Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup: Don't concede and then we'll win
IT says something about Michael Laudrup's philosophy that he feels the need to justify his appeal for a clean sheet.
A defence-splitter in his playing days, Laudrup the coach likes his teams to focus on carving out opportunities too.
There are some managers — there was one in the Liberty dugout not long ago with a Portuguese accent — who will spend the majority of their time in the lead-up to games attempting to work out how best to stifle their opponents.
Once that is achieved, they will hope to snatch something at the other end.
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Laudrup's approach is much more focused on what his team can do going forward.
He almost accepts that they will concede goals — and does not mind as long as they score more themselves.
Laudrup is more concerned with creating chances than snuffing them out.
He wants his team to start fires, not extinguish them.
Yet there has been a change of stance from the Swansea City manager ahead of Saturday's meeting with Wigan Athletic.
Swansea are in need of a victory and, having conceded too often in recent times, Laudrup concedes that a clean sheet should provide the springboard to success.
"We have to make sure we don't give goals away," he suggests.
Having started the season with a couple of clean sheets, his team have been breached all too easily in recent times.
Michel Vorm has conceded 11 goals in five Premier League games since the opening-week successes against Queens Park Rangers and West Ham.
Even against lower-league opposition in the Capital One Cup, second-choice goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel has been beaten three times in two rounds.
With so many goals going in at one end, Swansea are making life hard for themselves at the other.
As a result, Laudrup accepts that a shutout is high on his wishlist ahead of the weekend clash with Wigan.
"We have conceded a lot of goals, especially in the first 45 minutes in the last few games," he adds.
"We keep on having to come from behind and that's something we want to stop.
"We know we will create chances — we have done that in all the games we have played apart from Stoke.
"We can play good, average or whatever and we will always create chances.
"But if we have to come from behind, whether it's 1-0 or 2-0, it makes it much more difficult for us. It puts much more pressure on you when you are behind. You have to get everything more quickly."
In defence of his team's defending, Laudrup points out that Everton aside, nobody has carved out chance after chance against Swansea this season.
That may be about to change with fixtures against some of the big guns lurking around the corner, but it is true that Swansea have not exactly been overrun in the early stages of this campaign.
Last time out, for instance, Reading scored two goals from three opportunities — and one of them was the result of an uncharacteristic Vorm mistake.
Ashley Williams has also made a couple of unfamiliar errors, so some of the goals Swansea have conceded might easily have been avoided.
"Apart from Everton, we haven't given a lot of chances to our opponents," Laudrup says.
"Against Stoke, Reading, Sunderland and Aston Villa we gave away very few chances.
"But of course there were enough for them to score goals against us, especially in the first half of games, and it's very important that we change that."
After Saturday, Swansea face Manchester City, Chelsea, Newcastle and Liverpool in their next five league games, while there is also the League Cup tie at Anfield to squeeze in.
The daunting fixtures do not stop there, for Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United all come shortly after that.
After what has been a fairly gentle opening to the Laudrup era in terms of the sides Swansea have played, there are some huge tests ahead.
Hence, after four league outings without a victory, the visit of Wigan takes on considerable significance.
"Once more we play against a direct rival," Laudrup says.
"You could say that all seven games we have played in the league have been against teams who are our opponents, and this will be the eighth.
"That's why it's so important that we don't concede an early goal, because we cannot keep coming from behind to draw or even win."
If there was any doubt, the statistics highlight how Swansea cannot expect to keep on digging themselves out of holes.
Before Reading, they had not fought back from a two-goal deficit since that memorable 4-3 win at Middlesbrough in February 2011, when Brendan Rodgers's men took the points having trailed 3-1 at one stage.
Before that, it was Lee Trundle's late brace at Peterborough which gave Swansea a 2-2 draw in December 2009.
Such revivals do not come around very often, so Swansea cannot possibly hope to thrive if they keep on conceding.
"It's good that we were able to come back from 2-0 down against Reading because it's the first time in a long, long time Swansea have done that," Laudrup says.
"But it was a very important game for us against a direct rival, and the negative part is that we haven't won for quite a few games now."
Like the defensive record, that is something Swansea need to change.