Stylish, attractive, eye-catching, passing football was what Swansea were praised for last season, even dubbed by some as being Barcelona-lite – the Welsh side passed their way into 11th place in their very first season in the top flight since 1983. They became the very first side to fly the Welsh flag in the Premier League in the modern era and this season, as the Swans celebrate their centenary anniversary since their foundation this year.
A lot has changed at the Liberty Stadium since the end of the season, as Brendan Rodgers, despite initial signs that he would stay, has departed to the up the Liverpool manager’s job. Replacing him, is another man who fits the bill of his predecessors – Messrs Martinez, Souza and Rodgers – Michael Laudrup. His appointment has raised a few eyebrows because the ex-Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder is coup for the Swans. The Dane is famed for his brand of attacking football, which won him plaudits at Getafe and Mallorca, despite an ill-fated spell with Spartak Moscow in between. Laudrup should continue where Rodgers left off last season.
Swansea will begin the season with largely the same squad that finished last season. The only player to leave was Joe Allen, who has joined Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. Laudrup can certainly spot a bargain when it comes to the transfer market, with his canny purchase of Michu from Real Vallecano for around £2m, defender, Chico (aka Jose Manuel Flores) who was on loan with the Dane’s former side, Mallorca has also signed for the same fee, while Jonathan de Guzmán has arrived on loan from Villarreal – all of who are very sensible, progressive purchases that could certainly add something extra to Laudrup’s squad.
The Swans away form was a concern last season; it took them until mid-October to get their first point on the road, while their first away win didn’t come until the New Year on January 2nd and there were only three more for the remainder of the season. Laudrup will need to address this during the season and try to make Swansea harder to beat on the road. Home form was quite different, as Swansea were defeated just four times all season long, managing to beat Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City along the way.
This season could well be a baptism of fire for Laudrup, but his fits the mould of the club and of those that have gone before him. One concern would be that Swansea get found out this season, so to speak, clubs press them more when in possession. A threat of second-season syndrome shouldn’t loom too large over the Swansea, though. Maybe even a push for a top-half finish?
Opening five fixtures: QPR (A), West Ham (H), Sunderland (H), Aston Villa (A) and Everton (H)