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Titles and turmoil

Peter Fraser recounts the traumatic histories of Swansea and Valencia as they prepare to meet.

Last Updated: 19/09/13 at 11:19

The Vetch Field: Swansea's home up until the move to the Liberty Stadium in

The Vetch Field: Swansea's home up until the move to the Liberty Stadium in

When Valencia and Swansea City meet at the iconic Mestalla Stadium on Thursday in the Europa League, it will be a famous night.

Swansea have come an incredibly long way since the turn of the millennium, having narrowly avoided relegation from the Football League and having been sold for just £1 before going on to become an established Premier League force and winning last season's League Cup.

But Valencia, too, have experienced an immense range of highs and lows both on and off the pitch over the past 13 years and, here, Peter Fraser recounts the respective clubs' recent histories.


Valencia: Having won the Spanish Super Cup at the start of the season, a classy squad, including the likes of Gaizka Mendieta, Santiago Canizares and Kily Gonzalez, under the management of iconic boss Hector Cuper reached the UEFA Champions League final only to suffer a 3-0 defeat by Real Madrid. They finished third in La Liga and just five points behind winners Deportivo La Coruna, with the domestic campaign including victories over Barcelona and Real.

Swansea: John Hollins managed the club to England's old Third Division title as they finished just one point above rivals Rotherham United following an agonising draw between the two teams on the final day of the season. A record nine-game winning run between the end of November and the start of January proved decisive in securing the title.


John Hollins: Swansea boss

Valencia: After a summer of eye-catching signings, including Didier Deschamps, Ruben Baraja, John Carew and Roberto Ayala - plus Pablo Aimar coming in for more than £13million in January - Cuper's side again reached the final of the Champions League. However, they were again beaten - this time by Bayern Munich on penalties. They also slipped to fifth in La Liga, missing out on the Champions League after defeat at Barcelona on the final day of the season thanks to Rivaldo's stunning last-minute goal.

Swansea: Having struggled to adapt to the Second Division following a failure to bring in any summer signings, Hollins' squad were relegated back to the Third Division after just one season. The campaign included a run of 10 defeats in 14 league games and they finished second from bottom. The club were also runners-up in the now defunct Football Association of Wales Premier Cup.


Rafa Benitez: Valencia manager

Valencia: Cuper left the club in the summer and was succeeded by Rafa Benitez. It proved a successful change as the future Liverpool and Chelsea boss guided his squad to the Spanish title. Valencia suffered defeat by Inter Milan in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup.

Swansea: In the year after relegation, the club was sold for £1 to a consortium headed by Tony Petty. Players were sacked and a poor start to the season, which ultimately led to a 20th position finish in the old Third Division, also cost Hollins his job in September as he was replaced by Colin Addison. Fans were outraged at the way the club was being run and it led to the formation of the Swansea City Supporters' Trust. Pressure from fans ultimately led to Petty selling to a rival consortium, which had the backing of the supporters, in February. Addison only lasted until March and was replaced as manager by player Nick Cusack.


Brian Flynn: Took charge

Valencia: Having won the title the previous season, Benitez's men lost the two-legged Spanish Super Cup to Deportivo and finished in a disappointing fifth position in La Liga. They also went out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage after a defeat on away goals by Inter Milan.

Swansea: Cusack only lasted until mid-September when a defeat by Boston United sent the club to the bottom of the Football League. Brian Flynn took over and it was only a victory over Hull City on a famously dramatic final day of the season that saved the squad, which included Roberto Martinez, and Leon Britton, from relegation to the Conference.


Valencia conquer Europe

Valencia: Benitez managed the club to their second La Liga title in three seasons as they finished five points clear of second-placed Barcelona. A 2-0 win over Marseille in the final of the UEFA Cup also secured a memorable European trophy.

Swansea: Lee Trundle was signed on a free from Wrexham in the summer and improvements were made but Flynn was still sacked in March and was replaced by Kenny Jackett as the club finished 10th in the Third Division. They reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in more than 20 years before losing to Tranmere Rovers.


Vetch Field: Now a park

Valencia: Benitez left the club in the summer and took over at Liverpool. He was succeeded by returning former boss Claudio Ranieri. But the ex-Chelsea manager's second spell was unsuccessful and he was sacked in February to be succeeded on a short-term basis by Antonio Lopez Habas with the club out of the Champions League group stages and eventually finishing seventh in La Liga.

Swansea: This was the final season at the club's Vetch Field stadium. Jackett made a slow start to life in Wales but built a side on defensive stability and this ultimately proved a success as promotion from the old Third Division - now titled League Two - was clinched on the final day of the season at Bury with a third-place finish. They bowed out at the Vetch Field with an FAW Premier Cup final win over Wrexham.


David Villa: A star striker

Valencia: Quique Flores took over as manager in the summer and the club finished as runners-up in the Intertoto Cup. They also signed players David Villa and Raul Albiol to superb impact. They would go on to finish third in La Liga and therefore secure a return to the Champions League for the next season.

Swansea: The club enjoyed their first season at the Liberty Stadium and finished in the League One play-offs. They would lose to Barnsley on penalties in the final but had a better experience in the Football League Trophy final, when they beat Carlisle United at the Millennium Stadium. The FAW Premier Cup was also won for a second successive season.


