The football merry-go-round that is Premier League management continued this week with the axing of Swansea City chief Michael Laudrup. Most were surprised by the decision; Swansea were after all sitting in the relative mediocrity that mid-table brings (ssshh let’s not mention they were just 2 points above the bottom three) and this after playing the majority of the season without the services of Michu – who so brilliantly graced the Premier League in his debut season.
And for Laudrup, this is a manager who in some ways ‘completed’ what Martinez had begun some 10-years earlier, he had taken the club into Europe and, in the process, added some silverware to the club’s dusty trophy cabinet – something that had alluded the great city for the past XXX years.
Of course Laudrup’s biggest mistake was just that. Winning the League Cup. Remember Ramos? He rewrote the diet-book and took the Spurs side, painted as a ‘nearly-team’, to League Cup glory against the much-fancied Chelsea, one of the country’s elite sides, in the spring of 2008.
Spurs were talked about and admired in their own right; they had a splattering of stars amongst their ranks: Berbatov, courted by Man Utd; Robbie Keane, highly energetic and the ideal foil to the mercurial ‘Berba’; and then Ledley King, an immovable rock at the heart of the Spurs backline. The club was going places; investing heavily that summer on the back of their Wembley triumph. In came Darren Bent, England’s best-rated frontman at the time – forget what’s happened since; Luka Modric, now of Real Madrid fame; and finally, David Bentley, who was grabbing all the headlines at Blackburn Rovers. And so heralded the start of the season in which bookies finally believed this Spurs team could gate crash the top-4. How wrong they were. A mere two-points from the first eight Premier League games saw Ramos given his marching orders, and with a quarter of the season already gone Spurs were in a relegation battle – arguably where Swansea find themselves now.
And if the similarities in the managerial plight of Laudrup echo smacks of Ramos’s ill-fated reign after winning the much-maligned League Cup, who can forget the story of Alex McGleish and his Brum side that so infamously upset Arsenal in 2011. Just months later that same cup-winning team was relegated from the top-flight of English football, and whilst McGleish chose to controversially switch to Villa, he endured a torrid 12-months that ended with him biting the bullet.
It shouldn’t be terminal for Laudrup – he has undoubted quality and, thanks to a glittering playing career, remains a huge name in world football. If anything his story should act as a warning sign to others: winning the League Cup does little to appease the board and serves merely only to heighten the pressure on a team that is expected to stand-up more durably against the rest of it’s competitors.