Garry Monk challenges Swansea City to continue their success story
SWANSEA City will head off on yet another bus parade today with Garry Monk confident they can continue on the road to success.
Swansea have been one long good news story since that pivotal win over Hull City ten years ago ensured they dodged the drop to the Conference.
Where will it all end? Given that Swansea are now in the top half of the Premier League and have a major trophy to wave at their fans this afternoon, there are some who would argue that there is little room left for progress.
But Monk is convinced Swansea can keep on moving forward.
Swansea's club skipper joined the club when they had just registered a nondescript mid-table finish in the fourth tier of English football in 2004.
He helped Swansea win promotion that season — which meant a fitting end to life at Vetch Field — and wore the armband as Roberto Martinez masterminded the League One title win of 2008.
Monk then played a big part as Swansea reached the Premier League under Brendan Rodgers and, while he has never been a regular in the top flight, he remains at the heart of Michael Laudrup's squad.
He began Sunday's Capital One Cup final on the substitutes' bench, but arrived in the second half as Swansea dismantled Bradford City and then lifted the trophy alongside team captain Ashley Williams.
And after years spent fighting to put Swansea on the footballing map, Monk believes the club are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
"I think when we first started playing the football we play, teams didn't know what to expect," the 33-year-old says.
"Now people know what we're about but whoever we play, even the biggest sides, they know they're in for a game against us, especially at the Liberty.
"We have a great reputation now but it's deserved, we are up there on merit.
"We've been fighting for so long for people to recognise what we do, now when the attention and the recognition comes we can relish it.
"But the main thing for us is that we keep progressing, that's so important.
"We've done that every season — the club keeps progressing and the team keeps progressing.
"And as well as we've done, we need to try to keep pushing on and making sure days like Sunday don't stop."
Swansea will have a new arena in which to build their reputation next season, a new front on which to fight.
They look like maintaining their top-flight status with something to spare this spring, just as was the case last term under Brendan Rodgers.
There is a theory — which is backed by a considerable amount of evidence from other clubs — that having to compete in Europe can have a negative impact on a team's domestic form.
But Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins is adamant Laudrup's men will be able to give the Europa League a go next season while continuing to stabilise in the Premier League.
And there are plenty suggesting already that Swansea's continental passing style will help them thrive when they tackle overseas opponents.
"I hope Europe could suit us," says Monk.
"I don't want to look too far ahead because we want to enjoy winning the cup and then concentrate on making sure we finish the season strongly.
"But when Europe comes around, I'm sure it will be something we can relish as a club. We'll really make the most of it.
"We'll probably end up doing some air miles — we'll get a trip to Azerbaijan or something like that — but just to be in with the chance is amazing. We can all take something from the experience of winning a cup, and now we can all look forward to Europe.
"It's such an accomplishment for us."
Laudrup's maiden season in Wales has worked out better than anyone might have expected when Rodgers quit for Liverpool.
And though Monk has not had the easiest ride under the former Getafe coach, he hopes he will be around for a while yet.
Swansea's senior central defender was told at the start of the season that he could leave the club and, but for a back injury, he might have joined Bristol City on loan.
Having stuck around, Monk made his first mark under Laudrup in the early stages of the Capital One Cup, netting a dramatic late winner at Crawley Town.
Since then the former Southampton player has continued to impress when called upon, proving that he remains capable of doing a sound job for the club he calls home.
Monk has said all along that while he is hungry to play more often, he can handle a back-up role if the team are thriving.
And though he has had a hard time trying to impress Laudrup, he does not want the Dane to go.
There are suggestions that Laudrup, like Rodgers and Martinez before him, could be tempted away by a club with greater resources.
But Monk says: "We don't anyone to go, the manager or anyone else.
"We've lost our managers for a number of years now and managed to bounce back.
"But hopefully we don't have to go through the same again because it's important the club keeps a bit of continuity and stability after the last few years.
"We've lost managers in the past and maintained our standards — and if anything actually improved — but it would be nice if we had a summer where we don't have to do interviews about who might be coming in."