Michael Laudrup hopes sunshine break will make this Swansea City's brightest year
MICHAEL Laudrup hopes his players will return from Dubai refreshed and ready to turn this season into Swansea City's finest ever.
Laudrup has taken his squad to the Middle East for a warm-weather training camp.
And he believes a short spell in the sun will help Ashley Williams and Co focus their minds on the golden opportunity that lies in front of them.
With 37 Premier League points on the board already and 12 games of the campaign still ahead, Swansea are within touching distance of what would arguably be the best league finish in their 101-year lifetime.
On top of that, of course, Laudrup's men are one game away from lifting a major trophy for the first time in their history.
If Swansea see off Bradford City in the Capital One Cup final and finish up in the top half of the top flight, 2012-13 would surely go down as the most successful campaign the club have ever had.
Laudrup has fingers crossed that this week's change of scenery will boost Swansea at the business end of the season.
"It's a chance for the players to relax a little in the sun," said the Swansea manager.
"We are training as well, because circumstances have changed since we decided to do the trip this week and now we have to prepare for a very difficult game instead of having a weekend off.
"I thought we would have two clear weeks before the Capital One Cup final, but then Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup and we rearranged our league game with them for next weekend.
"We could have cancelled the trip after that, but I felt the players needed to go and see some different surroundings.
"Just being able to put their shorts on and train in 22 degrees rather than one or two degrees will make a difference for them.
"Physically a change like that does not give you that much, but mentally even four days away from home can give you something."
Swansea are not the only Premier League side who are away for a training break this week.
In fact Danny Graham's Sunderland and Reading are also in Dubai — as well as a Queens Park Rangers side who are still licking their wounds after a heavy defeat at the Liberty Stadium last Saturday.
"A lot of clubs are doing things like this, with some going to Spain or to America," Laudrup added.
"To go somewhere else after two intense months of games will help us.
"Of course we will be preparing for the next game at Liverpool, but there will be a combination of training and relaxing.
"The trip will be different because we have to go to Anfield on Sunday, but I still wanted us to go."
Swansea should feel fresher than Liverpool come the weekend, for Brendan Rodgers's team were in league action against West Brom last night and they face a Europa League tie at Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday.
The Reds look to be improving under Rodgers, but Swansea will be full of confidence as they aim for their second Anfield triumph of the season.
To have 37 points on the board at this stage is remarkable — Swansea are seven better off than they were at the same [point last term — and the tally gives Laudrup's team a platform to push on and achieve something special in the last chunk of the campaign.
Relegation is not yet a mathematical impossibility, but all talk of going down has ceased at the Liberty with Swansea now a very healthy 14 points clear of the drop zone.
The Champions League places, by contrast, are only nine points away, leading former England international Ray Wilkins to suggest over the weekend that Swansea are outside bets for the top four.
That may be pushing it a bit, yet what is not up for debate is that this is shaping up to be a spectacular season in SA1.
Swansea will do extremely well to beat their all-time best league finish of sixth in the top division back in 1982.
But given the resources of their Premier League rivals — and the huge amounts of cash being thrown around by the clubs Swansea are now mixing with — it is fair to suggest that a place in the top ten today would eclipse what John Toshack's team did 31 years ago.
Might Swansea lose their focus with the glamour of a day out at Wembley around the corner?
Laudrup does not expect the cup final to have any impact on league form.
"I think you saw the answer to that question against QPR," he pointed out.
"That can happen to teams, but I think the players showed on Saturday that they know we still have things to do in the league as well as the cup."
Swansea dismantled a Rangers side who, although bottom of the league, have displayed a fair amount of resilience in recent weeks.
There were some brief concerns for the home contingent when Bobby Zamora scored early in the second half, but Pablo Hernandez's rapid response eased any jitters.
Swansea's fourth goal, meantime, was a shining example of how good this team can be.
Laudrup wil hope for more of the same once batteries have been recharged.