He took over as a club legend departed to Anfield. He had to rebuild a squad that had lost three of their star players from last season. He has now guided Swansea City to their first major trophy since their formation 101 years ago and has cemented his status in the club’s history books. It is therefore unsurprising to learn that Michael Laudrup was being earmarked by the press as Jose Mourinho’s potential successor at his former club Real Madrid.
Both Laudrup and Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins laughed off suggestions that the former Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder would be lured away from the Liberty Stadium at the end of the year. Testimony to that came on Friday when it was announced that Laudrup had signed an extension to his contract keeping him at Swansea until 2015. Somehow though I don’t think this will really make any difference.
Everyone knows that Laudrup was an extremely gifted player; some would argue one of the best players technically to have ever played the game. Before he joined Swansea however his managerial ability was still up in the air. Successful spells with Brondby and Getafe were mixed with a tough time at Spartak Moscow and a relatively successful period with Mallorca. There can be no doubting now however that Laudrup has arrived as a manager.
When he was appointed manager it looked a more difficult job than some would imagine. The Swans had just lost manager Brendan Rodgers and midfield star Joe Allen to Liverpool. Scott Sinclair chose at the end of the window to move to Manchester City for big money whilst January impact signing Gylfi Sigurdsson had opted to move to Tottenham Hotspur following the end of his loan from Hoffenheim.
Laudrup was placing his faith in players that were untested in England but his signings have worked superbly. From Spain he has brought in Chico Flores, Pablo Hernandez, Jonathan de Guzman and of course Michu. The quartet have been irresistible this season and all played their part in helping Swansea capture the league cup. Michu has been the pick of the bunch and £2 million looks to be one of the best bargains in Premier League history.
Where does all this leave Laudrup though? He has injected new life into the squad and won the admiration of fans up and down the country. Does this mean he will stay and build a dynasty with Swansea? Unlikely, Laudrup is yet to stay at club for more than two seasons except during his spell at Brondby.
Huw Jenkins is an extremely clever chairman and an example to football clubs up and down the country. He has had to replace Paulo Sousa, Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers so you can be sure he has already earmarked Laudrup’s heir. In reality this new contract will probably only mean a slightly bigger compensation package for Swansea should a bigger club come in for their manager. It is a clever move from Jenkins who will now gain either way; if Laudrup moves Swansea will receive greater compensation and if no team wants to pay the compensation Laudrup will be at the Liberty for longer.
There can be doubt that the small team from Wales have been the story of the season and it is important to remember that last season most pundits were putting Swansea’s success under Rodgers as a one off.
No-one predicted that Laudrup would even come close to replicating Rodgers’ success with Swansea but yet there they are, just two points behind their old boss but they have stolen the single trophy he was trying to defend. It is only fair to Laudrup that Real Madrid are interested in his services and unfortunately for Swansea with Mourinho’s departure imminent, their approaches could be impossible to resist.
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