A look at Michael Laudrup’s Swansea

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There are teams in football that are not appreciated. They don't win
week in and week out and to the untrained eye don't appear to be very
good. Other teams play horrible football, it is a means to an end as
opposed to a tactic and style that inspires hope for the future of
football. We can all agree on that and for the most part, it is stating
the obvious.


Of the former, Swansea are a perfect example. Michael Laudrup is
developing a team of footballers that attempted the most passes (621) in
the premier league on saturday which included performances by
Pellegrini's City, Villas Boas' Spurs and Wenger's Arsenal. City were
closest with 551 attempted passes.

Watching Swansea's 2-1 defeat to Arsenal made a few things very clear,
they refused to lump it forward as other teams might have done having
gone behind to a revitalized Arsenal side. They played keep ball, passed
the ball around and made Arsenal work extremely hard. Their full backs
waited for opportune moments to move forward to collect balls when the
wide men had pulled infield, taking the opposite man with them.

In Michael Laudrup, Swansea have a man who is one of many men influenced
heavily by, arguably, the inventor of modern football, Johan Cryuff. He
was a Barcelonista and a major part of Cryuff's dream team in the early
90's. He is destined for massive things as a football coach and the
project at Swansea is an example of introducing enjoyable football with
limited resources.

On Saturday, yet again, Laudrup and Swansea were foiled by what looks
like an excellent Southampton side who don't concede goals. However,
some stats do stand out. Of the top five passers of the ball on
saturday, 4 of them were Swansea players with only Morgan Schneiderlin
sneaking into the top 5 from the opposition.

Cañas(69 attempted passes), Shelvey (59), Rangel (53), Davies (53) and
Schneiderlin (47).


As if that wasn't enough, Swansea dominated in the attacking third
passing sector aswell. all 5 of the top 5 were Swansea players. Rangel
leading the way with 21 of an attempted 23.

Swansea also led in attempted shots with 17 as opposed to Southampton's
12. Perhaps efficient shooting is where Swansea need to improve with 7
of them not even troubling the goalkeeper.

It is also a testament to Laudrup that a team who currently lie 15th in
the Premiership have a player in Michu who has been called up to the
current Europen and World Champions of football. He also kept him at the
Liberty Stadium this summer with a host of different clubs sniffing
around for his signature.

A few more examples of Laudrup's influence? The goal that Ben Davies
scored against Arsenal was reminiscent of a goal scored by the Kings of
the Camp Nou. A meandering run into the box by Davies, head up, neat
one-two with Wilfried Bony and the end result was Davies pretty much
walking the ball into the net. It was neat tight passing that you don't
generally see from English teams when they are 2-0 down.

Another example is the signing of Jonjo Shelvey. Okay, he is not cut
from the same silk as Messi, Xavi or Iniesta but he has an ability to
throw the ball around effortlessly and see the final pass. Although his
temperament has been questioned, his quality was evident against
Liverpool earlier in the season. Liverpool, a team who had not conceded
prior to the two sides' meeting were opened up by Shelvey in the opening
minutes. He also had an assist on a well worked goal that day too.

They won't win the Champions League and won't ever receive the credit
they probably deserve but when Laudrup goes on to great Eureopean nights
as a manager, we can look back to his time at Swansea and begin to
understand how he believes football should always be played, regardless
of resources.

-Robbie Dunne
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