Roberto Martinez: Swansea chief

Valencia: Joaquin was among the players brought in during the summer and the campaign ended in a fourth-place finish in La Liga, 10 points behind winners Barcelona. But the season was marred by off-field rows between manager Flores and the club's hierarchy. Chelsea also ended their Champions League campaign in the quarter-finals.

Swansea: Jackett resigned in the middle of the season and he was replaced by former player Martinez in his first managerial job. But the club would finish outside of the League One play-off positions in seventh place.


Swansea win League One

Valencia: The internal fighting between manager Flores and executives at the club saw the decision taken to sack sporting director Amedeo Carboni over the summer. But this did not improve results and Flores was fired in November. Ronald Koeman was appointed as successor but he did not last the campaign after the club fell into a relegation battle and the Dutchman was gone in April. Salvador Gonzalez, known as Voro, took over as caretaker boss until the end of the season. Bizarrely, the Copa del Rey was won under Koeman but a 15th-place finish in La Liga was a major disappointment.

Swansea: Angel Rangel was among the players brought in during the summer and the defender helped secure the League One title as Martinez's men finished 10 points clear at the top of the table. The goals of Jason Scotland were a major influence. However, defeat on penalties by MK Dons in the Southern Area final of the Football League Trophy was a disappointment.


Unai Emery: New man at Valencia

Valencia: Unai Emery was named the club's new manager and one of his early acts was overseeing the narrow 6-5 aggregate defeat by Real Madrid in the Super Cup. The club topped La Liga at times in the season but ended up finishing sixth. They also lost to Dynamo Kiev in the last 32 of the UEFA Cup. But reports regarding the club's reported debts in excess of €400million surfaced and they had to take a loan from a bank in order to pay players' wages.

Swansea: An eighth-place finish in the Championship was an impressive achievement in the first season in the second tier. Boss Martinez also saw a run to the fifth round of the FA Cup before a defeat in a replay by Fulham at Craven Cottage.


David Silva: Key Valencia player

Valencia: Still crippled by rumours regarding their debts, Emery managed to guide his squad to an impressive third place in La Liga. This was achieved not least with the help of a talented squad, including David Silva, Juan Mata and Villa. In the Europa League, they lost in the quarter-finals against eventual champions Atletico Madrid, who went on to beat Liverpool and Fulham.

Swansea: Manager Martinez moved to Wigan Athletic in the summer and Paolo Sousa was brought in as a replacement. Again, the play-offs proved just out of reach as the club agonisngly finished one point outside the Championship's top six.


Brendan Rodgers: Play-off joy

Valencia: Amid their ongoing financial problems, the summer sales of David Villa to Barcelona, David Silva to Manchester City and Nikola Zigic to Birmingham City raised £70million. But that did not prevent another finish in the top three of La Liga along with reaching the last 16 of the Champions League before being beaten by Schalke.

Swansea: After just one season in charge, Sousa left in the summer and was succeeded by Brendan Rodgers. It proved a successful change in managers as promotion to the Premier League was secured via the Championship play-offs, with Scott Sinclair's hat-trick earning a 4-2 final win over Reading.


Juan Mata: Moved to Chelsea

Valencia: Juan Mata was the next of the star assets to be sold to help address the debt problems and the Spanish playmaker moved to Chelsea in a £23.5million deal. Emery, though, again worked his magic in ensuring a third-place finish in La Liga with only the heavyweights of Real Madrid and Barcelona again proving to be the better teams in Spain. In the Champions League, they went out at the group stages behind table-topping Chelsea.

Swansea: A first campaign in the Premier League did not prove a problem for Rodgers' squad as their trademark passing style secured a commendable 11th place. The season included wins over Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool.


Up for the cup: Swansea silverware

Valencia: Emery left in the summer and former player Mauricio Pellegrino was brought in as the new manager. But Pellegrino was gone by December and Ernesto Valverde was the replacement until the end of the season. With the club's financial situation still delicate, president Manuel Llorente announced he was stepping down in April. The Champions League proved just out of reach after a fifth-place finish in La Liga by just one point.

Swansea: Rodgers left for Liverpool in the summer but his departure did not harm the club, as European legend Michael Laudrup took over. The Dane produced the inspired signing of Michu among others and historically won the League Cup along with a hugely-impressive ninth-place finish in the Premier League.

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e have the personnel. The trick is keeping them fit. Carrick and Blind have missed large chunks of the season, while the defence has been one muddled mess of intermittent stooges, all coming and going at various intervals thus far. We may be just short of title winning quality, but we're half way through. An injury crisis to either of the top two could change things. Optimistic, yes, but not unrealistic.

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arish is the man to blame for this shambles. Pulis must be chuckling into his left over turkey sandwich. I pray this doesn't mean the Neil Warnock media machine will kick in now and he'll be back on the telly box.

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e almost found a new way to lose, just when I thought it was getting boring Giroud does that. Although Arsenal are deservedly called 'soft' the entire midfield is out injured. Still must admit MU are managing to win despite a similar raft of absentees. Think the Gunners have good players but poorly coached.

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