By Lee Dover | Premier League
Swansea City lived up to their nickname last season – flying high in the Premier League.
The Swans’ fans would have been forgiven for thinking they had a tough season ahead of them after they were thrashed 4-0 away to Manchester City in the first game of the 2011/12 campaign.
However, wins over some of the Premier League’s elite teams like Arsenal, Liverpool and a home win later against City fired Brendan Rodgers’ side to a comfortable mid-table finish in their first appearance in the Premier League.
The success and playing style of the Welsh team soon caught the attention of the big boys and Rodgers was soon heading north to take over at troubled Liverpool. It was left to Danish legend Michael Laudrup – lured from Madrid’s third club Getafe – to keep the top-flight dream alive at the Liberty Stadium.
Doubt in the Dane’s mind
The Dane had a wonderful honeymoon period in his new job, thrashing QPR 5-0 at Loftus Road before beating West Ham 3-0 a week later in his two opening games but it seems there was doubt even then in the Dane’s mind.
To start with two wins is great. We know things will not always be like that. I said last week there will be bad days, bad weeks and even a bad month.
Laudrup’s predictions came back to haunt him and since he forecasted darker days, Swansea have slumped to defeats against Aston Villa, Everton and Stoke City, while drawing at home with Sunderland and, most recently, Reading.
The Danish manager’s attitude has changed after this dire run as he explained to Sky Sports.
I think it’s difficult to describe how I feel right now. On one hand I can’t be satisfied with 2-2 at home to Reading but on the other hand, in the first 20 minutes we created three big chances.
The International break has offered Laudrup a breather but despite the club reporting a profit of £14.6m after their first season in the top-tier, rumours of a players’ revolt and secret meetings with the Chairman will soon come under the microscope again.
A series of meetings have been held between some of the Swans’ key players and the club’s chairman Huw Jenkins. The talks, which took place just before Swansea’s draw with Reading, were held without Laudrup’s knowledge but looked at the Dane’s management methods.
The experienced players at the Liberty Stadium were angered by Laudrup’s demand for the team to forget their tactical approach to playing football, something Rodgers had instilled in the squad as seen on the ‘Being Liverpool’ documentary on Channel 5 in recent weeks.
Swansea missing key players
Others complained that they are staying behind after training for extra sessions, fearing they are not as fit under the Dane as they were when Rodgers was in charge.
But to be fair to Laudrup – he did after all sign Michu for £2 million – Swansea’s starting XI for the 2012/13 Premier League is missing some key names.
Joe Allen following Rodgers out of the Liberty Stadium to Anfield rubbed salt in the wounds for Swansea while their formidable defence has been unbalanced by the Neil Taylor’s injury and the questionable signing of Chico Flores.
Its ‘Chico’ time just hasn’t had the same ring around South Wales so far this season as it did when pulling ratings in for ITV a few seasons ago
Rather than deny the meetings, Jenkins confirmed that talks have taken place.
As with any change in manager, particularly at a club who have been successful, it will take time to settle down. Everyone has a different approach and this is a normal issue for us after Brendan Rodgers went to Liverpool.
With Laudrup recently being afforded a breather and some time to gather his thoughts during the international break, the question will be how the Dane acts once he has his unhappy squad back on the training field?
Swansea fans are still upbeat about their team’s chances of more glory in the months ahead. In a poll for Vital Football, 63 per cent of the Swans’ faithful are confident that the club will finish between 11th and 17th once the dust has settled on this season’s campaign.
What’s more, 21 per cent feel that Swansea can break into the top 10 and find a cure for the difficult second-season syndrome that has affected so many promoted teams in the past, while two per cent are going as far as to start dreaming of a top-six finish and the prospect of European football come next season.
Regardless, fans packing into Liberty Stadium on Saturday will be looking for no less than three points when they entertain perennial relegation candidates Wigan Athletic.
Swansea fans will be looking for three points when they entertain perennial relegation candidates Wigan Athletic at Liberty Stadium this Saturday at 3pm.
The last time these two teams met – at the DW Stadium – the Welsh team left with a comfortable 2-0 win under their belt and the same scoreline is 17/2 in Paddy Power’s online betting this weekend.
Can Laudrup and the Swans take flight once more?