Danny Graham and Michu Poised for Prolific Season at Swansea City
Just 45 seconds into Swansea City's Tuesday night friendly against Blackpool at the Liberty Stadium, Barry Ferguson, captain of Ian Holloway's swashbuckling side, attempted to play a back-pass to his keeper, Matt Gilks.
The pass never reached its intended target.
Swansea striker Danny Graham, scorer of 12 league goals last season, his first for the club (who coincidentally became the first Welsh side to crack the Premiership in the modern era), pounced upon the drifting pass and, after touching past Gilks, coaxed his shot into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
It was a near mirror image of the former Watford striker's goal against San Jose Earthquakes exactly one week ago.
In the final game of Swansea's America Tour, Graham had intercepted a wayward volley from Earthquakes left-back Ramiro Corrales, who had looked to play his pass to keeper Jon Busch.
But it lacked the requisite pace, allowing Graham to pick it out and, after nudging past the onrushing Busch, the forward slotted home from a dwindling angle to put his side up 1-0.
While that would prove the only goal he'd score on that sunny night in San Jose, Graham was far from finished in Swansea.
By the time he made way for Luke Moore in the 67th minute, he had completed a hat trick and propelled his side to a 4-1 advantage in what would end a 4-2 victory after Tom Ince converted a consolation penalty for Blackpool in the dying minutes.
In between his first and second scores, Graham turned provider—and for attacking midfielder/support striker Michu, to boot.
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In the 17th minute, Graham played a neat through ball for the tall Spaniard (he's 6'1"), who "coolly slotted past (Gilks)" from just inside the area, according to Swansea's official website.
Michu, who tallied 17 goals last season for Vallecano and was included alongside Graham on the preseason U.S. tour, has already shown an uncanny resemblance to another lanky attacking midfielder.
Like the Brazilian Kaka, Michu possesses a tremendous capacity to keep possession in the tightest of spaces.
When combined with his superb technique and an eye for goal, it's little wonder Michael Laudrup, named Swansea manager in mid-June, moved quickly to bring him into the fold.
Michu had been a revelation against San Jose. After starting somewhat slowly along with the rest of his team, he was involved in all of Swansea's excellent passing movements, which began to grow in force as the first half wore on.
Graham completed his hat trick with a 12-yard finish, after some excellent work from winger Nathan Dyer, and a tap-in after Gilks had spilled Dyer's effort in the second half.
It was little wonder that Laudrup professed he was "pleased" with the victory, played out in front of some 8,000 supporters.
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"I saw what I wanted," Laudrup told the club's official site. "We kept possession well, the three new players slotted in nicely and in some moments we played some really good football.
Laudrup was particularly happy with the finishing—notably the assortment of finishes by Graham—from his two attacking options.
"All three (of Graham's) strikes were different; he showed great composure for his second goal and it was also great for Michu to get a goal. Overall, I was pleased with what I saw."
After ending their preseason tour of America with that 2-2 draw against San Jose, the impressive win over Blackpool will have done last season's 11th-place league finishers a world of good, particularly with that Aug. 18 opener against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road coming thick and fast.
Allen, Sinclair and Taylor Back in the Fold
While Joe Allen's future at the club (he has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool) has dominated recent news, Laudrup confirmed in his post-match interview that the young Welshman will join his fellow Team GB teammates Scott Sinclair and Neil Taylor at training on Wednesday.
Swansea conclude their preseason preparations at the Liberty Stadium against VFB Stuttgart on Saturday.
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