Swansea City have decided to part ways with manager Michael Laudrup ahead of the latest South Wales derby against Cardiff City. The Swans selected Garry Monk to take over coaching duties.
After a couple days of speculation, Swansea made the announcement on their official site. Chairman Huw Jenkins explained the decision was needed to bring stability to the club, a conclusion he reached after meeting with Laudrup:
I had a meeting with Michael today in a final attempt to support him and establish a way to improve the work of the backroom team to secure the results we need over the final 14 Premier League games.
However, after thinking long and hard about the best way forward, I felt it was unlikely we would achieve a stable environment at the club to allow us to get back to basics and produce the performance levels that have served Swansea City so well over the last few years.
Swansea are currently in 12th place in the Premier League table. However, due to the narrow race at the bottom of the standings, that leaves them only two points clear of the relegation zone. Rivals Cardiff are only three points back heading into the weekend clash.
Laudrup released a statement on the decision on Thursday, according to the South Wales Evening Post:
I am deeply disappointed to have been dismissed as manager of Swansea City.
"In particular, the manner in which it happened and the actions the club has taken since notifying me in the briefest of letters which gave no reasons why such hasty and final action was deemed necessary.
"I am, of course taking legal advice and the LMA have already written to the club asking for a proper explanation as to why I was summarily dismissed.
"Until we receive the response I am unable to say any more about the termination but I do want to take this early opportunity to thank the Swansea City fans for their continued support and say it has been an honour to manage this great football club.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time managing in the Barclays Premier League which I consider to be the one of the best leagues in world football.
"I leave the club proud of our collective achievements over the past 20 months and I believe we have continued the club's progression in the manner of my predecessors including Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers.
"Of course the obvious highlight during my time in charge was leading Swansea to the first major trophy in the club's history in winning the Capital One Cup at Wembley, resulting in European qualification.
"In addition, our ninth place in the Barclays Premier League was our highest finish in 31 years and the second highest in the club's 102-year history which again is something which fills me with pride.
"This season we have all enjoyed the memorable journey in the Europa League where the team will soon face Napoli in the last 32 of the competition.
"The club has informed me that I cannot visit the training ground to say my farewells to the players so I do that now through this statement.
"The players have been fantastic and their contribution under the very professional guidance of my coaching staff has been absolutely fundamental to the club’s recent successes. Three members of my staff have also been dismissed.
"Whilst league results have been disappointing of late, we are still 12th in the table and it is there for all to see the fine margins in the league this season in terms of points that separate 11 clubs.
"Although we have been unfortunate with injuries, I believe our league form would have improved and that we would have benefited from the forthcoming Europa League and FA Cup matches.
"I wish the club the very best for the future and for the rest of the season in the Barclays Premier League, Europa League and the FA Cup."
News of the coaching change comes after Riath Al-Samarrai of the Daily Mail reported there was a disconnect between the club and the coaching staff. Lackluster training sessions and the impact they had on matches was one of the main complaints:
Laudrup's current staff of Erik Larsen, Morten Wieghorst and Oscar Garcia are understood to have drawn private criticism from their employers at Swansea.
In particular, there have been complaints that training lacks intensity, while shortly after Laudrup was employed—and before Wieghorst was appointed—there were grumbles from within the camp about the side's preparation for games.
Based on Jenkins' comments, the club gave one final effort to rectify the situation for the stretch run of the campaign before opting to move in another direction. Doing so at this point in the season—especially with a rivalry match coming up—certainly presents some risk.
Monk steps into the fire after a long career as a defender, the last decade of which he spent with Swansea. He should know better than just about anybody else the importance of rivalry games and should have no trouble getting the side mentally prepared.
Whether the move will translate into success is a major question mark. Monk has plenty of experience as a leader on the pitch, but this will be a new challenge for him.
But Swansea clearly felt it was a better option than maintaining the status quo until season's end.