Swansea City made a winning start to life after Michael Laudrup by beating Cardiff City 3-0 on Saturday to leave their fierce rivals mired in the Premier League relegation zone.
Laudrup was sacked as manager on Tuesday and replaced by rookie coach Garry Monk, but second-half goals from Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony saw Cardiff blown away in the south Wales derby. Having won only one of their previous 10 league games, Swansea moved four points clear of the bottom three, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff now three points from safety with 13 games remaining.
Writing in the match-day program, Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins justified Laudrup's sacking by claiming that the club's "strong principles" were "slowly being eroded" under the Dane's stewardship. Whatever the reasons for Laudrup's dismissal, Swansea's players seemed determined to impress Monk -- who was promoted from the playing staff -- as they flew out of the traps at a rain-lashed Liberty Stadium.
Middlesbrough loanee Marvin Emnes was one of four players drafted into the starting lineup by Monk and he quickly caught the eye, teeing up Routledge for an early shot that David Marshall saved comfortably. The Cardiff goalkeeper was fully extended moments later, however, sliding in and brilliantly clawing the ball off Bony's toes as the Swansea striker advanced into the visitors' box.
Gradually Swansea's early fire burnt out and Cardiff began to find openings. Twice Craig Bellamy teed up Kenwyne Jones, but the former Stoke City striker could not find the target on either occasion, while Peter Whittingham worked Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm with a well-struck half-volley. Swansea roused themselves before half-time, Dyer drilling a low shot across goal, but Manchester United loanee Wilfried Zaha served a reminder of Cardiff's threat with an incisive run and wayward shot.
Monk elected to introduce Pablo Hernandez at half-time and it proved a masterstroke as the Spanish midfielder teed up the opening goal within two minutes of coming on. He used the outside of his right foot to stab a carefully weighted pass down the inside-left channel and Routledge drew Marshall from his line before planting a low shot inside the right-hand post.
Monk celebrated jubilantly, but the dangerous Bellamy almost silenced the crowd moments later when he sent a rasping drive against the crossbar from just outside the penalty area. Dyer twice threatened to add to Routledge's goal, bending a shot narrowly wide from 25 yards and then forcing Marshall to tip an effort over the bar.
Kim Bo-kyung gave Swansea a scare when he hooked a volley over the crossbar, but late headers from Dyer and Bony, teed up by Routledge and Hernandez, completed a dream coaching debut for Monk.