How to hedge your Vetch....Swansea's old ground

How to hedge your Vetch….Swansea’s old ground

So the Bradford City bandwagon ground to a halt at Wembley and Swansea hammered the League Two side 5-0 in the Capital One Cup. Sympathy for Bradford that they come up against a club desperate to secure their first piece of significant silverware. In some ways, they may have had a better shout against a team more accustomed to lifting major prizes.

Some people bemoaned the fact that Swansea showed no charity even when they were 3-0 ahead. But why should they? How often have teams eased up when they’re ahead and come unstuck. And you only have to look at the Football League Cup archives to see that upsets do happen – Swindon Town 3 Arsenal 1, 1968-69; QPR 3 WBA 2 in 1966-67.

Bradford’s run was a fairy-story, if the macho world of football will allow such a description. They disposed of Wigan, Aston Villa and Arsenal on the way to Wembley, but they were never going to beat a Swansea team that provides a good example of how football should be played in 2013.

The Swans play as if they are gliding across the turf, rather like their manager, Michael Laudrup, used to play for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Denmark. Laudrup has continued where Brendan Rodgers left off, and how the Liverpool manager must wish he was back at the Liberty Stadium, where expectations are realistic and it is far easier to win friends than in the environs of Anfield.

Laudrup’s task now will be to keep together a side that has the potential to achieve more, although titles and Champions Leagues may be too much of an ask. Swansea are in Europe now and I bet they will enjoy it in 2013-14. Compare Swansea to the perennial under-achievers Aston Villa, Newcastle and countless others and you find a vibrant club that can become the flagship for middle-ground success.

That’s not meant to patronize, because realism tells you that Swansea will never be Manchester United, City or the London triumvirate (although the London clubs may feel the hot breath of the Welsh dragon on their necks). I sense they know it, too, but will be happy to be among the elite – and doing quite nicely – and picking up the odd prize and making forays into Europe. They took the League Cup seriously and reaped the rewards, it’s a pity that more do not follow suit.

What’s so good about Swansea is the refreshing way they play and the pleasure they seem to extract from it. Laudrup is the antithesis of Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis (and three cheers for that!) and the way players such as Michu, Nathan Dyer, Pablo Hernandez and Wayne Routledge have flourished as a result is a joy to behold. And it’s not been achieved by breaking the bank – Michu, with his 19 goals, must rank as the shrewdest piece of business of the season at just £5m.

Swansea are in danger of becoming everyone’s second favourite side – a bit like Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle in the mid-1990s and Bobby Robson’s Ipswich in the mid-to-late 1970s. Given they were on the brink of non-league football in 2003, it does show that patience and a bit of business acumen can change things – dramatically. Expect to see the name Swansea in lights more often in the years ahead…..