'Boss's smart style will help Swansea City thrive'
JONATHAN de Guzman has offered an insight into the coaching style he feels will help Swansea City thrive in the Premier League next season.
The midfielder trained with his new Swansea team-mates for the first time on the club's relaid Llandarcy training pitches yesterday.
While de Guzman is trying to settle in at a new club, his colleagues are attempting to get used to life under a new boss.
For de Guzman, however, the manager is a familiar figure.
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The Dutchman played — and flourished — under Michael Laudrup at Real Mallorca in 2010-11.
And he believes Laudrup's approach will help Swansea make another strong impression on the top flight next season.
"From the year I experienced with him at Mallorca, I can tell you he is a relaxed coach who knows what he wants," de Guzman says.
"He is very tactical, he is very smart and he wants to play football.
"He likes playing one-two football and I think that's the most effective kind of football around right now, as you can see if you look at Spain.
"Hopefully he can bring that here. Swansea played very good football last year and hopefully we can have success next season too."
Having come through the ranks at Feyenoord, de Guzman made more than 100 appearances for the Dutch heavyweights before switching to Spain two years ago.
He had a fine season with Mallorca, so successful that Villarreal forked out around £6.5 million for his services last August.
But things did not go so well with the team known as the Yellow Submarine, de Guzman failing to make such a strong impression as the club suffered a surprise relegation from the top flight.
Another transfer this summer was always a possibility after a disappointing campaign.
Once Laudrup got the Swansea job, de Guzman's mind was made up.
"When he became coach here it was a no-brainer for me to come," he adds.
"I am happy to be here. Hopefully I can show my talents and help the team to do well."
The move to Wales will provide a fresh challenge for de Guzman, who learned his trade in Holland's Eredivisie before stepping up to La Liga.
He now faces the task of adapting to another of Europe's top leagues.
Laudrup believes de Guzman's blend of technical quality, energy and desire to succeed will ensure he makes himself at home in the Premier League.
And the former Dutch Under-23 man is confident the passing style which suits him will also serve Swansea well once more next season.
"I know the Premier League is played at a fast pace and it's very physical too," he says.
"But then again I think football always wins.
"If we get the ball down and we do it as a group, then hopefully we can do well next season."
He may describe himself as an attacking midfielder, but de Guzman should not be regarded as a direct replacement for Gylfi Sigurdsson, according to his manager.
Laudrup calls Sigurdsson a second striker, while de Guzman is a more authentic midfield player who is capable of getting forward and chipping in with the occasional goal.
These are early days in the Laudrup reign, and much can happen between now and the opening league fixture of the new season at Queens Park Rangers on August 18.
But if you were trying to forecast the Swansea team which will take the field at Loftus Road, the smart money would be on Leon Britton anchoring Laudrup's midfield with de Guzman and Joe Allen — post-Olympic fitness-permitting — operating a little further forward.
Things could change, of course, with more squad restructuring a certainty before Laudrup's competitive debut comes around.
For now, the focus for the players is on making sure they are ready for QPR rather than who will make the starting XI.
For de Guzman, like fellow new boy Chico Flores, there is a need to get used to new surroundings — a task which is apparently proving easy.
"It's been great so far," de Guzman adds.
"I know a couple of the players from Holland and I have had a good welcome from all of the lads.
"It's a new step for me coming to the Premier League, but I also know the coach so I basically feel at home already."
He may have been operating in Spain last season, but de Guzman even knows a little about Swansea's exploits last term.
The 24-year-old kept an eye on the club once fellow countryman Michel Vorm switched from Utrecht to Wales last summer.
"I follow a lot of the Dutch players here, especially Michel, so when he came over I started following Swansea," de Guzman explains.
"I watched Swansea in the Premier League last year and they did very well.
"For me it's an honour to be here and be part of the club."