Swansea: Will Style Keep Them Safe?

Will Swansea escape Second Season Syndrome because their style of play is harder to 'work out'? If they can keep possession, they should keep their place...

Last Updated: 15/08/12 at 15:54 Post Comment

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Last Season:

Premier League 11th; FA Cup Fourth round; Carling Cup Second round

Manager Michael Laudrup (since 2012) Odds on being first out of his job 18-1 (10th)

Transfers in Chico (Genoa), Michu (Rayo Vallecano), Scott Tancock (Cardiff), Jon de Guzman (Villarreal) Transfers out Joe Allen (Liverpool)

The departure from the Costa del Tawe of Brendan Rodgers left Swansea with what on the face of it seems a major problem. But the board may beg to differ, arguing that they have replaced a key manager in the club's rise before - Roberto Martinez - and that a decade ago they were on the brink of the Conference and oblivion, sat in a decrepit Vetch Field. Now that is what a problem looks like and, though staying in the Premier League would be desirable, staying alive was a more important challenge and after that, other obstacles appear more superable.

As it is, Michael Laudrup is an inspired and potentially inspiring choice to succeed Rodgers, at a time when evolution rather than revolution is needed. The Dane, who almost went to Rodgers' new home as a player in the 80s, finally makes it to the English leagues as a manager a decade or so after younger brother Brian pitched up at Chelsea. Oddly, Michael missed Denmark's finest hour, the 1992 European Championship, because of a dispute with the coach, but Swansea have attracted an internationally famous name.

As a manager Laudrup has had a chequered run, in part because of disputes with boards. Nonetheless he has had success with Brondby in Denmark and creditable seasons with Getafe and Mallorca in trying circumstances.

Swansea have continued the Spanish connection with their summer signings. Michu will be pushing for the bargain of the season if he can come close to the 16 goals he scored for Rayo Vallecano. If Chico, who played under Laudrup at Mallorca, is a success or proves to be a Spanish Titus Bramble (in the defensive blunders sense) then he will be a gift to headline writers.

The problems start with the loss of the not-actually-Spanish-whatever-Brendan-Rodgers-says Joe Allen, thanks to some questionable contract exploitation by Liverpool. Gone, too, are loanees Gylfi Sigurdsson, who will have a lot more pressure at Spurs than he had at the Liberty, and Steven Caulker, both of whom made a significant contribution last season. Fending off any interest in Michel Vorm, who definitely made a better decision in summer 2011 than the Wolves buy Dorus de Vries, will be important.

On the plus side the players who remain are acclimatised to the Premier League now. Unlike physical approaches to which opponents gradually adjust and which they learn to negate, success based on actually playing football is harder to combat: if Swansea have the ball, you cannot score. Pressing could work but runs the risk of exposing you to a quick counter. Leon Britton, converted from his role as one of Margaret Thatcher's home secretaries, gave away as little as your average politician.

If there was a fault last season it was the lack of a gear change if the Swans went behind. But the hunt for a Plan B is both easier and less important if Plan A is sound.

Laudrup could certainly be facing a tougher introduction: not until October 27, at Eastlands, do Swansea face opposition from last season's top six. After kicking off at QPR, West Ham and Sunderland visit the Liberty and there are home games with Reading and Wigan in October.

If the squad remains intact then Laudrup should be able to keep the Swans buoyant ahead of tougher tasks in the winter months and disprove claims that City are prime candidates for second-season syndrome.

Philip Cornwall

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