Michu's player of the year crown ends a season of Swansea City plaudits
MICHU ended a season-long stream of plaudits by bagging The Evening Post Supporters' Player of the Year trophy at Swansea City's annual awards bash last night.
The prize, voted for by our readers, was recognition for a campaign in which the Spaniard dumbfounded opponents and pundits up and down the country.
Since early August last year, the Premier League has been asking how Swansea managed to bag this gem for such a paltry price.
And why was no-one else tracking a player with such obvious ability?
If you believe Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, some of the biggest clubs in the land have launched internal investigations to answer just those questions.
Scouts throughout the league have apparently squirmed through awkward interrogations about how exactly a player who has scored 18 top-flight goals slipped through the net.
Michu made a low-key arrival in South Wales, signing in a £2.2 million deal from Rayo Vallecano without much fanfare.
Despite the fact Michu finished up as the highest scoring midfielder in La Liga last season, scouts on these shores seemed to have missed, or dismissed, the likeable frontman from Oviedo.
But Michael Laudrup knew all about his attributes and it didn't take the forward long to repay the Dane's faith.
Swansea's opening game of the season was just eight minutes old when Michu struck from the edge of the area, Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Rob Green fumbled and the ball nestled in the net.
If the effort that opened his account owed something to good fortune, Michu's second Swansea goal was breathtakingly emphatic.
The Real Oviedo youth product raced on to Wayne Routledge's pass and swept the ball into the top corner with devastating accuracy.
Laudrup's men went on to triumph 5-0 in that first match, and Swansea fans left suspecting their side might have also been big winners in the transfer market.
Their hopes proved to be well founded as Michu scored another five goals in his next eight matches.
Further strikes followed in victories over Newcastle and West Brom before Michu's growing reputation rose another few levels.
With time running out at the Emirates, Swansea were on course to record a famous draw away to Arsenal.
Then, as the clock ticked down, Michu exchanged passes with Luke Moore and found himself bearing down on goal.
While visiting fans held their breath, their new hero was ice cool.
Michu stared into the whites of Wojciech Szczesny's eyes then calmly planted the ball past the Gunners goalkeeper.
But he wasn't finished there.
After Nathan Dyer chased down Carl Jenkinson, Michu found himself in the same position.
And again the former Celta Vigo man was unflappable, slowing to a stroll before finding the bottom corner.
Michu's scoring streak continued — there were four goals in the following seven matches — before his next headline-grabbing act arrived in January.
Swansea travelled to Chelsea for a Capital One Cup semi-final as massive underdogs against the reigning European champions.
But Stamford Bridge was stunned into silence when Michu collected the ball from Jonathan de Guzman before expertly dispatching at the near post.
Danny Graham's goal completed a victory which ultimately sent Swansea to Wembley, and Michu was again on target in the 5-0 win over Bradford in the final.
Talk of an international call-up followed the 27-year-old around all season, with Spain coach Vicente del Bosque suggesting Swansea's new star would win a first cap this spring.
In the end that failed to materialise, and Michu was also controversially left off the Professional Footballers' Association player of the year shortlist.
But he was never likely to be overlooked by Swansea, to whom his value is undeniable.
In a campaign where the likes of Ashley Williams and Leon Britton have again shone, Michel Vorm has attracted admiring glances from top clubs and Ben Davies has come from nowhere to be a top-flight star, Michu stands apart.
And after he this week promised to ignore any possible attempts to prise him away from the Liberty during the summer, it seems Swansea fans can look forward to more golden moments next season.