Michael Laudrup: 'We have to keep belief'
MICHAEL Laudrup has urged Swansea City to believe in themselves after chances went begging yet again in their 2-0 defeat at Southampton yesterday.
Laudrup was left wondering what might have been after a fourth Premier League defeat of the season, which leaves Swansea with only seven points from seven top-flight games.
Laudrup, who defended his decision to omit Leon Britton, has fresh injury concerns after Ben Davies picked up a hamstring problem late on at St Mary's and Jonathan de Guzman missed the game with a groin strain.
But his more immediate worry was a lack of cutting edge – and the sloppy defending which allowed Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez to earn victory for the Saints.
Swansea created a number of good opportunities between the two Southampton goals but paid the price for poor finishing.
"I don't want to say we always need too many chances to score because that wouldn't be fair on the players," Laudrup said.
"But it is true that in some games we need to take more of the chances we create.
"How do we improve? More training? Of course not. It's about being more convinced when we are in the last third of the pitch.
"I am pleased with the number of chances we create in every game, even against the big teams. But we have to create the last thing right, and unfortunately that last thing — putting the ball in the net — is the most important thing in football.
"I said to the players after the game that it's incredible, we haven't had one penalty in 45 games since I have been here.
"I am not saying we should have had one against Southampton, but sometimes we need to be more cynical in the last third.
"I have players who are very talented individually. I want them to go one-v-one in the penalty box and take players on, and then we will see what happens.
"Sometimes we want to make too many nice passes."
Swansea were again without skipper Ashley Williams, who was deemed fit enough for the bench after ankle trouble but is still not right according to his manager.
Yet Laudrup once again opted not to play Britton, the fans’ favourite who is regarded by many as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League.
Asked directly about Britton’s absence, Laudrup said: “I think we have four excellent central midfield players. It’s an area where you have to work hard and we have a lot of games, so I have to take care of all four of them.
“I can’t say there is any one player who will always play, and I don’t think differently depending on which competition a game is in.
“I just try to prepare for the game we play today and the game we play tomorrow – I always think about the next game because I need fresh players.”
Swansea left-back Davies will have a scan today after picking up an injury problem in the closing stages at Southampton.
Laudrup already had injury concerns over de Guzman, Pablo Hernandez, Garry Monk and Roland Lamah – as well as Williams.
There are now question marks over whether Williams or Davies will play any part as Wales face Macedonia and Belgium over the next eight days.
“Ben injured his hamstring in the last ten minutes and Ash has only trained for 30 minutes,” Laudrup said.
“They will both join up with Wales, but Ash still needs some time to get back to his best and it may be that Ben is out for two or three weeks.
“Jonathan will also go with Holland, but they will have to assess him.”
Swansea hope all their injured players will be fit by the time they return to action against Sunderland in 12 days’ time, with Davies the biggest doubt for the Black Cats’ visit at this stage.