Laudrup’s sacking is just what Swansea needed

Swansea sacked Laudrup after six defeats in eight league games

Swansea sacked Laudrup after six defeats in eight league games

That title’s a bold statement, isn’t it? Michael Laudrup’s sacking has already been ham-fistedly squeezed into that conservative, I-desperately-want-to-appear-reasonable-and-not-reactionary narrative based on the increasingly prevalent and influential myth that football managers always deserve more time.

 

Swansea City v Cardiff City Betting Odds

Swansea to win – 1.70

Draw – 3.50

Cardiff to win – 4.75

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The argument is that after winning the League Cup last year, the Dane deserved more than a few months to turn around Swansea’s poor run of form, and that he would eventually have guided them out of trouble. It’s a perfect line for anyone who wants to be outraged about any Premier League managerial sacking – those people who lurch from “he has to go NOW” when boards aren’t making a decision to “he shouldn’t have gone” when they do. This often seems to have more to do with personality, perceived intelligence and the attractiveness of the football than actual empirical evidence.

Laudrup is a perfect example of this. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, is a charismatic and intelligent man, has Won Things (compare this with some of the criticism of David Moyes at Manchester United), and has been successful at continuing Swansea’s style of possession football which is generally considered to be “attractive” and positive.

 

But much like Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham, this is largely based on fantasy. Swansea have been awful this year. They don’t play attractive football – they pass it around continuously, mindlessly and tediously with very little spark. More to the point, they are only two points above the relegation zone and have lost the same number of games as West Ham, whose manager Sam Allardyce has recently faced a barrage of criticism from the media. Laudrup’s overall record is little better than that of Paul Lambert’s at Aston Villa. Moreover, he has close ties with his agent Bayram Tutumlu, and problems in the summer between Tutumlu and the club nearly led to Laudrup’s departure.

Any other manager in this situation, particularly if he was of the ilk of Allardyce – stereotypically English in personality and style of football – would be facing media pressure and criticism. A form of snobbery seems to have developed among football opinionistas: the exotic is greater than the down-to-earth, or “Manager X must be good because he’s foreign and tries to play football The Right Way, but Manager Y can’t be good because he’s English, plays 4-4-2 and shouts a lot”.

 

I don’t mean this as anti-intellectualism, nor do I believe that English managers are better. The point is it shouldn’t come down to nationality: a good manager is a good manager, regardless of his place of birth, playing career or accent. Foreign managers can be crap too. The English national team might not be very good but that doesn’t mean English football should plunge into a period of extreme self-loathing.

But the stereotypes remain. Whoever replaces Laudrup will now face the same problem in trying to convince football writing’s self-appointed intellectual elite as Tim Sherwood at Tottenham, especially if interim head coach Garry Monk, an English no-nonsense mid-Football League centre-half who rose to the Premier League with the team as captain, is handed long-term charge of the team. He will face that snobbery if the Swans don’t pick up results immediately.

 

Luckily, it seems Swansea fans are more receptive than the media. It is the outsiders and not them who are criticising the sacking of Laudrup. The fans trust their board, who have been patient, stuck to their philosophy and made perceptive decisions virtually every time they appointed someone. The fans have watched their team and seen them decline. They followed the summer problems when it looked like Laudrup would ditch the team for a bigger club who would accommodate his ego and his agent.

They will also be aware that Laudrup’s effectiveness has been short-term at every club he has managed at: immediate success, before a rapid decline and a departure under a cloud. The problem is Swansea has become a popular club in the media for their values and their style of football, and Laudrup has been the figurehead of this, even though this was a process begun under Kenny Jackett and continued under the leadership of Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa and Brendan Rodgers.

This weekend they play Cardiff, with whom their explosive relationship is well-documented. The first top flight derby between the two clubs ended with the Bluebirds Red Dragons coming out on top in one of the most appalling games of football we will see this season (You clearly haven’t watched much of West Ham – ed.). Swansea were terrible, Cardiff were barely any better, and there wasn’t even any of the classic derby violence that we expect from and secretly hope for in such an encounter. With Laudrup at the helm, it was difficult to see anything other than this again – another tepid, uninspiring affair with the two sides more afraid to lose than desperate to win.

