Nice to Michu: The Spanish Revolution of Swansea City
Swansea City's promotion and survival in the Premier League was not luck; all you had to do was watch them to see why.
Swansea, or Swanselona as they became known, had a beautiful passing game which adopted Barcelona's style of tika-taka football. With technical players of the likes of Leon Britton, Joe Allen, Nathan Dyer and Ashley Williams, Brendan Rodgers put together a team that could out-pass anyone on their day.
Scott Sinclair proved to be a fantastic player for the Welsh outfit, scoring 19 goals in 43 games for the club in the Championship and nine in the Premier League (counting the goal he scored this season).
Now just two years on and things have changed. There's a new man at the helm, ex-Barca and Real Madrid star Michael Laudrup, and a shake-up has occurred.
Key players such as Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair have left the club, for £15 million and £6.5 million, respectively, whilst a Spanish invasion has taken camp: Michu, an attacking midfielder with a good passing range for a bargain £2 million, Chico Flores for an initial £2.2 million and Pablo Hernandez, a very exciting dynamic winger (much like Sinclair) for another great deal at £5.5 million.
Other players brought in by Laudrup include Kyle Bartley, Itay Shechter and De Guzman on loan and pass-master Ki from Celtic. Whilst new players have been brought in, Laudrup has tweaked Swansea's passing game, making them pass higher up the pitch in the opponent's half.
This has worked wonders for the Welsh side, allowing Michu to have a free role behind Danny Graham and De Guzman and Britton having more space to pick out the correct player. The squad look very dangerous in front of goal, scoring 10 goals in three games in the league, with their new Spanish midfielder scoring four of them himself.
Laudrup has to be universally praised for his work at the club, evolving the philosophy that worked so well before yet keeping a familiarity and the same dynamics as previous regimes. Fans adore passing and pressing football, and Swansea are experts on the style.
After many key departures, including Brendan Rodgers himself, many predicted Swansea for a relegation dogfight, despite Laudrup's arrival.
Yet the new players (especially the Spanish players, who will be used to playing possession football) have mixed with the old guard emphatically, and with a defensive wall of Chico and Williams, a midfield dominated by Britton, Michu and De Guzman, and an attack of Graham, Hernandez and Dyer, the Premier League future of Swansea City looks to be in good shape.
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