Michael Laudrup is the man of the season



With a load of people you haven't really heard of collecting little golden statues for things they've done in films today, it's probably worth pointing out that we've been a little short of decent narratives in this particular edition of Premier League: The Motion Picture.

The usual wells of drama and intrigue haven't really got going this time. The title race, normally the most Hollywood of all footballing plotlines, was officially awarded to Manchester United in September, at the precise moment the receptionist at the Emirates pulled a sheet reading “How much do you want for that lad with the nice teeth? AF x” out of the fax machine.

Even the relegation battle's been drab thus far. The better teams have stayed out of it, the weaker teams are all where you'd expect them to be, and Wigan, who are usually pretty poor all season but just about stay up, look like just about staying up despite being pretty poor all season. The only remote entertainment has come from QPR splurging loads of money in the summer and seeing no improvement in results, and then doing it again in January just in case anybody had missed it.

Joey Barton's got his own spin-off show throwing baguettes at passing policemen, Mario Balotelli's at least six months away from finding a horse's head in one of his spare bedrooms, and it's been so long since I've seen an England international's wife on the front pages of a newspaper that I genuinely fear for the next series of I'm A Celebrity...

In fact, the only good story we've had all year has been that of Michael Laudrup. Taking the reigns of a Swansea City side that were not only staring down that clichéd old barrel of second season syndrome, but no longer had the services of Joe Allen, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Steven Caulker or Scott Sinclair to call upon, he was realistically looking at what optimists refer to as a “transitional” season. But on Sunday he could be found proudly striding around Wembley stadium with the Capital One Cup, having taken the team to its first major trophy in 100 years.

With a top-half finish in the league also within their grasp, Laudrup's stock as a manager is now reaching new heights, and the question of his future will be bandied about before the cup final DVD has even arrived in the club shop. Can Swansea possibly hold onto him? How long until one of his former clubs come knocking for a big move?

His two most high-profile previous employers, Real Madrid and Barcelona, could conceivably have a vacancy this coming summer, which would give us a classic will-they-won't-they love story to occupy the close season. Chelsea are on the hunt for a stylish manager who carries a big name, Roberto Mancini's anything but secure in his job at City, and sooner or later Alex Ferguson's going to have to hang up the overcoat and tap his watch furiously from the comfort of his arm chair. In short, he couldn't have picked a better moment to blossom as a manager.

One of Michael Laudrup's greatest strengths is simultaneously one of his greatest weaknesses: the fact that he's Michael Laudrup. Being one of the greatest players of his generation, the footballing consciousness won't be satisfied until his managerial career reaches the same heights as his playing career did, and any success he enjoys with Swansea City will be met with the assumption that he's ready to ascend to bigger things. Maybe he is, but taking a team to a major Wembley final after overcoming the European Champions in the previous round sounds like a pretty big thing to me.

In a season that's been largely drama-free, Michael Laudrup's tactics, signings, grace, humility and success have been a fascinating change of pace from the glitz and grime we're used to. Only time will tell if he's got what it takes to do as well with one of the game's superpowers, but right now he's got a good thing going on the Welsh coast, and plenty of time for grander designs. A few more happy endings for Swansea fans shouldn't be out of the question.

 

Read more of Adam's articles.

Back Swansea to sneak into the top four this season at 100.