The following article is an analysis of Swansea City’s three seasons in the Premiership and is a comparison of Brendan Rodger’s and Michael Laudrup’s styles of play and what we can expect to see from Garry Monk if he is appointed manager at the end of the season. As there are 8 games left to play, the statistics of this season are incomplete, therefore take care when making direct comparisons with this season, but on the whole you can see the pattern of play when taking into account last season under Laudrup.
Defending and playing out from the back
Swansea conceded the same amount of goals in the Premiership under both Brendan and Laudrup in the first two years in league. With 28 games gone of the 2013/14 season, Swansea have conceded a higher ratio of goals per game with 1.41 as opposed to 1.34. The normally dependable Williams and Chico have looked shaky and it has taken until Monks appointment for them to come into form with a minimum of mistakes. Prior to Laudrups sacking, both Chico and Williams had made a combined total of 13 defensive errors as opposed to 1 under Brendan Rodgers for Steven Caulker and Williams.
Brendan Rodgers saw Ashley Williams as an integral part to his team due to his calmness on the ball and leadership qualities. The tables below reflect this, as it appears Laudrup gave him a lesser role in the team when in possession of the ball, and errors appeared to have crept into his game.
Laudrup supposedly tried to turn Swansea into a more direct team with more forward passes but the statistics below tell a different story. Under Rodgers 56% of Ashley Williams’ 2, 596 passes were played forwards (not sideways or backwards), but in Laudrup’s tenure he had less passes and an average of 36.5% were forwards.
Similarly, Caulker played 47% of his passes forwards compared to Chicos 41% for both 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons. As with Ashley Williams, Chico has made 4 defensive errors this season compared to none last season. This season the defence has not been as convincing when in possession or when defending. Both defenders had looked out of sorts, but since Monk has come in the central two have been on form despite the goals conceded against Everton, Liverpool and Napoli away, when Monk chased the game and went for the winner/equaliser resulting in the team being caught on the counter attack.
The above stats back up the fact that the defence was stronger under Brendan Rodgers with only 7 defensive errors being made in Swansea’s first season in the Premiership and then an incredible 31 being made under Laudrup in the 2012/13 season and this season it currently stands at 19.
The total number of passes in the team hasn’t changed too much in the past three seasons, however, as mentioned earlier, the total % of number of passes forward dropped down to the low 30’s from 40.49%. The old ‘Swansealona’ had now made way for a team that passed with no means to an end. Rodgers’ team was more pro active in going forward while Laudrup was more conservative and preferred the team to focus on sidewards passing to the wings.
Despite Laudrup being more ‘defensively minded’ and preferring the counter attack, Swansea made more defensive passes under Brendan. This was due to Swansea controlling the game from the back and bringing the ball out of defence using the central defenders and then onto Leon Britton in midfield who was then used as the pivot to dictate the play from the centre.
Looking at the table below, it’s clear that Swansea are always better off when Leon Britton starts the game. He was often out of favour with Laudrup but was a crucial member of Rodgers’ side. Swansea kept 11 clean sheets with him on the pitch and he played a higher percentage of passes forward (36%) which amazingly dropped to 25% this season. A telling statistic as he had less influence on the game. Again, since Monk took over Leon has been reinstated as king of midfield and has been back to his best.
Swansea made over 100 more successful dribbles under Rodgers than under Laudrup in the 2012/13 season. The team did however have more success in the crossing stakes and mins per clear-cut chances created. Michael Laudrups cautious approach saw less risks being taken with dribbles and were more accurate with crosses, unfortunately the attacking players were unable to convert said chances.
Wingers / inverted forwards
Below are the statistics for the 3 wingers that have been used most regularly over the past 3 seasons. Again, Dyer and Sinclair had more license to attack but it seemed that Laudrup’s use of inverted forwards didn’t get the best out of Dyer, having said that, it seemed to fit naturally for Routledge as he was allowed to drift inside on to his more natural right foot.
Care must be taken when looking at the stats for the forwards as Michu spent the first part of the 2012/13 season as an attacking midfielder. The most interesting thing about the forwards statistics is the amount of Aerial 50 – 50s Michu and Bony have compared to Graham. Laudrup wanted to get the ball up to the striker quickly and this is linked to the higher crossing stats mentioned earlier. It could also have been the reason why Swansea were more unstable in defence as losing the so many aerial battles would have resulted in losing possession of the ball allowing the opposition to attack. This was against Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy of keep the ball and the opposition can’t hurt you. The difference between Graham and Michu’s Aerial 50 – 50s are 82 and 238 respectively.
- Passing with a purpose
- Making the pitch as big as possible with the return of wingers
- More organisation in the team and defence in particular
- More emphasis of playing out from the central two defenders and Leon controlling the midfield
- Pressing the opposition quicker and higher up the pitch
- Having more faith in the players and giving them more responsibility and allowed to express themselves freely
Brendan always talked about how the players had to be courageous on the ball to win the game and to take risks, something that Laudrup didn’t favour. Towards the end of his tenure the team became stale and every move was predictable, it appeared he didn’t have much faith in this players and the team was too rigid. It must be noted however, that like his predecessors, Paolo Sousa and Roberto Martinez, Michael Laudrup has added huge value to the team.
Can Swansea continue to impress in the Premier League? You can bet on their games with a Ladbrokes code!
What can Swansea take from Laudrup’s reign?
First and most importantly he brought belief to the team that Swansea could compete in cups and win. The previous managers weren’t that big on the cup competitions but Laudrup has shown that if you put out a competitive team you have as good a chance as anyone.
Laudrup added different elements to the Swansea way that we hadn’t had before :
- A plan B – Monk is still finding his feet and can take the best of the previous managers he’s worked under. Laudrup brought in a different perspective with the counter attacking and long ball aspect. Something that Garry Monk can keep in mind as he develops his own style of play and philosophy
- An increase in crosses which can help the Swans going forward as the team reverts to the wingers system. The overlap of the full back and ball in from the by line will benefit from Laudrups crossing ideas.
- A counter attacking style which could prove successful against the big teams and a belief that you can win in the cups – Wins over Liverpool, Man United, Valencia
I will update this tactical analysis at the end of the season to take into account the switch in play and compare the differences.
Feel free to follow me on twitter and leave comments – @jon_inspire
If you are interested in coaching then check out my company www.inspirefootballcoaching.com for football conferences for professional and grassroots coaches.