Cautious chairman won't get carried away
HUW Jenkins has warned Swansea City that life in the top flight is only going to get harder as they prepare for the big kick-off against Man- chester United.
Swansea's third Premier League season begins when the champions visit the Liberty Stadium this evening.
For the first time, Swansea set out on a campaign at this level with the pundits tipping them for a top-half spot rather than a place in the bottom three.
They have earned respect after two mid-table finishes and last season's Capital One Cup success.
On top of past performances, Swansea have done some shrewd work in the transfer market this summer, with the general consensus now being that Laudrup's squad is the strongest ever assembled in SA1.
Yet as the new domestic season dawns, Jenkins is quick to point out that Swansea cannot get carried away as a result of their newly-acquired reputation.
"I don't think anything changes for us," the Swansea chairman declares.
"The starting point every year is to make sure you're competitive and you get enough points on the board to stay in the Premier League.
"We are now in our third season at this level, but you have to be focused from the off on your task — and we are.
"You cannot afford to lose sight of the target when you look at the clubs getting promoted or clubs still in the division who are changing managers or buying players or refocusing to make sure they are more competitive.
"Things will get harder in the Premier League with each year that ticks by, and we are all prepared for the long, hard battle that lies ahead."
Jenkins admits his summer has been hard work, particularly in the early weeks when Laudrup's agent was making all sorts of noises about what his client's future might hold.
But Swansea have come through unscathed, with the Dane still in the manager's office and a number of exciting new faces in the dressing room.
Jenkins has sanctioned deals he would never have thought possible when he agreed to head up the board of directors a little over 10 years ago.
Like every Swansea follower, he is excited about what the likes of Wilfried Bony, Jonjo Shelvey and Jose Canas can add to a squad that did exceptionally well last season.
But unlike some, Jenkins refuses to get too carried away.
"I am not going to change my personality overnight," he smiles.
"I know a lot of people were excited about what we did against Malmo, and I think Malmo felt they had a good team and that they could beat us before the tie.
"I got that feeling from them, and I think they were surprised by what we were like.
"That shows the strength of squad we have, but the Malmo tie doesn't come anywhere near what we are going to have thrown at us over the next few weeks in the Premier League.
"We have to remember that apart from Shelvey, the new lads we have brought in are going to have a totally different experience playing against the strength and power of Premier League teams.
"Players will see that quickly and they will have to adapt. It's only then that we'll be able to gauge how far we have come since last season."
Jenkins may be cautious, but he is not pessimistic.
He made it clear before Swansea's Europa League adventure began that in his eyes, what Laudrup's team do in overseas competition this season is a sideshow.
The league is the main event for a club who, despite all the recent positives, are still attempting to establish themselves in the top division.
"There is certainly no guarantee that one good season will follow another," Jenkins stresses.
"We have to see how things settle down.
"We play United, then Spurs away, then we have games like West Brom and Crystal Palace away in the first few weeks.
"After all that we can see if we are going to be hard to beat.
"I think the first few games will be a good indicator for us. They will tell us whether we will be near where we were last year."
Anywhere near would do very nicely.
So spectacular were Swansea's achievements in 2012-13 that even a slight decline this term would represent another fine effort.
"It would take some doing to match last season," Jenkins concedes.
The Swansea chief cites a spell in the middle of the last campaign which suggests they can go well again despite the added demands of European football.
"Last year January was big for us," Jenkins says.
"We competed against Chelsea home and away, we played Arsenal home and away and we had a lot of league games chucked in.
"We coped quite well in that period, which I believe shows we can easily cope with Thursday-Sunday football.
"I think the squad and the way we play will see us cope — I have got no worries about that."
Yet still cementing top-tier status is way out in front on Swansea's list of priorities.
"But the other side of me and everybody connected with the club is that we'd like to win every game we play," Jenkins adds through another grin.
"I'd like to get to every final and win every cup, and every game we don't win we'll be bitterly disappointed — that's not going to change whatever the competition.
"Let's just hope that we give a good account of ourselves in all the games we play."