Michael Laudrup the 48 year old Danish footballing legend has signed a 2 year deal to become manager of Swansea City.
Quoted in the Guardian Laudrup said:
“I’ve spoken to the chairman and I’m very pleased to sign for Swansea City. It’s going to be a new experience for me and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve spoken to many people about Swansea and watched a number of their games on DVD. Everyone knows the style of football Swansea play and it suits my way of thinking.”
This gives some predictability to fantasy premier league managers that Swansea will continue their short passing possession game that had a large part to play in the 14 clean sheets recorded last season. Although its hard to see that a player that made 166 games at Barcelona under Cruijff would play in any other style.
Outside success in management in his own country with Brondby, he was most successful with Getafe in 2007 -2008 where they reached the Copa del Rey final and the quarter finals of the UEFA cup. Subsequent spells at Spartak Moscow and RCD Mallorca were far from successful although Mallorca was plagued by financial problems and internal strife. It is worth noting that although he has a reputation for attacking football his sides have generally had reasonably respectable defensive records. Swanseas record was exceptional at home but overall they conceded 51 goals. This is 5 more than Sunderland and only 1 less than WBA so there’s a question mark over whether they can repeat this next year.
So what are there prospects for next year. Laudrups appointment will at least mean the possession based game with players pressing high up the pitch will continue with Laudrup. However, there are a number of factors that make Swansea, from a fantasy football perspective, uncertain.
Lets start with the defence. Fantasy premier league managers feasted on the cheap defence with 14 Clean sheets. A large percentage of these were obtained at home where a rotation defence was likely to benefit. Apart from possible price increases to players value, next year will see the return of Stephen Caulker back to Spurs. Caulker had a fantastic season, although 4 clean sheets in 12 games without him (33%) isn’t that different than 10 clean sheets in 26 games (38%). A more critical issue to the defence will be the future of Michel Vorm. After being indisputably the goalkeeper of the year in fantasy football there will be many premier league manager casting an eye over him. Probably the most obvious destination is Spurs with 41 year Brad Friedel being very replaceable. Therefore for fantasy football managers there’s no certainty about the defence.
As far as midfield goes with Sigurdsson seemingly certain to sign elsewhere there’s little prospects to excite you. Nathan Dyer was certainly a handy cheap option scoring 5 goals and 3 assists in 34 starts, although, it doesn’t really set the world alight. Scott Sinclair’s penalty duties made him a reasonable, if a little overvalued, prospect with a return of 8 goals and 5 assists. However, it was a disappointing output though after his Championship promotion season the previous year when he scored 22 goals in 46 games with 2 assists. It’s interesting to note that his goal output was affected by Sigurdssons arrival and he only managed 1 goal and 2 assists after January. It remains to seen how he fares when Sigurdsson inevitably signs with another club.
Lastly there is the forward line for fantasy football managers to consider, or should I say, Danny Graham. 12 goals and 3 assists in 36 games is a fair return in your first season although 2 in your last 13 again suggests the negative affects of Sigurddsons output.
I haven’t even started on the second season syndrome often experienced by promoted sides.
In summary then, for fantasy premier league managers, Laudrup wont change the style but uncertainty of the defensive makeup of the team and the loss of Smeans that some preseason game analysis and fixture viewing will be required before any Swansea players are included in fantasy football managers lineups on August 18.
sources: Wikipedia, Soccerway, the Guardian