Swansea’s decision to sack manager Michael Laudrup caused plenty of surprise in the bet365 forums this week but anyone who has watched the Welsh side in recent weeks will not be too shocked by the news.
Laudrup has become the latest Premier League manager in the bottom half of what is a very congested table this season to lose his job after a run of poor results.
But this is a coach and a side that was rightly lauded for winning the Capital One Cup and finishing ninth just last May, so where has it all gone wrong for Laudrup at the Liberty Stadium?
The Dane arrived in south Wales 18 months ago with a reputation as a modern, progressive coach and one apparently destined to eventually take charge of one of Europe’s top clubs. He was able to pick up where his predecessor Brendan Rodgers left off by operating an attractive passing game and the Swans again impressed fans who bet on football with bet365 last season under the former Barcelona player’s guidance.
But this season it has been a very different story. High hopes of again finishing in the top half look to have been dashed by a shocking recent points return, which has seen Swansea garner just one win from their last 10 top-flight games. They sit just two points clear of the relegation zone and have had the look of a side in freefall for several weeks.
Injuries have been a problem with the loss of Michu for much of the campaign obviously the one that’s hit them the hardest. His tally of 18 Premier League goals last season has not been replicated by big summer signing Wilfried Bony this time around, with the Ivory Coast ace taking his time to adapt to playing in England. Add to that the absence of Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair and suddenly a squad that was able to compete with the best last term are struggling.
The decision to loan out Ki Sung-Yueng to Sunderland has looked foolish too. The South Korean has been among the Black Cats’ best players this season and his replacement at the Liberty, Jonjo Shelvey, has struggled for consistency.
The Europa League campaign has once again proved to be a somewhat unwanted distraction in the first half of the season as well for a club looking to establish themselves in the top flight. Like Stoke before them, Swansea’s squad has been unable to cope with the demands of two big games in a week and their limited resources have been stretched too far.
Reports of training ground bust-ups have also not helped Laudrup amid claims of a dressing room divide that the boss did little to sort out. News that the police were called to an incident recently between Chico Flores and Garry Monk – who is now in temporary charge – only fuelled speculation that things were getting out of hand and was another nail in his coffin.
It was telling that chairman Huw Jenkins chose to use the line that “it was unlikely we would achieve a stable environment at the club to allow us to get back to basics” with Laudrup in charge when giving his reasons for the sacking, so it appeared there was an issue of poor team spirit around the club and it was something, according to club officials, that was beginning to hold the Swans back.
Laudrup’s reputation will not have been too damaged by his dismissal with plenty of clubs likely to be willing to give the knowledgable, intelligent well-spoken Dane another chance soon but clearly things had unravelled for him at Swansea and, while the timing looks peculiar to some, it appeared inevitable to those most closely associated with the club.