Michael Laudrup's debut with Swansea City won't be the most glamorous game
AUGUST 18, Shepherd's Bush, around 18,000 fans in the Premier League's pokiest arena.
Michael Laudrup's long-awaited British football debut will not be the most glamorous game he encounters next season.
But the presence of one of the game's finest ever players in the away dugout means Swansea's latest trip to Loftus Road will be a fascinating fixture.
For Laudrup, there is a chance to make history on his first big day as Swansea's manager.
His new club, after all, have a truly dreadful record down the years at Queens Park Rangers.
The worst day of their maiden Premier League campaign came there as recently as April, when Brendan Rodgers's team produced probably their most meek display of the season and were duly tonked 3-0.
In the previous campaign the scoreline was even worse, Rodgers's men going down 4-0 to an Adel Taarabt-inspired Rangers side.
And it has not only been in recent times that Swansea have struggled when taking on the Hoops in their own backyard.
In 18 visits since they first went to play Rangers on their own patch back in 1920, Swansea have not racked up a single victory.
It is an extraordinary statistic. And it is one which means that for Laudrup, opportunity knocks.
The QPR game is the first of quite a few at the start of the new season from which Swansea will hope to take a decent chunk of points.
The fixtures for the 2012-13 campaign were revealed yesterday and for Laudrup, there will be some pressure to get results from the outset.
In a sense the Dane has been handed a reasonably gentle introduction to life in the most demanding division going, for Swansea do not face any of the heavy-hitters until they go to Manchester City on October 27.
On the other hand, Laudrup will be aware that there is a need to gather points from his first sequence of matches as Swansea boss.
His home bow will be against West Ham United, a battle of the last two Championship play-off final winners.
Amid all the hullabaloo which will no doubt surround Laudrup's maiden Liberty appearance, his team will want all three points.
Swansea start with a run of 'winnable' home fixtures — after West Ham come Sunderland, then Everton, Reading and Wigan.
And their early away dates also offer hope of points for a team who eventually found a way to triumph on their travels last season.
They go to Aston Villa on September 15 — scene of the first road success in 2011-12 — and then Stoke City before that extremely demanding visit to the Etihad.
Roberto Martinez's Wigan may be fairly early in the piece, but Swansea's supporters will have to wait until November 24 to be reunited with the club's other ex-manager now working elsewhere in the Premier League.
That is the day Brendan Rodgers's Liverpool side are due at the Liberty Stadium for what promises to be one of the most intriguing fixtures of Swansea's second Premier League adventure.
Only three points will be at stake, of course, but Rodgers's return to the ground where he was so admired will give the game considerable spice.
Swansea's focus will then switch towards a demanding December, when they face trips to Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur and host Manchester United.
The M4 will be familiar to Laudrup by the turn of the year, for Swansea also go to Reading — on Boxing Day — and Fulham in December, the busiest month in the calendar with six fixtures to get through.
The early part of 2013 looks a little less demanding, though the game at Anfield on February 23 is at the start of another cluster of big examinations.
Swansea play three of their four matches in March at home, although Newcastle, Arsenal and Spurs will all come to SA1 expecting to leave with results.
A run of road fixtures follows in April as Swansea build up towards another tricky end-of-season sequence.
Laudrup's team go to Chelsea on April 27, then host Manchester City before playing their last away game of the season at Old Trafford, just as they did six weeks ago.
At least their final fixture of the campaign, at home to Fulham on May 19, is one where Swansea would fancy their chances should last-minute points be required.
The hope is, of course, that they will not be scrambling round for a result on the final day of the season.
The hope is that Laudrup, like his predecessor, can lead Swansea to the comfort of mid-table, with top-flight status assured long before the clock starts to tick down on the campaign.
Given the way the fixtures have fallen, a bright beginning looks like being essential for Laudrup's men if they are to be on easy street come the back-end of the season.
The history books suggest Swansea have a serious challenge on their hands first up.
So for Laudrup, an opening-day triumph over the bogeymen of QPR would be some way to start.