Huw Jenkins: Michael Laudrup is the perfect man for Swansea City
HUW Jenkins reckons Michael Laudrup is the perfect man for Swansea City — because he knows how to keep expect- ations in check.
Jenkins argues that Swansea have added "a different dimension" to their game under Laudrup this season.
And he is convinced that Swansea's players now believe more than ever before that they can compete with the Premier League's top sides.
Jenkins, in upbeat mood following last weekend's spectacular win at Arsenal, can sense an opportunity to achieve something extraordinary in the top flight this season.
But the Swansea chairman admits that for now, Laudrup's experience will be key to the club's hopes of continued progress.
"I know what Michael is like having worked with him for a few months," Jenkins says.
"He has had enough highs in his career to know what's needed to remain focused and win games when you do have some big wins and big results.
"I think he is the right personality to control us, to stop us running away with ourselves and thinking we can win the Champions League in two years!
"We are all pleased and excited about where we are.
"But personally I am very pleased for Michael, who has made a big commitment to come in and join our football club from abroad.
"He has put his neck on the line in our country by coming to work with us in South Wales, and he has brought his family to be in and around the football club.
"I am sure he was very proud of what he witnessed last Saturday. I hope it gives him that encouragement and belief that at this level we have got a good group of players.
"I am delighted for him that things have settled down and that everybody seems to be enjoying it."
Swansea set out this season with the primary goal of preserving their top-tier status, but their form in the last couple of months has been good enough to justify loftier ambitions.
Laudrup's team have lost only one of their last ten matches.
As a result, they host Norwich City this weekend knowing a victory could lift them into the Champions League places, and then battle Middlesbrough for a spot in the Capital One Cup semi-finals a week tonight.
Exciting times — and all a far cry from the dark headlines which were doing the rounds as recently as early October.
That was when speculation emerged suggesting there was unrest in the dressing room, that some players were not happy with the new managerial regime in SA1.
Jenkins admitted at the time that one or two squad members had discussed the situation with him — but insists now that the whole story was a fuss about very little.
"The same stories exist now as then — if you want to make stories of them," he says.
"Anybody who doesn't play regularly is not happy in football. They are strange if they are — you don't want players like that.
"You will always get stories like that, it just depends on what people make of them and how they portray them."
Suffice to say that Swansea's managerial switch did not happen without a glitch, but that things are running pretty smoothly right now.
In fact, Jenkins concedes, the latest change of manager at the Liberty has worked out better than he could have hoped for when he offered Laudrup the job back in June.
"We have had a lot of changes," he adds.
"Many people outside the club, and probably some within the club, felt we were in for difficult time with not only Brendan (Rodgers) leaving but about five players from our regular starting side last season going as well.
"That meant there was a lot of work to do and, with the experience I have gained, we know full well things take time to settle in.
"But I am very, very pleased for Michael, the staff and the new players about how quickly things have come together. They all seem to be enjoying it and we're getting the right sort of headlines, which is obviously what we want."
Part of Swansea's success so far in 2012-13 has been down to the tweak in tactical approach overseen by Laudrup.
"I had numerous discussions with Michael to get views on how we could improve, how we played last year and how we could add to that," Jenkins says.
"I do believe, especially in the last few games, we have shown that we've added a completely different dimension to the way we play, which certainly makes us competitive.
"It probably makes us a bit more unpredictable because there is more variety in the way we play.
"You add to that a few good signings who have adapted very quickly to the Premier League and it gives us a fighting chance."
With 23 points taken from their 15 league games this season, Swansea are on course to break through the 40 barrier at some point in February or March.
As he attempts to stay calm when some are getting carried away, Jenkins insists reaching the traditional safety mark is, as ever, the primary goal.
But the Swansea chief admits there is a chance for someone outside the usual suspects to shine in the Premier League this season.
"We have had one defeat in ten games, which was at Manchester City, and the opportunity is there to keep us moving forward and keep competing in every match, which we have done recently," Jenkins says.
"I believe that over the last few games our players have started to believe they can win games against the biggest sides, not just that they can go and play well.
"When I watched last Saturday I really felt that right through the team, our boys felt they could win that game.
"When you look at the league we know the standards are very high and there are a lot of big clubs in the division.
"But I think Manchester City and Manchester United are way beyond the majority now and that there's not much consistency coming up behind them from the other so-called big sides.
"I think it's been said a lot that the opportunity is there for anyone in the top 15 sides to get stuck in, play well and have every chance to do well between now and the end of the season. Whoever has a good run and competes will do that."
The aim for Jenkins, Laudrup and the rest is to make sure that team, or one of them at least, is Swansea City.