It was only a matter of time. Wilfried Bony had been scoring goals for fun for too long, more than anyone else in the Premier League during 2014, that it was inevitable Manchester City would swoop in and prise Swansea’s shining light away from Garry Monk.
Then, to compound his misery, he watched in pain and fear as Chelsea comprehensively dismantled his Bony-less team on Saturday, leaving the 35-year-old with a real litmus test on his hands in the coming weeks.
Monk was a daring appointment by the Swansea boardroom following the departure of Michael Laudrup but it has, by and alrge, paid dividends for a club who have made glorious strides in the past decade.
Monk, a man with the Welsh club’s values close to heart, was chosen as the man to lead the club forward and sustain their status as one of the Premier League’s romantic sides. And although the Swans have lost some of the allure and swagger that made them so enjoyably to watch under Brendan Rodgers, then Laudrup, they have shown some staying power under the stewardship on Monk.
Swansea are ninth in the table and to finish in the top-10 this season would represent a fine success for the Liberty Stadium side, especially considering they are now without their deadliest weapon.
Bony’s 25 league goals in 54 appearances was an extremely impressive return, even for a man who cost the club a record £12 million when they signed him from Vitesse Arnhem in 2013, and he surpassed the achievements of Swansea’s previous marksman, Michu, who is now something of a Premier League pariah.
Without the powerful Ivorian forward though, Monk now finds himself up against it to show his merits as a top-flight manager and lead Swansea through this mini-storm.
Of course, Monk has not been helped by the apparent disquiet of the man expected to fill the Bony void in the squad – Bafetimbi Gomis.
The Frenchman, signed from Lyon on a free transfer last summer, has failed to consistently demonstrate his qualities in a distinctly underwhelming half-season with the Swans and just as the dust was settling on Bony’s departure, the 29-year-old this week raised significant doubts over his own future.
Perhaps Gomis’ misgivings are warranted, considering he has only started two games all season, but it underlines the problems facing Monk now as he searches for the right formula to lead the club through this period of uncertainty.
It is regrettable that Gomis has virtually signalled his intentions of leaving Swansea as now represents his biggest opportunity to prove his worth.
With Bony gone, Gomis was expected to take up the mantle and deliver goals on a regular basis but his apparent frustrations at a lack of playing time have indefinitely marred his chances of doing just that.
If Swansea lose Gomis, Monk will be left with Marvin Emnes and Moudou Barrow, an unheralded duo who have yet to open their league accounts. He also has Nelson Oliviera at his disposal after the 23-year-old joined on-loan from Benfica until the end of the season.
However, it is unlikely that Monk will seek to proceed with that trio of players and will need to invest wisely in order to keep the goals flowing.
Monk remained defiant following the thrashing by Chelsea, which left his club winless since their Boxing Day victory over Aston Villa, but the reality is the odds are firmly stacked against him regarding a renaissance.
The defeat against Chelsea came just a couple of weeks after Monk’s men were hammered 4-1 by Liverpool and frustrating draws against QPR and West Ham and with morale undeniably shaken by the recent chain of events, their FA Cup fourth round tie with Blackburn Rovers this Saturday takes on added significance.
A cup run, to mirror the 2013 League Cup heroics under Laudrup, could work wonders for a season that is threatening to unravel for Monk. The Laudrup factor shimmered with a binding team spirit that carried Swansea to unprecedented levels of success now seem a distant memory as an aura of anxiety looms over the Liberty Stadium.
For a time, Swansea became synonymous with attractive, neat-passing football and established an admirable identity as one of the Premier League’s most entertaining sides. They may not have Bony anymore, but they still have the core of a team that can continue to thrive.
They possess a fine creative hub in Gylfi Sigurdsson, while Jonjo Shelvey has the potential to flourish in midfield, if he can steady his temperament.
Monk also has youthful prospects aplenty with Moudou Barrow, Tom Carroll and Jefferson Montero representing three richly talented footballers who have tremendous scope for potential.
There are a number of key decisions facing Monk now in what is a critical period for him; how does he resolve the Gomis issue? How does he invest with the funds he receives from the Bony sale? Does he keep the 4-2-3-1 system that worked efficiently with Bony as a lone-striker or does he take the bold option of tinkering tactically to allay the recent slump in form? Only time will tell.
Monk is an immensely likeable manager who clearly possesses ambition and acumen but those qualities will be deemed secondary if he can not weather the storm and return the graceful elegance to the Swans.