Swansea City took the liberty of sacking Michael Laudrup yesterday evening, just under a year on from their Capital One Cup victory over Bradford.
The 5-0 victory that day was the first piece of major silverware in the club’s history and meant the Welsh club would feature in this year’s Europa League.
The Swans currently lie 12th in the Premier League, though only two points above the relegation zone, remain in both the FA Cup, eliminating Manchester United in the process, and the Europa League, where they’ll take on Napoli in the round of 32.
In the grand scheme of things, you’d hardly describe times as worrying for a club who just 12 years ago, escaped relegation to the Conference on the final day of the season.
So for those who think the sacking of Laudrup was harsh, it wasn’t Swansea Chairman, Huw Jenkins’, fault, it’s just the done thing.
In the last seven years, Sir Alex Ferguson is the only League Cup winning manager to still be in the same job by the day of the following season’s final.
The winning managers are, or were, Jose Mourinho (2007), Juande Ramos (2008), Alex Ferguson (2009, 10), Alex McLeish (2011), Kenny Dalglish (2012) and now Michael Laudrup (2013)
Of these clubs, Chelsea, Tottenham, Man United, Birmingham, Liverpool and Swansea, it could be argued there is only two ‘surprise’ winners amongst the last seven, with the Swans being one of them.
Unfortunately for other surprise winners, Birmingham, they suffered relegation the same season they won the cup. McLeish kept his job despite however quit his post a few weeks after the final game of the season.
Mourinho left Chelsea after a spat with owner Roman Abramovich the following September, while Ramos and Dalglish were both ditched after poor runs of form. As such, there does feel a slight difference with this latest departure.
With the greatest respect to Swansea, clubs like Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool have higher aspirations. So poor runs of form or off-field problems are dealt with quicker, as success is expected instantly.
Which raises the question, what did Swansea as a club, and Huw Jenkins, expect after their first trophy win. To be challenging the top four? To have another cup in the cabinet? Or to have guaranteed Premier League safety by Christmas?
Laudrup has been unfortunate and stuck in some sticky situations. His best player of last season, Michu, has barely featured this year thanks to injuries, while his record signing, £12million Wilfried Bony, has had to try and carry the goalscoring burden on his own.
The Dane has a fairly small squad and contending with two games a week having to use the same players over and over can prove difficult and lead to fatigue-influenced performances.
Laudrup has continued to play to Swansea’s strengths this season, which has been so successful for them the previous two years. And as much as it may seem a goalscoring problem, they have scored more goals than any team in the bottom half.
Though they may sit only two points off 18th, they’re only one win away from 10th. With the bottom half being so tight, you’d have to say there are definitely three worse teams than Swansea who will fill the relegation places come May 11.
Sacking the club’s most successful manager, admittedly a tenuous title based on one trophy, is an odd decision based on performances and statistics alone, though the coming days may bring to light any behind-the-scenes reasons for the dismissal.
For now though it raises two questions. Firstly, who will Swansea look to bring in to fulfil the club’s ambitions Laudrup wasn’t meeting?
And secondly, which one of Gus Poyet or Manuel Pellegrini will have been handed his P45 by this time next year?
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