There is something magically romantic about Michael Laudrup. There is also something magically romantic about Swansea. So, when Swansea’s chairman Huw Jenkins made an announcement that Swansea were about to sign Michael Laudrup, it was met with universal acclaim. It did not matter to anyone that the Dane hadn’t had a great managerial career till then. It was surprising to see everyone gushing about the appointment. Perhaps, this is that magical part about Laudrup and Swansea.
Laudrup’s appointment is a sort of transfer coup for the Wales club. The Dane is revered as probably the best player of the 90′s and having been praised beyond adjectives by his Barcelona and Real Madrid team mates, Swansea’s new manager brings a certain amount of respect and awe to the table in addition to his managerial prowess. Also, Laudrup’s fame precedes him and his signing has opened new doors of visibility for the Welsh club.To put things in perspective, think Andrés Iniesta; double his skills (drools) and you have Michael Laudrup*. It is no surprise that Iniesta called him the best player in history and his signature move La Croqueta was actually invented and perfected by the Dane.
Now, everybody from Spain to Denmark have started getting warmed up to the partnership between Swansea and the player who has been called one of the best ever by legends such as Cruyff, Platini, Beckenbauer, Guardiola, Romario and Raul.
Laudrup – Embodiment of Total Football
“My biggest influence has been Spanish and Dutch football, that Total Football idea,” said Rodgers when asked about his game play at Swansea. But in Laudrup, Swansea have a coach who has lived Total Football all his life. So, the transition from Rodgers to Laudrup is expected to be a smooth one for the Swans.
But, is it?
Laudrup’s managerial experience in La Liga and the Russian league isn’t very heart warming. But, his exploits with his boyhood club, Brondby, are impressive. More importantly, his preferred style of play has remained the same everywhere he went. It is true that Getafe under him nearly escaped relegation but the club was also fighting out on all three fronts – Copa Del Rey, Europa League and La Liga. According to Sid Lowe, with the management more concerned about the league, players about the Copa Del Rey and Laudrup about the UEFA cup, the collective spirit was missing at the end of the campaign. But, it can hardly be called as a failure.
Real Mallorca, when they signed him, were in administration and were kicked out of Europa League. Laudrup took charge and with a limited budget and average set of players kept them afloat, without compromising on his preferred style of play. And then, the board members had issues and petty fights which finally led to his resignation.
Thankfully at Swansea, Laudrup will be under an owner who loves Swansea with all his heart. His efforts to keep Swansea ticking are a model for clubs, especially those which Laudrup has managed recently. With the right owner behind him and non fussy management, focus on only the Premier League and a team which believes in his style of football, Laudrup has the best set up possible to succeed.
Clearly Michael Laudrup’s coaching philosophy is inspired from Johan Cruyff. In a interview he stated his admiration for the Dutch legend. “Sometimes I would think about what he said and it was so simple, so obvious,” Laudrup says. “But no one else said it.”
Great First Impressions and Positive Vibes
Laudrup’s first task at the new club was to tackle the departures of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Caulker and he handled it smoothly by signing De Guzman from Villarreal on loan and Chico from Genoa for a mere £2m. This showed his awareness of the situation as he replaced the players with nearly the same characteristics. This further enhances the belief that Laudrup is in complete control of the project. Also, his latest signing of Michu from Rayo Vallecano for £1.6m further highlights his intentions to play attacking football. With 15 goals last season, Michu was a delight to watch and the star of his team which played exhilarating football.
Under Rodgers, Swansea had a definite style but were less attacking. Laudrup’s style is more attacking. With more emphasis on ball movement and player mobility, Laudrup’s teams have always been admired for the way they behaved on the pitch.
Also, the resignation of Rodgers had triggered fears of player exodus from Swansea but the club acted admirably in signing Laudrup whose name itself has brought players rather easily to the club and has allayed any fears of player exodus. The rumors of Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen leaving the club are no longer a cause of concern because they will stay put or will be replaced suitably.
Swansea are also a club which have a distinct philosophy among all English clubs and this had put them in the spotlight. Their first season in the Premier League has been impressive and this puts extra pressure on Laudrup to deliver. But, Laudrup is no stranger to pressure. He has actually mastered pressure.
The greatest Dane ever to play football has other great attributes in him. He is articulate and is very simple in his talk. He hates to complicate matters and looks to simplify things. His team talks are short, sweet with clear instructions. He encourages players to express themselves and refuses to clip their wings.
In every way, it looks as if Swansea could not have chosen a better coach than Laudrup. But, it remains to be seen if Laudrup can finally fulfill his potential as a coach. He was always expected to be a great coach because of his understanding of the game. Swansea fans will be hoping that the expectation becomes reality at their club.
* – For people who doubt this statement, please click here. 83 minutes of pure genius.