Michael Laudrup's "Fragile Four": Will Monk, Dobbie, Gower ,Orlandi Survive ?
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Pre-season friendlies can so often be viewed as a detective would regard a crime scene—clues, indicators—who did it, who didn’t do it, and most certainly who won’t be doing it any more.
Such was the case with Swansea’s 4-2 win over Blackpool last week, which threw up a quartet of familiar names one could justifiably deduce as standing under Laudrup’s Danish sword of Damocles. So, let’s conduct the identity parade and attempt to pass verdict on the fragile four.
1. GARRY MONK.
The former Southampton centre-back’s been an outstanding back four general for the Swans since Kenny Jackett rescued him from administration a Barnsley in 2004. A consummate reader of the game, he battled back from a potentially career-threatening cruciate ligament injury at Scunthorpe to re-affirm himself as leading team-sheet pick while Swansea glided up the Divisions through to Wenbley’s destiny day in May 2010 and through the Promised Land’s executive doorway.
For Monk though, those promises became frustratingly half-visible visions. His honed defensive alliance with Ashley Williams was splintered by the accomplished season-long loan stay of Spurs’ Stephen Caulker.
On the few occasions he was given a starting role, a lack of one extra yard of pace both in turn and thought seemed absent as never before. With Laudrup’s signing of Chico Flores, the stay/go verdict on Monk would have t be a narrow—GO
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Next of the non en-vogue quartet is
2. Mark Gower.
Bought by Roberto Martinez as a goal-scoring winger from Southend in 2008, the first part of that description quickly fell by the wayside. Despite posts and crossbars being hit and goalkeepers having days as superheroes the Gower goal drought remained.
However as the dugout blended through Martinez, Sousa and Rodgers, something the former Spurs trainee could never be impugned for was lack of effort. “Mr 110 %” became a more holding midfielder under Rodgers. But in an EPL where the old perspiration /inspiration equation for success is reversed by a significant percentage, Gower’s fingerprint on games became progressively less. As a result, like Monk, his future looks set to be ultimately stamped with a GO.
At risk Candidate number three—
3. Andrea Orlandi
Part of the Spanish package introduced by manager Martinez in 2008 alongside Senors Rangel, Gomez and Pintado, the stylish wide-man cum midfielder was rarely allowed the chance to shine. Firstly via a congested and successful first team line up and secondly an untimely and extended injury.
Selected with reasonable regularity by manager Rodgers for EPL duty, performances such as that away to Wolves leave an impressive imprint. But with the direction currently being ploughed by boss Laudrup, while the heart says STAY, the mind’s overall logic falls slightly and sadly on the side of a GO
And so to our fourth and final suspect under the microscope,
After much serious thought, Martinez and Assistant Graham Jones headhunted the Scotsman as the ideal replacement for Jason Scotland, whose 20 plus goals had so illuminated the side’s impressive Championship season #1. Unfortunately though, Roberto’s departure for Wigan heralded a period of unfortunate misuse/isolation for Dobbie. Paulo Sousa’s obsession with employing the aging and increasingly injury-prone Gorka Pintado saw the absurd anomaly of 7th placed Swansea scoring less goals than that year’s 3 relegated teams. While Dobbie’s invention and goalscoring ability during a loan spell at Blackpool helped fire Ian Holloway’s Tangerines through the aforementioned EPL gates with a true panache sustained through much of their flamboyant campaign in the EPL.
For Dobbie though life back at the Liberty again had a Groundhog Day frustration. Another loan to Blackpool, another play-off at Bloomfield Road, but another closed Liberty Stadium door for the man with a sharp eye to unlock an opening. Even if it’s as an ‘impact player’ from the bench, all logic screams that for this northern Celt it surely HAS to be a STAY.
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