Michael Laudrup’s Spanish brigade and the white duckling
Creating beautiful triangles at the centre of the pitch, passing around the opponents until they give up and stand off, and finally creating the perfect goal for an attacker who perfectly breaks the offside trap; these were the traits that were associated to a certain club in Catalonia.
Right from the torch-bearers of the club in Cryuff to his current day avatar in Guardiola, it is widely accepted that the tiki-taka flows through the veins of this football club. And lo behold, within a matter of a couple of seasons, we have a club newly promoted to the English Premier League, who though not having a distinguished history of allocates, are now seen religiously practising the rituals of the so-called sect.
While Arsenal and more recently Spurs have been acclaimed to be playing the beautiful game, the North Londoners are quite often seen to change tactics in accord to the situation. But that definitely is not the case with the Swans of Wales; Swansea, or ‘Swansealona’ as they are now called, have been seen following orders regarding their style even in tightest of situations, which has in hindsight often lead to their downfall in the game.
Pep Guardiola had famously said after winning the CL in 2010 against Manchester United that “midfielders are a superior breed” according to him, and this allows him to play them in most of the positions on the field. This saw the rise of Fabregas as an attacker, Mascherano as a Central defender and Iniesta as an inverted winger.
Guardiola’s playing career at Barca pretty much coincided with Michael Laudrup’s time at the club, and from the Dane’s tactics until this point, it seems that the duo have been instilled with the same mentality.
While up to this point this article might seem to be a comparison between the club that won the La Liga with a club that finished eighth in the EPL, this writing expedition is just a look into Swansea’s mentality of football and Laudrup’s tactics in the transfer market.
First of all, right from the lips of a graduate from Barcelona’s team B under Guardiola, new signing Chico Flores says: “Laudrup is a great coach and very similar to Guardiola. He knows what he wants in a locker room.”
Here lies the making of a manager whose playing career saw people like Guardiola and Raul call him the best they have ever played with. And yes this bloke played for both Barca and Real Madrid.
Swansea’s last season might have been their best in their history, but the club’s management had taken several big risks at the start of their romantic journey.
Brendan Rodgers’ exit meant that Swansea had lost the man who won them more than just a promotion in his tenure and had established, with little help from Roberto Martinez, a typically attractive but risky brand of football.
Even though the club had ensured that the Irishman does not take away any of the stars from the team, Liverpool and Rodgers were able to frisk away Joe Allen. Allen was easily Swansea’s shining light of the 2011-12 season, but his debut season at Liverpool was far from ditto; an analogy I often use for most of Arsenal’s departed stars.
Though Allen’s departure was down to a few financial crunches, there were a few more tactical and injury-related changes that would have surely affected any normal club. Laudrup’s somewhat surprising arrival coincided with Michu’s entry at the club, but the credit for the transfer surely goes to the club management in this regard.