Michu inspires rampant Swansea
Queens Park Rangers 0 Swansea City 5: Michael Laudrup's new regime gets off to the perfect start as QPR are left to pick up a lot of pieces
And to think that some people thought that Brendan Rodgers might be a hard act for Michael Laudrup to follow.
The Dane's first experience of English football was, he said, something he could not even have dreamt about as his Swansea City side inflicted a defeat of nightmarish proportions on Queens Park Rangers, and the fans who had travelled from South Wales were so delighted by their team's performance that their celebrations at news of defeat at West Bromwich Albion for Rodgers' Liverpool side were almost muted by comparison.
Laudrup's new signings all excelled, and in Michu, a £2 million arrival from Madrid club Rayo Vallecano, he appears to have unearthed a gem at a budget price. Fifteen goals from midfield in La Liga last season hinted at his potential, but two strikes today – one lucky, one sublime – were only part of the story. He played the game at his pace, strolling through his Premier League debut while QPR buzzed around at many times the speed but to almost negligible effect.
Elsewhere, two players managed by Laudrup at Real Mallorca also impressed. Jonathan de Guzman, on a season-long loan from Villarreal, directed operations in midfield and delivered a series of dangerous set plays, while Chico Flores, £2 million from Genoa, was a calm presence in defence.
Not a bad haul for £4 million? "Sometimes it's about knowing people, but it's also about them knowing the football we'll play here," Laudrup said. "Especially in Spain there are huge economic problems so you can get a lot of quality for reasonable amounts right now.
"You have to look at the personality as well. They are all players who played in smaller teams in Spain, so they are used to playing for smaller clubs but they have the personality to do it. But of course it's easy to speak about it today because one of them scored two goals and we won. We know that bad days, bad weeks and even bad months will come and we have to use what this has given us in the future. As a small team that's important."
For QPR, it was an unexpected and unwelcome echo of last season, when they lost 4-0 at home to Bolton Wanderers on the opening day. They would point out that they survived and Bolton went down, but after signing eight new players in the summer, Mark Hughes, the manager, must have been concerned at how little the Premier League experience he emphasised had counted.
The former West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green, especially, will want to forget the opening goal, almost a reprise of his notorious blunder in England's 1-1 draw with the United States at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In Rustenburg he fumbled Clint Dempsey's shot, yesterday he dived over a half-hit effort from Michu in the eighth minute after Wayne Routledge's advance had been halted by a tackle from Clint Hill.
Rangers could have levelled within minutes, but when Jamie Mackie's shot squirmed past Michael Vorm, Flores calmly stopped it on the goalline before clearing, and after that Swansea dominated. Flores headed against the crossbar from de Guzman's corner after 40 minutes, then Green punched another corner out to Michu, only for his snap shot from six yards to hit the same section of woodwork.
But the languid midfield man would not be denied and after 53 minutes he doubled Swansea's lead with an early goal-of-the-season contender. Routledge surged down the left and Michu met his low diagonal pass first time 18 yards out, his left foot swerving the ball around Green before Fabio could challenge.
Rangers' discipline evaporated, and Routledge created the third after 63 minutes, profiting from Michu's interception of Fabio's pass to charge forward and set up Nathan Dyer, who beat Green from 20 yards. Dyer then made it 4-0 from a few yards closer after substitute Kemy Agustien had opened the Rangers defence with a simple lofted pass. And there was still time for Scott Sinclair, who has declined to sign a new contract to net a fifth with another low shot.
Laudrup had promised that Swansea would get the ball forward faster this season, and the fourth goal especially was almost route one.
"After we conceded the first goal we played into Swansea's hands," said Hughes. "They are able to control possession and invite teams on to them and it was perfect for their game plan. If you are gung-ho at Premier League level, you get picked off. Maybe it's good it has come now and we're under no illusions that it is going to be a difficult league this year."
QPR (4-1-4-1): Green; Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill (Wright-Phillips, 65), da Silva; Diakite (Derry, 86); Mackie, Park, Taarabt, Hoilett; Cisse (Johnson, 77).
Swansea (4-2-3-1): Vorm; Rangel, Chico Flores, Williams, Taylor; de Guzman (Agustien, 70), Britton; Dyer (Sinclair, 77), Michu (Gower, 84), Routledge; Graham.
Referee: L Probert
Man of the match: Michu (Swansea)
Match rating: 8/10
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