After last year’s success under the direction of Brendan Rodgers, Swansea City were celebrated for having one of the finest debut seasons out of any newly promoted side since the inception of the Barclays Premier League. Unlike other beginners making their first tenuous steps in what is arguably the strongest division in world football, Swansea approached the opportunity without fear, bravely playing out the philosophy that had served them well in the Championship. With limited financial resources and a side that at first seemed to lack the quality expected at the top level, the Welsh outfit proved to be a breath of fresh air, adopting the world famous tiki-taka style that focuses on simplistic, but devastating offensive play.
With Joe Allen and Leon Britton serving as the fulcrum of the team, Swansea were soon impressing their peers with their cogent passing network that none too subtly resembled the methods of Xavi, Iniesta and co. in Catalonia. Assuming triangles that slowly advanced up the pitch as a stalking Tiger does in the long grass, the newcomers suffocated their opposition with well-drilled ball retention, leaving opposing players chasing the game, which proved to be most devastating for sides in the lower half of the table. Double-barreled with a high-pressing defensive line, and each member of the team willing to chase and harass opponents when out of possession, the Swans soon became a force to be reckoned with, going about their business with a bold impudence that had pundits nodding their heads in approval.
Eventually settling in eleventh place, an admirable finish for a debut season, it was inevitable that Brendan Rodgers would attract the attentions of the big fish. Soon enough, Liverpool, having sacked Kop idol Kenny Daglish, began to circle, offering the former Chelsea youth coach the chance to manage one of the world’s most decorated clubs in history. Understandably, Rodgers did not refuse, and swiftly departed for Merseyside with Joe Allen in tow. Disappointed at the departure of a man who had worked so fervently to elevate Swansea to the main stage, the board set about finding a manager who could help the team continue to gather momentum and prevent stagnation. Now endowed with a panache that many teams envied, it was crucial that Swansea picked up where they left off.
Fortunately, Danish footballing legend Michael Laudrup was prepared to take up the mantle. Having resigned from his post at Mallorca in 2011 after the firing of his assistant Erik Larsen, Laudrup was seeking an opening that would give him the license to conduct the type of fluid attacking football that he had been accustomed to during his playing days at the likes Barcelona and Ajax. With both parties impressed by what they had seen, Swansea and Laudrup seemed like the perfect fit, and a two-year contract was agreed.