Michael Laudrup has been sacked by Swansea City after a poor run of form that has left them in danger of losing their Premier League status, but the outgoing manager’s positive attributes should be enough to attract new employers.
Laudrup came and took the Premier League by storm by annihilating QPR 5-0 at Loftus Road in his first match in charge, earning plaudits for both his side’s attacking style of football and the players he had recruited who made an immediate impact. Laudrup was perhaps a forgotten name to many in England, as the former Barcelona and Rangers star plied his managerial trade in his native Denmark and Spain. However, he quickly became of the most popular managerial figures in recent memory thanks to his likeable personality, an open and honest style of analysis his team’s performance and his astute understanding of the English game.
Following Brendan Rodgers, who had guided Swansea to the Premier League for the first time in their history, Laudrup took up the mantle with a similar philosophy of attacking football built on the foundations of quick, triangular like passing. He also proved himself as one the shrewdest transfer window operators in recent times with a string of notable acquisitions including Michu, Ki and Jonathan De Guzman. The result was a team who captured the imagination of most of England and captured their hearts too when they went on to clinch the League Cup.
Securing Michu’s signature for £2m is now viewed as one of the greatest bargains of the modern era, as the striker racked up an extremely impressive return of 22 goals from 43 appearances- made all the more impressive from the fact that he is not universally recognised as an out-and-out striker. Laudrup came into Swansea armed with a portfolio of potential targets, all of whom were currently playing in La Liga.
Laudrup’s philosophy dictated that he felt it unnecessary to sign quality players at a premium price. Instead, he believed that quality could still be acquired at a reasonable price and identified the Spanish market as the place to raid to execute this plan. Michu proved to be a stellar signing, as did De Guzman, who was signed on-loan from Villarreal. Laudrup adapted quickly to the loss of Joe Allen to Liverpool by replacing him with the Dutchman who proved to be equally as effective in a defensive midfield role. He also brought in Chico Flores who has proven a key defensive player for the Swans in recent times, in spite of his impetuousity and lack of professionalism.
The 49-year old took what Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers had built and improved on it by respecting the newly engendered passing philosophy of Swansea whilst tweaking it in the manner he felt was best for continuous improvement. He maintained the vision of his predecessors but sacrificed a slight percentage of possession in favour of a more direct attacking style, one which increased goalscoring chances. It garnered him admiration, attention and plaudits and at one point it was rumoured that he was being courted by Chelsea and Real Madrid before they appointed Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti respectively.
Leading the Welsh club to the League Cup can be looked back on as one the more romantic tales in recent cup history, having knocked both Liverpool and Chelsea out en route to a historic win 5-0 thumping against Bradford City in the final. The idea of playing European football was laughable when Swansea were stuck in the non-league but Laudrup helped make it a reality by transforming a good side into a cup-winning side.
This season, however, has been a different story for Swansea and for their charismatic manager. His signings in the summer haven’t had quite the desired affect, especially compared to 12 months ago. Pozuelo, Shelvey and Wilfried Bony have all shown flashes of good form, but haven’t been able to prevent Seansea’s slide down the table. A 2-0 defeat to the hands of fellow strugglers West Ham has left Swansea only two points above the relegation zone and in desperate need of revitalisation.
However, there comes a time in football when sometimes a parting of ways is a sensible and feasibly solution to a club’s problems. It doesn’t always necessarily mean that the manager has done a bad job, as anyone who has watched Swansea in the last 18 months will argue the opposite. In fact, sometimes it just comes to pass that a good thing has run its course. That is exactly what has happened at Swansea. Laudrup produced a Swansea side that were exciting to watch through his managerial philosophy and it is that very philosophy that will mean he leaves the club in high demand.