Swansea City boss Michael Laudrup to tweak the role of the wide boys
MICHAEL Laudrup has asked his widemen to change their approach this season as Swansea City aim to crack the Premier League all over again.
Laudrup has stated since the day he took the reins at the Liberty Stadium back in June that he has no intention of overhauling Swansea's style of play.
But the Swansea manager has also stressed the need for his new team to tweak their tactics in the upcoming season or face being found out by their top-flight rivals.
Laudrup believes Swansea must be able to alter their approach in certain games if they are to thrive once more in 2012-13.
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And he is also ready to tinker with their regular system — starting with his two wingers.
When Swansea kick off their new campaign at Queens Park Rangers this weekend, Laudrup will tell his wide players to stay narrow and support central striker Danny Graham whenever possible.
Rather than always being told to stretch the pitch, as they were under the previous management team, Swansea's flyers will be urged to come inside and look to cause damage.
That, according to Laudrup, will be the most dramatic alteration to the shape of this Swansea side following this summer's change in the dugout.
"I can only compare with what I have seen on DVDs of the games last year," the Dane says.
"I haven't changed that much, but I think maybe the two positions I have changed the most are the two wide players.
"I don't know if I'm wrong, but from what I've seen last year they always had to be very open — they stayed wide with and without the ball.
"I want them to come in and try to find space between lines.
"They have proved they are so irritating for the other team.
"I am looking always at what the opponents think, and they know players who come in between the lines are very dangerous.
"That is the major change I have made tactically."
So Swansea fans travelling to Loftus Road on Saturday can expect to see Nathan Dyer and — presumably — Scott Sinclair darting inside to offer Graham some company whenever possible.
It may not sound like a huge change, but it is a significant alteration for a team who have been so reliant on their wide players in the last couple of years.
Whether it is Dyer, Sinclair — assuming he does not move to Manchester City — or QPR old boy Wayne Routledge, or indeed the new wideman Laudrup hopes to add soon, their job will be to influence the game in the centre of the pitch, not just near the touchlines.
Will Laudrup alter anything else about Swansea's approach?
It seems that for all the praise Brendan Rodgers's team won for racking up the passes last season, the new boss will look for the ball to be played forward a little earlier.
"Maybe we will touch it a little less from behind before we try to penetrate to the second line — to find Jonathan (de Guzman), Michu or one of the wide players coming in," Laudrup says.
That is not to suggest that Swansea are suddenly going to play a game that is more like the traditional British approach.
Laudrup may want to attack sooner, but that does not mean he wants his players to become looser in possession.
Rodgers, just like Roberto Martinez before him, used to preach about the need to take care of the ball.
Laudrup will do exactly the same, for he believes Swansea are a team made to suffer when their opponents are in possession.
Swansea conceded five goals in their two most significant pre-season friendlies, against Blackpool and Stuttgart.
And it appears at this stage as though Laudrup's side could make entertaining viewing this season.
"Overall (the philosophy) is the same," he stresses.
"I like possession — I want the ball because there is only one.
"I think you could see in the pre-season friendlies that our team needs the ball.
"If we don't have the ball we have problems because we are not physically strong like at least 60, 70 maybe 80 per cent of the Premier League teams.
"They are stronger physically than us so we need the ball, and we will suffer if we don't have it.
"It's not only important, it's vital for us to have the ball.
"I know we cannot have it 100 per cent of the time, but we have to have it as much as we possibly can."
And so to West London, where Mark Hughes's Rangers side will be hungry to make a flying start to the new season following a busy summer in the transfer market.
Laudrup's competitive debut in the English game comes at the smallest ground in the Premier League, but QPR's vociferous support will make life hard for Swansea nevertheless.
Hughes will want his team to launch an onslaught, to blow Swansea away just as they did when Rodgers's men were thumped 3-0 back in April.
The visitors must take the sting out of the Hoops, and the best way to do that is to keep possession.
First and foremost, Swansea must dominate the ball.
Should they manage that, Dyer and Co will get the chance to do damage in their new roles.