Roberto Martinez was the captain of Swansea, the day they fought for survival in the Football league, in 2003. After a crucial victory over Hull City on the final day of the season, Martinez suggested Swansea City could play top flight football. The media-persons had a chuckle or two, presumably forgiving the Spaniard’s sentimental innocence. In the very same interview Martinez also suggested that the job of Brian Flynn (the then Swansea boss), was tougher than Real Madrid’s then-manager Vicente Del Bosque, drawing a roar of laughter from everyone in attendance. With a childish smile, he said “All he has to do is inform Ronald, Zidane and Raul what time kick off-is“. Chirpy and funny indeed, till his prophecy actually came true. Here we are, almost a decade later and one of the Real Madrid supremos of yesteryears, Michael Laudrup will be informing the kickoff timings to the Swansea players.
Michael Laudrup, the golden boy of Danish football and arguably the best footballer of the 90′s, has signed a 2 year contract at the Liberty Stadium. The appointment is a proof that Swansea City A.F.C are moving in the right direction. Appointing the Dane, might appear to be a gamble, especially after his previous managerial stints in Spain and Russia, proved to be not so successful. Despite this, the boldness and ambition is quite evident. The club has never had a “big name” in their ranks, and have maintained a very pragmatic approach, at the board level, as well as on the pitch. The greatest compliment to their excellence over the past half-a-decade was when Liverpool came calling for their manager, and Brendan Rodgers decided to move to Merseyside. That is where Michael Laudrup comes into the picture.
Laudrup took almost a year out of football after spells at Getafe, CSKA and Mallorca, and had said he would wait for the right opportunity to arrive. This was exactly the opportunity he might have referred to. Laudrup has long been an admirer of England and the English footballing culture, and the brand of football Swansea have played in the past few years, must have caught his eye. His Getafe team earned plaudits for their attractive style and there is a striking similarity between the situation at the two clubs. Getafe president, Mr. Angelo Torres also believed in hiring young and relatively fresher faces, giving them an opportunity to express themselves, just like the Swansea City board. There, Laudrup not only developed a team that played expansive football, but organised them into a disciplined defensive unit. That is exactly what the Swans fans would be hoping to see, looking to avoid second-season syndrome.
But there are fears that this could yet turn out to be a risk too far. Most fans are jubilant with the arrival of a big name, but remain skeptical about his managerial prowess. He has yet to prove himself as a successful manager. He would like to bring his own staff, and some fresh faces, despite not having a sufficient amount to spend. His knowledge of the existing players is also being questioned by the doubters, but that is something one just learns with time. The ongoing transfer saga of Gylfi Sigurdsson is another thing Michael will need to address at the earliest. But having said all that, the stature of Laudrup as a player is likely to make him an instant crowd favourite among the Swansea faithful.
For all it’s pro’s and con’s, the appointment is a step in the right direction for the club located in Wales. With the recruitment of Laudrup, they have truely put themselves on the map. The chairman, Huw Jenkins recently commented, “We have developed a new respect in world football“, after negotiating a successful first season in the Premier League. Michael Laudrup might just add to the growing reputation.