Swansea City dropped an absolute bombshell on Tuesday night, as news broke that they'd decided to part company with revered manager Michael Laudrup.
The Dane joined the club at the beginning of the 2012-13 season and led them to ninth place in the Premier League, their highest finish ever in the top division's current format.
He also guided the club to its first piece of silverware—the Capital One Cup—by beating Bradford City 5-0 at Wembley in February.
Signings such as Ki Sung-Yueng, Pablo Hernandez, Chico Flores, Jonathan de Guzman and Michu became key starters for the side and Laudrup stayed true to the Swans' footballing philosophy—sparked by Paulo Sousa and Roberto Martinez, continued by Brendan Rodgers and developed in the cup-winning season.
The Dane entered the the current campaign with Europa League football, a star signing in Wilfried Bony and an optimistic fanbase at his side...but things took a turn for the worse in so many ways.
The footballing world reeled in shock when chairman Huw Jenkins decided to cut ties with the Barcelona legend, but upon closer inspection, it appears very much the correct choice.
Swansea's insipid 2-0 loss to West Ham United last weekend was indicative of a poor season. Against 10 men, they totaled 65 percent of possession, struggled to create clear-cut chances and remained unwilling to shoot for much of the game.
A familiar story occurred at Villa Park in December, where the Swans totaled an astonishing 73 percent of possession but never looked like they would score the winner in a 1-1 draw.
Swansea last 38 league games: P38 W9 D9 L20. 36 points had Wigan relegated last season. Worse than McLeish at Villa.— ®ïçhãrd ¥åłłøp (@RichardYallop) February 4, 2014
Over the last 38 games, they haven't secured enough points at all and that cannot be put solely down to injury luck or anything else. From March 2013 to now, they've been pretty substandard in most areas.
Michu's injury hasn't helped and the UEFA Europa League schedule has been grueling. They've played 10 extra games already and have flown to Switzerland, Russia, Romania, Sweden and Spain. Napoli, in Southern Italy, is up next.
However, that doesn't account for the way the Swans took their foot off the pedal after winning the Capital One Cup last season. In a way, this ties in well with The Mirror's claims of Laudrup being lax and uncaring about the club's current form and state.
Some fans argue that the laid-back approach has always been the Dane's mantra, and while it wasn't a problem when they were winning, he has become the scapegoat now that the club are underperforming.
His laissez-faire attitude may have been accepted while the reflection of the Cup stood gleaming in Huw Jenkins' eyes, but 12 months on and with barren results aplenty, it stinks of a lack of motivation. Laudrup took a two-day trip to Paris after the West Ham loss and gave his players time off.
For the chairman, that was unfathomable.
Perhaps expectations reached unprecedented, unmanageable levels. Perhaps Laudrup is the scapegoat for poor player performances under the same methods used last season.
Whatever the case, Swansea have gone certifiably stale. Hovering just two points above the relegation zone at the start of February was never going to fly well at a club where new standards have been set.
Whether it was right to sack him will be hotly debated among fans, journalists and pundits for the foreseeable future, but Swansea have never set a culture for sacking managers unnecessarily.
In a bad season, something had to give. Unfortunately for Laudrup, it's always the manager who bites the bullet.
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