Swansea’s greatest ever manager?

Chris Carra

So Brendan Rodgers has been sacked by Liverpool. It was obvious after just a few months in the job that he probably wouldn’t be able to replicate the success he had enjoyed at Swansea.

And although he left South Wales in a way that evoked a few harsh words from Swans fans, he is still remembered as one of the best Swansea City managers of all time.

But was he the greatest?

Probably not.

Of course, Rodgers’ achievement of lifting Swansea to the Premier League via a thrilling play-off competition was absolutely superb, while that first season in the top flight was nothing short of magical.

But other managers have done some pretty amazing things. Back in 1949, following a dismal wartime period (including the club’s first ever relegation), Belfast-born Billy McCandless lifted spirits and left a lasting impression on Swans fans when he guided the club back into the Second Division as champions of the Third - playing a free-flowing, goal-heavy brand of football unlike any other.

Both Joe Bradshaw in 1926 and Trevor Morris in 1964 will be remembered fondly for guiding Swansea Town to the FA Cup semi-final (the furthest the club has ever reached).

Leaders like Brian Flynn saved Swansea City from a disastrous relegation to non-league football in 2003, while former club captain Roberto Martinez completely changed the style of football to the easy-on-the-eye passing game we have come to love after he became manager in 2007.

Yes, some wonderful managers have helped shape the club in the last 103 years - Walter Whittaker, Harry Griffiths, Kenny Jackett, Michael Laudrup and, of course, Garry Monk, who is doing wonderful things with the club at the moment.

But, while there is no definitive answer, in my eyes - and probably the eyes of many others - John Toshack is Swansea’s greatest ever manager.

Having been a key part of both Liverpool and Cardiff’s strike force as a player, young Toshack arrived at Swansea in February 1978 with no managerial experience. But the 28-year-old proved an instant hit, taking Swansea City from the Fourth Division to the Third after a few months in charge, before repeating the promotion the following season, taking the club into the Second Division.

But his most famous achievement came a year later, in the summer of 1981, when he guided the Swans to the First Division for the first time in their history.

He surpassed himself again during that first season in the top flight, smashing Leeds United 5-1 on the opening day, beating giants like Man United and Liverpool, as well as topping the league for a brief period. The Swans finished in 6th place at the end of the season.

Although he struggled to keep the club at those lofty heights, and was relieved of his position in 1983, he will always be remembered as one of the most hardworking, ambitious and successful managers Swansea City has ever had.

What to read next

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes