When Michel Vorm, the Swansea City goalkeeper, emerged from the dressing room at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium after conceding four times on his Premier League debut in mid-August, he quipped, "I hope it's not like this every week."
Fear not. Brendan Rodgers' well-oiled outfit did not turn into the cannon fodder many pundits had predicted at the start of the season. In fact, almost seven months later Swansea are within touching distance of retaining top-flight status for another year.
Central to the newly promoted Welsh side's incredible journey this term has been Vorm's form. Signed for a bargain £1.5million from FC Utrecht, the Dutch international has been one of Swansea's stand-out performers, earning the glowing praise of his manager, who believes the keeper is now worth over 13 times his original value.
Rodgers, whose men entertain Roberto Mancini's League leaders at the Liberty Stadium today, said: "Michel has been nothing short of marvellous for us. We got him for £1.5m which is an absolute snip now. But finding players is an exciting part of my job. We all know the £20m players. The challenge is, can you find the player for £500,000 like Scott Sinclair or Michel at £1.5m and turn them into £15m players?"
Despite the demoralising opening weekend 4-0 scoreline, Vorm shone with 11 superb saves. But that display was just a sign of things to come from the 28-year-old whose 10 clean sheets – the latest in last weekend's 2-0 win at Wigan – have kept the top-flight newcomers away from the relegation zone.
"His performance level has been terrific and he has been one of the best performers in the League this season," added Rodgers. "I have said to him, 'You can play for a big club which challenges for honours.' We were just fortunate that we identified someone and have taken away the flaws he had. People said he wasn't tall enough but he's6ft 1in and can jump higher than keepers who are 6ft 5ins. He makes saves and fits into our style of play. It's been a joy to work with him."
Vorm himself reckons Mancini's big-spenders will win their first League title since 1968 – even after a shock defeat in south Wales. "They have a great squad of 22, 23 top players," he said. "Even if they get injuries they can change players with world class quality. [Carlos] Tevez will be back in a couple of weeks so they have the best squad to become the Premier League champions. But we can win against anybody, especially at home. We have only lost to Manchester United and Norwich. We beat Arsenal, drew with Chelsea in the last seconds and we've played some really good matches.
"We have something to prove. We played Man City in the first match of the season and they killed us. It's something we want to make up for. We want to show people we can play against a team like Man City. It will be a tough one because I think Man City are the best team in the Premier League.
"We have nothing to lose and we'll have to play as we did against Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea. It won't be easy for them."
Swansea City v Manchester City kicks-off today at 2pmReuse content