'Laudrup was one of the best - I'd love to beat him'
HEAD coach Cosmin Contra has hailed the managerial abilities of Michael Laudrup ahead of Swansea City's clash with Petrolul Ploiesti.
The former Romania international defender played under Laudrup for a season when the pair were at Getafe six years ago.
During that campaign the La Liga side reached the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup, now known as the Europa League.
Contra's playing CV also includes spells at the likes of AC Milan and Atletico Madrid, as well as a month spent in the Premier League with West Brom in 2004.
And in that colourful career, his short stint with Laudrup stands out as one of the highlights.
"It was a great year, we got into the quarter-finals of the Europa League and the final of the Spanish Cup," said Contra.
"We played extraordinarily well that year, Michael Laudrup is an exceptional coach and manager.
"He is one of the best I've played under and it would be great to beat him.
"As a coach he put a lot of emphasis on keeping the ball, to aggressively get the ball when you lose it and to press.
"To some extent that has influenced me, Michael Laudrup is one of the coaches that has influenced me, but there are more than one."
Little known in these parts, Petrolul were promoted back to the Romanian top flight in 2011 and finished third last season, also claiming the cup.
They are on a 22-game unbeaten run in the league and knocked out Wilfried Bony's old side Vitesse Arnhem to set up this meeting with Swansea.
But not everything coming out of the Petrolul camp is positive.
They are currently in dispute over unpaid bonuses, which local media report has led to anger among the squad.
"Swansea are favourites, they are a team I believe has valuable players and a good coach," said Contra.
"They have done well in the Premier League, but we have come here to play football and to try and go back to Romania with a good result. That will give us hopes of qualifying for the next round.
"If a Premier League club loses to a side that are not favourites it will turn heads. People will look at us differently and I believe my players deserve to be known."
Laudrup is expected to make changes to the side that lost to Manchester United on Saturday.
With one eye on Sunday's trip to Spurs, a number of key players might be rested.
Nathan Dyer misses the match with a hamstring problem, while Jonathan de Guzman is unlikely to be risked after suffering concussion while on Holland duty.
"I know all the Swansea players that played in Spain because I played there myself for ten years," added Contra.
"I was a team-mate of Pablo Hernandez so I know him very well.
"I have watched a lot of their matches so I'm familiar with them as an opponent.
"It would be a very important win if we could beat Swansea City, important for Romanian football."