Swansea City boss Michael Laudrup: Judge us at halfway point in season
MICHAEL Laudrup has insisted it is too early in the season to gauge the progress of his Swansea City side in the league that "never stops".
Swansea's highly creditable draw with Chelsea last weekend meant they maintained their position in mid-table having played ten Premier League games — the traditional first marker post in the season in the eyes of many managers.
But Laudrup says he will be unable to assess exactly how the land lies at Swansea until the back-end of December.
Laudrup's men play Reading on Boxing Day in what will be their 19th league fixture of the season — the halfway point in 2012-13.
And the Swansea boss reckons it is only then that he will be able to judge how his team are shaping up for the business end of the campaign.
"I can understand why people look at it after nine or ten games, because that's more or less a quarter of the league played," says Laudrup.
"But I prefer to wait until halfway through the season before talking about where we are.
"After 19 games you have normally played everyone in the division — although it is slightly different for us this year because we play Reading in our 19th game and then Fulham a few days later."
Were Swansea to take stock right now, they would be fairly happy with what they find.
The club have put yet another turbulent summer behind them and, despite a few teething problems, are 11th in the league table with a very respectable 12 points on the board — the same tally they had at this stage last year.
Swansea have also progressed to the last eight of the League Cup for the first time in their history and, with Middlesbrough to come at home in the next round, have a realistic chance of making the semi-finals.
For the moment, though, the focus is on the Premier League, and Swansea head for Southampton this weekend with more momentum than at any stage since Laudrup took over.
"Without doubt the players have gained confidence from three big performances last week," Laudrup adds.
"But we have to move on from that now, because those three games are in the past.
"You can enjoy those performances for a couple of days, but now we have to go to Southampton and then to Newcastle the week after.
"Then we have three games in six days against Liverpool and West Brom at home and Arsenal away.
"It really never stops, because after that we have four days that will be very important for this club. We play Norwich at home — we have to win — and then the quarter-final of the cup.
"And then when you think it's all over, we have four games in nine days over Christmas and New Year.
"That's why we have to live in the present. We have to look at small blocks of important games."
A small block which had a big impact came last week, when Swansea saw off Liverpool on their own patch, drew with Chelsea and were unlucky to go down 1-0 at Manchester City.
"The way we played did not surprise me because there was a lot of motivation for the players and we also have quality in our team," says Laudrup.
"Even though it was the third game in a week, I said before Chelsea that I knew we would get a good performance.
"But that is gone now. Now we have to focus on Southampton."