Michael Laudrup, the new Swansea City manager, had made all the right noises in pre-season interviews. He would be keeping the team's passing style, he would have some surprises for opponents who thought they had worked Swansea out, and he had replaced the departed Joe Allen and Gylfi Sigurdsson with imports who represented better value than players available on the domestic market.
Talk, though, is cheap, and perhaps some expected that the reality of the Premier League would test to destruction the ideals of yet another former superstar player new to English football management. On Saturday his team gave an emphatic response with a 5-0 win at Queen's Park Rangers. The passes were still there, but the ball went forward earlier than usual on occasion – and his three summer signings shone.
Laudrup has played for Barcelona and Real Madrid, but his management CV includes the lesser lights of Getafe and Real Mallorca and he understands that a smaller club imposes different demands on both coaches and players. Michu, 26, from Rayo Vallecano, who scored twice on Saturday, and two of his former Mallorca men, defender Chico Flores and midfield player Jonathan De Guzman, were brought in with that in mind – and for only £4m, thanks to Laudrup's knowledge of the Spanish game.
"I saw Michu for 25 games last season and the ones that I didn't see live I saw on DVD before we bought him," Laudrup said. "Of course, you can never know how they will do and it is still early to say. But what I can say is that he already fits in with the mentality of the team because they are players who are used to fighting. They don't come from Barcelona or Real Madrid. They have come from smaller clubs. That's the same mentality as Swansea.
"That's important when you bring players in, especially from abroad, because sometimes you can bring in players who are good but they need maybe six, seven or eight months to fit into the style, to the culture or the city, and we don't have that time. But we are talking about players from the highest level. We can talk about some small differences between the Premier League and La Liga but they are the two best leagues in the world."
Although Michu caught the eye and scored the game's best goal with a curling first-time shot, Flores stood tall in the centre of defence during QPR's best spell around the half-hour, when an equaliser might have led to a very different outcome. And Laudrup is well aware that one result proves nothing.
"Next week we have another game. We can't think now because we won away at QPR, we'll win at home against West Ham. I may not have been in this league before, but I have still been in football a couple of months."Reuse content