Don't believe the hype over lauded Laudrup

The Dane's departure from Swansea City has seen criticism levelled at the club's board but the manager's past suggests a split could be best for the Liberty Stadium side
By Paul Macdonald

Michael Laudrup is a handsome man. He talks articulately. He wants to play football 'the right way'. He has also failed to reach the end of the second season at his previous four clubs, forcefully or voluntarily.

It is curious, the goodwill that a person can generate from their demeanour and how they are revered. With a glittering playing career for Barcelona, Real Madrid and Denmark behind him, for the past few years he has been the identikit of the modern, progressive coach; fresh, worldly-wise, exquisitely coiffured and itching to impose his philosophy upon the masses.

And given his genius as a player, there is a general willingness to accept this reality; there seems to be an urging for the Dane to be thrown in the air after winning the Champions League, even though his career in the dugout has only briefly hinted that this might ever be possible. But still, he's Michael Laudrup. That's worth something, isn't it?


JUNE 2012
After Swansea defeated a vulnerable Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup in early January, his name was thrown by some into the conversation for the non-vacant managerial post in the opposite dugout. It was reactionism at its finest and, if any of the clubs that remain associated with the Dane wish to look beyond the façade and into his managerial past, they would find far murkier waters, should they wish to accept them. 

Brondby, Getafe, Spartak Moscow, Mallorca and now Swansea - his compendium of exits are characterised by mitigating circumstances that he or his associates have helped to manufacture. Unquestionably successful at Brondby, he chose to leave the club in 2006, refusing a one-year deal supposedly on the grounds that he had taken the club as far as possible. Upon his appointment at Getafe in 2007, president Angel Torres stood by him in the face of staunch criticism as the team took two months and nine league matches to record their first win. As performances improved, Laudrup was reported to have demanded funds to improve the squad and, upon refusal, chose to depart rather than build upon what he had started.

His subsequent spell at Spartak Moscow was an unmitigated disaster. He lasted just seven months in charge and was unceremoniously dismissed via a succinct telephone call days after a comprehensive 3-0 cup defeat to bitter rivals Dynamo Moscow. Thirteen months out of the game ultimately led him to cash-strapped Mallorca and an altercation with board member Lorenzo Serra Ferrer. "Mallorca will be whatever Serra Ferrer wants it to be," he said on the way out of his fourth club in five years.

In every case, there is seemingly someone doing Laudrup's bidding on his behalf. His agent, Bayram Tutumlu, openly criticised members of the Getafe squad after a league defeat, only for Laudrup to casually claim that "everyone was entitled to their opinion". At Mallorca, his assistant coach, Erik Larsen, was relieved of his duties after claiming that director Serra Ferrer was "unfit to lead the club", comments which derived from supposed frustration over transfer policy during the close season.

After leaving Spartak Moscow it took his brother, Brian, to absolve him of responsibility for the calamitous run of form, stating: "Spartak Moscow are a club with big expectations and Michael was hired with the intention of getting more money but, due to the financial crisis, he couldn't buy any new players."

13/2 Swansea are 13/2 with Bet365 to be relegated from the Premier League
And finally, at Swansea, Tutumlu emerged once again, requesting - you've guessed it - transfer funds for the manager. Tutumlu was eventually expelled from involvement in the club's activities and Laudrup himself was on the verge of departing as a result of perceived lack of ambition. He eventually remained to squander £20 million on making a team significantly worse. The desire to spend, in this case with questionable merit, portrays him as less of a tactical liberator and more of an narcissistic opportunist, wriggling out of difficult situations by manufacturing bones of contention.

Accusations of an aloof attitude have followed him from post to post. Laudrup's laissez-faire approach and the words of his delegates suggest that he feels that he is above Getafe, above Mallorca, above Swansea, willing to play ball until the situation turns against him. Yet his coaching career signifies someone yet to enjoy any sustained success in any league outside of his homeland. If Tony Pulis played nice football but had this CV, he would be an afterthought for the jobs that have supposedly circled him.

Casual fans are quick to denounce the managerial merry-go-round of the Premier League as it claims another victim, however this is not an example of an untenable situation - his catalogue of acrimonious departures prove the precedent here. Furthermore, Swansea do not subscribe to the trigger-happy mentality; they had not sacked a manager in over 10 years. The facts, leaving aside his win ratio of just 22 per cent since the 2013 Capital One Cup final win, conclude that the Dane is difficult and has yet to see a project to any kind of logical conclusion.

Laudrup will probably remain the well-groomed, eloquent former great with which teams want to be associated but, given the evidence, that reputation deserves a careful reassessment.

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