back into the home passing and it was a very concerned Solskjaer who emerged from the dug-out to urge on his troops as the game started to slip away.
It had gone completely in the 79th minute when Hernandez carried the ball forward again, Routledge chipped into the box and Nathan Dyer crept between the twin towers in Cardiff’s central defence to head home in the left corner.
Just to add insult to injury, Wilfried Bony added a third with a bullet-like header from a free-kick.
Swansea City (4-2-3-1): Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Flores, Davies; Britton, De Guzman (Canas, 68); Dyer (Taylor, 87), Emnes (Hernandez, 46), Routledge; Bony.
Cardiff City (4-1-4-1): Marshall; Fabio (McNaughton, 68), Caulker, Turner, John; Medel; Zaha (Mutch, 77), Whittingham, Medel, Kim, Bellamy; Jones (Campbell, 56)
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Man of the match: Williams (Swansea)
Match rating: 6/10