Laudrup has made Swansea more efficient
If there was one thing that Swansea could be criticised for in their opening Premier League season it was, at times, over-passing the ball in their own defensive third.
December 4th, 2012
Passing amongst defenders and midfielders had little effect other than taking time out of the game, and – when coupled with the relatively few goals scored in that season – it led to a few fan frustrations. Liverpool are now undergoing similar frustrations as Brendan Rodgers settles into his new post at Anfield; but Swansea, with Michael Laudrup now in the manager’s seat, look to have added a cutting edge to their possession game.
Early in the season, when speaking to Guardian journalist Stuart James, Laudrup gave an insight into his thoughts on the game. “When I see a game on the television, and you see afterwards ‘possession percentage 60-40’, that doesn’t say anything for me because it could be that one team is playing the ball between the back four 120 times. It’s the same as when someone says, ‘Look, one of the central defenders had 98% good passes’. Yeah, but it was from here to there [five yards apart]. For me, possession is to keep the ball while you are waiting for the possibility to penetrate. Every pass is for a reason.”
As such, it’s not surprising to see that Swansea’s average possession stats have dropped this season, from just under 60% with Rodgers in charge to 55% under Laudrup. Nor is the fact that their goals per game has risen, from 1.15 under Rodgers to 1.53 since Laudrup took over. That might not sound like much, but over the course of a league season equates to about 14 more goals, a stat which would have seen them finish as the sixth highest scorers in the Premier League in 2011-12.
That increased goal scoring efficiency can be seen in the individual stats as well. Whereas Swansea’s top scorers last season, Danny Graham and Scott Sinclair, averaged 6 and 8.7 shots per goal respectively, this season’s revelation, Michu scores a goal for every 4.05 shots taken. It should come as no surprise that the £2m Spaniard has been central to Swansea’s upturn in fortunes; alongside countryman Pablo Hernández he offers the Welsh outfit a more direct threat when needed, and is proving himself to be the bargain of the season.
Having already collected just shy of half the points that Swansea managed in the whole of the 2011-12 campaign, Laudrup’s attempts to turn his side into a more potent attacking threat, whilst retaining the core of their possession based ‘philosophy’ are proving to be fruitful. If they can continue such form, and taking scalps like they did at the Emirates, why shouldn’t the Swans dream of that top ten finish, and perhaps even a foray into European competition?