I’d hardly say I went on an aggressive campaign to ensure Michael Laudrup ended up in the Premier League, but there was certainly a good level of questioning as to why he was being overlooked. Swansea, however, have taken the gamble, and although Laudrup didn’t coach any of the bigger clubs in Spain, his appointment is a great move for the Welsh side.
It’s important to understand that Laudrup will continue in a similar manner to the tactics Brendan Rodgers implemented last season. Passing football and, above all, greatly punching above their weight will be the mark of Laudrup on this team. There should hardly be concerns over “second season syndrome,” either. After all, this is a new manager with new players—it’s hardly the same team to warrant that level of concern. However, as mentioned, it is a team with different figures in key areas, and Laudrup will be under the microscope for a large part of the season. Relegation needs to be avoided, but the new manager will be compared to the successes of Rodgers last season.
What has been pleasant to see is Laudrup’s preference for dipping into the talent pool of La Liga. Jonathan de Guzman will arrive at the club, sure to take on a big role in the midfield. The former Villarreal player has had a patchy career in Spain, with his performances for Mallorca (with Laudrup initially in charge) showing what an excellent box-to-box player he can be. He’ll get up and down the pitch with ease, asserting himself particularly in the opposition half. His time at Villarreal, however, was a horrible patch on what could still turn out to be a bright career. The Yellow Submarine were switching managers constantly, with tactics and the use of de Guzman changing as the revolving door continued to spin. Needless to say, he needed a move away from El Madrigal for this upcoming season and Laudrup has rightly placed faith in him once again.
Most exciting for the club, however, is the arrival of Michu from Rayo Vallecano. Laudrup is clearly not lost on the importance of the Swansea midfield. And while Gylfi Sigurdsson has taken his goals and contributions to another club, Michu will be seen as a more than suitable replacement.
The midfielder, who could have been part of Spain’s Euro 2012 squad this summer, has a knack for getting in the box and showing up in areas where you’d normally expect to find a striker. He has a great drive about him, too, willing his team forward so much so that he became a cult hero at his last club. Like with Laudrup, the acquisition of Michu is a huge coup for the club moving forward. Once a player linked with Manchester United, Laudrup will now be looking for Michu to build upon his 15 league goals last season.
For Laudrup, there will need to be a period of acclimatisation to the Premier League. He has the coaching ability to do well with smaller clubs, but evidently La Liga is a wholly different league to English football, and there will be a lot of expectations placed upon him that he may be unfamiliar with. But maybe Swansea, like Mallorca and Getafe, will prove to be another good fit for the manager. The spotlight won’t be as great as it is at bigger clubs, and he will be afforded the time to have a lasting impact at the club.
The big challenge will be to avoid relegation, as Rodgers managed to establish Swansea as a club well above the dog fight of the relegation battle. So far, Laudrup is making the right moves; his experience and knowledge from the giants of European football should do much for the Welsh club and their bid to cement a long stay in the top flight of English football.