A good time to have part in club with Hollywood film script
A MOVIE will be released this season charting the Hollywood story that is Swansea City’s rise from football’s gutter.
And the credits will roll when Brendan Rodgers’s class of 2011 reach the Premier League.
Yet the way things are going, they might have to start work on a sequel — Jack to a King II: The Prince of Denmark Years.
For a while this summer, it seemed ‘years’ would be overdoing it as far as the Michael Laudrup era was concerned.
Relations had become so strained between the club on one side and Laudrup and his agent on the other that a parting of the ways looked close to inevitable for a time.
Swansea’s owners felt as much, particularly after things got so fractious between them and Bayram Tutumlu that they cut all ties with Laudrup’s long-time representative.
But the world of football is an unpredictable one, and here Swansea are on the eve of a new season with Laudrup still very much in place and things looking rosy in the SA1 garden.
Tutumlu will not be seen as often in these parts and, though he leant on his right-hand man at times last term, Laudrup insists that will not be a problem.
After a summer which started with turbulence but ended with a flurry of encouraging new signings, the Dane appears content.
And that goes down as good news for Swansea after the successes of Laudrup’s maiden campaign at the helm.
There was no desire for change within the Liberty boardroom at the end of last season.
The boat only began to rock when stories of Laudrup’s unhappiness with Swansea’s recruitment policy started to surface, but now he seems happy with his lot.
Laudrup will not be Swansea boss in the long term — he has made that clear all along — but he is on board for a second season and is excited about what it might bring.
Anything Swansea can achieve in the cups will be a bonus, though surely it will asking too much for Laudrup’s men to match the feat of last term by putting another trophy on the mantelpiece next spring.
After one in 100 years, two pots in 12 months would seem unlikely.
Then again, no-one expected Swansea to win the 2013 Capital One Cup — and you can be sure Laudrup will take the knockout competitions seriously once more.
If the draws are kind, his team could go well again.
But Swansea will not be counting on any progress in the cups — particularly when the Premier League remains the overwhelming priority.
Swansea’s supporters are growing increasingly confident about their team’s progress in the top flight.
And for the first time since promotion two years ago, Swansea are not among the pre-season favourites to be relegated.
Far from it, in fact.
The bookmakers have the three newly-promoted clubs — Crystal Palace, Hull and Cardiff — as the trio who are most likely to go down.
Then come the likes of Stoke, Norwich, Sunderland and Fulham.
Swansea are in the middle of the Premier League pack along with the likes of Aston Villa, Newcastle, Southampton, West Ham and West Brom.
Laudrup and Co will hope they have called it right this time around, for mid-table is the target at the Liberty.
There may be some inside the club who, if 17th spot was offered now, would accept it and move on to 2014-15.
Another year in the top division, after all — and another year of all the cash which comes with the status — is the primary goal.
Yet Laudrup has made it clear that in his eyes, merely surviving is not enough.
He has been pointing out for a while that Swansea’s followers would not accept just staying up having finished ninth in the league last season and come home victorious from a big day out at Wembley.
And after a summer of hard work in the transfer market, Laudrup has a squad he feels can live up to the sensational standards of the previous campaign.
As things stand, Swansea have lost none of the stars of last term.
Some had said Michu and Ashley Williams would go the way of Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair but, with three-and-a-half weeks of the window remaining, the crown jewels remain in place.
Fingers crossed, as Laudrup keeps saying, it stays that way.
If nobody leaves, there can be no debate about whether Swansea are stronger now than they were last season.
There is still work to do — Laudrup wants one more striker — but already Swansea have secured the services of Wilfried Bony.
The Ivory Coast international arrived for £12 million, a fee that was almost unimaginable only 12 months ago.
This time last year, after all, the arrivals of Pablo Hernandez (£5.55 million) and Ki Sung-Yueng (£5.5 million) prompted raised eyebrows in these parts.
The prospect of Bony playing in front of Michu for most of the upcoming campaign is one that has mouths watering in this corner of South Wales.
Laudrup is excited, too, about Hernandez, who will hope for more consistency in his second season in the English game.
Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer offer further good options out wide, where Alejandro Pozuelo could also come into contention.
The young creator only cost around £500,000 — and already he looks a snip.
Pozuelo will be glad he prefers a more advanced role, for competition for a place further back in Swansea’s midfield is intense.
Jonathan de Guzman has returned for a second season-long loan believing regular football at Swansea will book him a place at next summer’s World Cup.
But he must perform in order to play given that Leon Britton, Ki Sung-Yueng and two more summer recruits, Jonjo Shelvey and Jose Canas, are also hunting game-time.
Shelvey has already staked a strong claim since his £5 million switch from Liverpool and, whoever is picked, some big players are going to be left disappointed.
Competition for places in defence is not as intense — left-back aside, perhaps — and it is crucial that the inspirational Williams sticks around.
Garry Monk has handed the armband to his mate this summer, a classy touch from Swansea’s long-time club skipper and a sign of the influence Williams has in the dressing room. It would be a heavy blow for Swansea should Arsenal firm up their long-standing interest with a bid which turns Williams’s head in the next few weeks.
If the worst did happen, the Wales captain would surely depart with a heavy heart, for Swansea are a difficult team to turn your back on just now.
This is the club, after all, with the Hollywood script, and now is a good time to have a part.