El Centrocampista

Laudrup looks to continue the Swansea City success story

From Roberto Martinez to Paulo Sousa to Brendan Rodgers, Swansea fans are used to playing the continental way. With Rodgers leaving for Liverpool, the Welsh side were looking for a new manager to continue their attractive style of football that has seen them shoot up the English league pyramid and into the Premier League. Just like Martinez, the new man finds that his footballing reputation is buried in Spain.

Michael Laudrup has been appointed the new manager at the Liberty Stadium and is seen as the perfect man to continue the brand of football that has become synonymous with Swansea City over recent years. Whilst their position in the Premier League table is an incredible achievement for a club who were playing in the fourth tier of English football as recently as 2005, the appointment of a world renowned figure like Laudrup is quite possibly more of a testament as to how far this club has come in such a short space of time.

During the 80’s and 90’s, Laudrup made his name as one of the finest midfielders in world football. He became a darling of the Camp Nou faithful at Barcelona for five seasons, only to have a spectacular bust up with Johan Cryuff and off he went – to fierce rivals Real Madrid. Whilst the move wasn’t at the magnitude of Luis Figo’s highly publicised switch to the Bernabeu, some Barcelona fans still won’t forgive Laudrup for making the contemptible move to Madrid.

Having cut his teeth in management in his home country with Brondby, he made his return to La Liga as Madrid based Getafe made the bold move to appoint him. The club reached the Copa Del Rey final and the quarter final stage of the UEFA Cup in Laudrup’s solitary season at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, as the Dane resigned at the end of the season. A number of clubs were interested in Laudrup from across Europe but he decided to head to Russia, where he became Spartak Moscow manager.

Laudrup’s time in Moscow was an unhappy one, as just four wins in 14 games led to the sack after just seven months, and Laudrup’s previously burgeoning reputation had taken a big hit. His next move was slightly curious, but gave Laudrup what he had craved – a return to Spain.

Mallorca were a club in financial turmoil. The team were seconds away from Champions League qualification in the 2009/10 season, only for Sevilla to steal their place in the final minute of the season. The repercussions were hard on the Islanders as players were sold and Gregorio Manzano took the Sevilla job. Laudrup decided it was the job for him and managed to keep them up in his first year under testing circumstances.

His second year was always going to be harder after the sale of star playmaker Jonathan de Guzman to Villarreal, but the relationship between Laudrup and the board at San Moix became strained and led to rumours of Laudrup wanting to leave the club. Eventually Laudrup did leave after the club sacked his assistant Erik Larsen for criticising the club’s organisation.

Which brings us to Swansea. Laudrup has his doubters – when Mallorca hit bad form he sometimes struggled to bring the best out of his players and he’s already earned a reputation of being something of a nomad – four years with Brondby were followed by short spells at his next three clubs. What you can’t question is that Laudrup fits the mould of a Swansea manager. Swansea have been embedded in a 4-3-3 system for years now, and Laudrup has frequently used a similar formation over his career. Laudrup loves techncially gifted players who can keep the ball on the deck and entertain fans.

Despite being one of the nice guys of football, Laudrup comes with a somewhat damaged reputation. With the groundwork already in place, the Dane may just prove his doubters wrong at the Liberty Stadium and continue this successful period in Swansea City’s history.

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