Promising start should keep Swans in good stead
SWANSEA City aim to continue their rousing start to the season at Aston Villa this weekend with Michael Laudrup believing his team are getting stronger all the time.
According to the experts, Swansea were a side destined for not-so-great things after the latest turbulent summer at the Liberty Stadium.
But Laudrup's men have been the unlikely success story of the Premier League in the first few weeks of the new campaign.
And though these are still early days in what promises to be a taxing season, Laudrup reckons his side are on the up.
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"We have played three league games and got two wins and one draw," said the Swansea manager.
"It's been a very, very positive start, and you can see the team developing in every game we play."
Laudrup hopes for more of the same at Villa Park, the ground where Swansea chalked up their first away Premier League win at the tenth time of asking last season.
The Dane has never looked flustered during his first few weeks in the Premier League.
He even emerged with plenty to be happy about after Neil Taylor was stretchered off and Chico Flores was sent off in Swansea's draw with Sunderland last time out.
Having suffered for so long on their travels last term, Swansea opened up this campaign with a 5-0 romp at Queens Park Rangers.
They followed that with a 3-0 cruise past West Ham United and, after a Capital One Cup triumph against Barnsley, came the gallant scrap for a point against Martin O'Neill's Black Cats.
"It's a great start for us," Laudrup added.
"Pre-season is pre-season for all the teams in the league.
"I think before the first (competitive) game all managers, clubs and players have some doubts about how you will start in the league and where you are at this point.
"You wonder if you have covered for all the people who have left the club, that sort of thing.
"There are a lot of question marks always at this time of year, but our first few games have been very positive."
It has not all been good news, however.
First came the loss of Taylor for the rest of the season, and now it has emerged that Kyle Bartley is also facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Swansea have moved quickly to bring in defensive cover, scouring the list of free agents and plumping for Dwight Tiendalli.
The loss of Flores to suspension is also an irritation for Laudrup, who must do without his first Swansea signing for two league fixtures as well as the trip to Crawley in the next round of the Capital One Cup.
Flores's Sunderland dismissal is just about the only black mark against any of the numerous new faces brought to Wales by Laudrup in the opening weeks of this campaign.
Jonathan de Guzman has improved with each game Swansea have played, the Dutchman producing his most accomplished midfield performance yet against Sunderland.
And ahead of him, Michu has been sensational. The £2 million ex-Rayo Vallecano man is already being hailed as one of the signings of the season in the Premier League having notched up four goals in his first three Swansea appearances.
On top of that, there are others who are still to come to the Swansea party, most notably the two most expensive signings in the history of the club.
Big things are expected from Ki Sung-Yueng, the £5.5 million midfielder, and £5.55 million wideman Pablo Hernandez.
"Apart from Chico's red card, we have been very lucky with the way the new players have done," Laudrup said.
"Michu is the top scorer with four goals in three games, Jonathan is getting better all the time.
"Ki came on and did well against Sunderland, and we also have Itay (Shechter) now the paperwork is sorted out and Pablo is coming in as well."
It says everything about Swansea's early-season form that Hernandez, owner of four Spain caps, is destined for a place among the substitutes at Villa Park.
There he is likely to be joined by Ki on what will be comfortably the most expensive bench in Swansea's 100-year history.
If things are not going according to plan, Laudrup will not be able to complain about a lack of options should he to try to change the course of the contest.
Whether it is at Villa or a little further down the line, Swansea are well aware that after their spectacular start to the season, tougher times are sure to follow.
"We have seen some promising signs so far," said chairman Huw Jenkins.
"But we have all done this for long enough to know that the season is very long.
"Michael and the players all know that while it's great to have a good start, there are going to be ups and downs because that's always the case."
What is important is that the dark days do not outnumber the brighter ones.
On the evidence of his first few weeks in the job, Laudrup appears quietly confident that they will not.