There is a saying in soccer that 2-0 is the most dangerous lead; teams get comfortable with their cushion and dial down their intensity and focus, allowing the other side to shift momentum and sneak back into the match. I hope that Swansea City’s first two games—which now see them sitting atop the table, if only for a few hours, with an eight-goal differential—are not the equivalent of the proverbial two-goal lead. A great start is of course exactly what Swansea boss Michael Laudrup hoped for, but let’s hope the early success, which has come surprisingly with relative ease, doesn’t lull the Swans into a false sense of security. This is the Premier League, after all.
But for now, a win is a win (is a win), and Laudrup is not only picking up where Brendan Rodgers left off, but adding to Swansea’s already pleasing style. First off, eight goals in two games would have been almost unheard-of last year. With 44 goals in 38 games last season, let’s just say the Swans weren’t exactly finding the net as well as their counterparts. Indeed, Swansea became the master of the one-nil victory last year, but also of the one (or two or three)-nil defeat.
The key difference so far has been the play of attacking midfielder/striker Michu, a summer acquisition, who has three goals in his first two matches as a newly minted Swan. He offers a steady target for Swansea’s defenders, who have a habit of slowly working the ball up the pitch, and he plays excellent passes forward, setting up teammates Nathan Dyer (are you reading this, Roy Hodgson?) and Danny Graham with chances near the box. Presenting himself to the ball confidently, making slashing runs, and playing pretty one-touches ahead and to his flanks—Michu is fitting into the system at Liberty so well that it’s at times difficult to remember that he wasn’t there last year.
And, even more than his performance, Michu’s attitude must be pleasing to Laudrup, the players, and the fans. He wants to play for Swansea. He’s happy there. He’s geling with his teammates. He’s passionate, and he wants to work hard to push Swansea up the table. It’s a beautiful thing to see.
Ian and Macca apparently agree. I stole the title from their always witty banter as the game wound down this morning. Nothing like waking up at 6:30 AM, brewing some French roast, and watching Swansea on my ten-inch television. Thank you to the anonymous employee who designed their all-white home kits; they made for very easy, non-squinted viewing this time around. Cheers.