 

It’s a cliché, but Cardiff wanted it a little bit more that day. They are the club in this relationship with the chip on their shoulder at the moment. Arguably the main reason for some fans allowing Vincent Tan’s Glorious Revolution to take place was Swansea: their top flight status, their trophy, their popularity with the neutrals. Cardiff fans cannot stand seeing Swansea be successful. That certain supporters would be willing to trade in their history and traditions to get back at Swansea shows the ferocity of the rivalry between the two clubs.

A win for Cardiff in the Liberty Stadium would be enormous. Their win over Norwich last weekend ended a run of seven games without victory, though it had been a tough run of fixtures against the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchesters City and United. To add a derby victory to this crucial win would give them serious momentum heading into a very winnable series of games: they play Villa, Hull and Fulham within the next four outings.

 

It would also be another huge blow for Swansea, who must now be considered relegation rivals. Remarkably, neither side has ever completed a league double in the fixture, and Cardiff have only won once in Swansea in the last 16 years. While a win for Cardiff will give them fresh impetus at a time when some have already written them into the first relegation spot, a defeat for Swansea might prove disastrous. That, in some way, explains the decision the Swansea board have made. If they had stuck with Laudrup, defeat was likely; choosing to make a change gives them a much greater chance of fending off Cardiff’s challenge.

 

Betting Instinct Tip – Despite their poor recent form, Swansea won their last home league game 2-0 against Fulham. Another 2-0 win on Saturday is 8.60 with GR88.com.

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Sports blogger JamesJAMES BENNETT (James) is a History MPhil/PhD student, who writes about soccer, Formula 1 and the NFL in his spare time to pay for his studies. He is also a Torquay United fan. He publishes articles in his sports blog, and you can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Man City Favoured to Top the EPL as 2014 Begins

 

Samir Nasri finds the net in a 3-0 City win over Swansea earlier this season.

Samir Nasri finds the net in a 3-0 City win over Swansea earlier this season.

The second half of the Premier League season kicks off this New Year’s Day with the clash of Swansea and Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium with the visitors knowing that they can go top of the league if they avoid defeat in this match. City would prefer to win this game to give themselves a two point gap over Arsenal, who face Cardiff in a 3pm kickoff, and give themselves the best chance at staying top should the Gunners slip up at The Emirates, but will they be able to do so having failed to win either of their two Premier League visits to the Liberty Stadium or even score a goal?

GR88.com certainly believe that the 2011/12 Premier League winners can win this match as they lean towards the away win in the opening match of 2014, but with City missing their injured top scorer Sergio Aguero and suspended David Silva for this game can they live up to their favourites billing and go to the summit of the league table?

Swansea v Man City Odds:

Home Victory – 5.00

Level at Full Time – 3.80

Away Win – 1.61

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Even though they are odds-on favourites to win this match I feel that City offer plenty of value in this Swansea v Man City game as they are in outstanding form both in general and away from home now that they have overcome their away day teething troubles under Manuel Pellegrini. They struggled at the start of the season away from the Etihad Stadium as they defeated only Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow in the Champions League as well as West Ham in the EPL in their first nine away games of the season. Since then though they have turned things around nicely and they have found the net on 14 occasions as they have won four and drawn one of their last five away games, including beating Champions League winners Bayern Munich in German. They only issue that I can see with City’s away form is that they are not tight enough defensively with eight conceded in their last five away trips and just one clean sheet in 11. Will their attacking abilities see them through this Swansea v Man City game though?

Swansea’s recent form does not make happy reading for fans of the Welsh club as they are without a victory in seven matches and at home they have claimed just five wins in 14 games, with three of those coming in the early stages of their Europa League campaign. In the Premier League they have defeated only Sunderland and Newcastle but on the other side of things they have lost just once in their last six Premier League games at the Liberty Stadium. The two wins against the Tyne and Wear derby combatants are joined by draws against West Ham, Stoke and Hull while their last home match saw them edged out by the impressive Everton.

Armed with this reasonable home record of late and two clean sheets in two matches against City in Premier League clashes at the Liberty Stadium can Swansea upset the odds in the first match of this new year and dent Man City’s chances at reclaiming their Premier League title? I am not convinced as this City side does not know how to stop scoring goals with an average of almost three goals a game this season in the league. I:see City outstripping this Swansea side in front of goal and cruising to an easy win as they begin 2014 in the same fashion that they ended 2013.

Back Man City to beat Swansea by at least two goals (Man City -0.75) and return to the top of the Premier League @ 1.77 in the GR88 Sportsbook!

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.