Michael Laudrup: King of Denmark, hero of Swansea

Ahead of the Capital One Cup final between Swansea City and Bradford City on Sunday, A Different League asked Peter Schulz, a freelance journalist based in Denmark, to offer some insight into how Michael Laudrup is viewed at home.

In Denmark he has long been considered the closest thing to royalty we have – apart from the actual royals, of course – so it’s hardly surprising that Michael Laudrup has already taken steps towards the same kind of status in England – and certain parts of Wales.

Throughout his career in Denmark and abroad the now 48-year-old Laudrup has built up a reputation for being someone who behaves impeccably with a certain dignity and class – at least in public, because in truth not much about his personal life is known.

He famously very nearly joined Liverpool during the glory years in the mid-1980s but while both parties went on to enjoy considerable success without each other’s company, it was always kind of inevitable that one day Laudrup would find his way to the Premier League.

And thus it’s no real surprise that he has not only taken the league by storm by further developing on the good work done at Swansea by predecessors Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers, but also seemed to win over the football-following British public.

They see what we have always seen: a man with class.

After enjoying his successes with Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Ajax and hanging up his boots he joined Denmark manager Morten Olsen as an assistant coach for two years before taking up the reigns at Brondby, assisted by John Jensen.

He managed to win the Danish Cup twice and the league once, in 2005, before an acrimonious split a year later. Coincidentally, Brondby have since then fallen from grace and the club currently finds itself bottom of the league and in serious danger of going into administration.

Laudrup took a year out and joined Getafe in the summer of 2007, taking over from Bernd Schuster, who had been headhunted by Real Madrid.

He reached the Copa del Rey final in 2008, losing to Valencia and took Getafe to the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup, where Bayern Munich won on away goals after extra-time. But despite his huge popularity in Spain he was to manage Getafe for only one season.

After press links with Blackburn Rovers a stint at Spartak Moscow followed in late 2008 and early 2009 but Laudrup seemed doomed from the beginning, finally being sacked after seven months.

2010 saw Laudrup take over at Mallorca, a club in deep financial trouble, and despite managing to avoid relegation in his first season, having lost several players because of said problems, he resigned in September 2011 after his assistant Erik Larsen – also now at Swansea – was sacked.

So here he is taking Swansea to a major cup final in which the team will be massive favourites to lift the trophy. It has been a long journey and even back home he has had lots of doubters question his ability as a manager. For now, at least, he is keeping them very quiet.

Most of the rest of the country regularly fold their hands in prayer that he will soon come back to manage Denmark. That doesn’t look like happening any time soon because if Laudrup manages to win over the doubters in the Premier League, why leave?

And incidentally, he has just appointed former Celtic player Morten Wieghorst, the other leading candidate for the national team job, as his assistant at the Liberty Stadium.

But despite a heavy loss at Anfield last weekend Laudrup will go to Wembley and lead out a Swansea side heavily backed to win the Capital One Cup final. If they succeed in beating Bradford City it would cap a brilliant first season in English football for Laudrup, who had to wait nearly 30 years for his chance to impress in Britain.

Did you know?

-Michael Laudrup’s uncle is Ebbe Skovdahl, former manager of Aberdeen.

-Michael Laudrup’s son is Andreas Laudrup, newly transferred from FC Nordsjaelland to St. Etienne

-Michael Laudrup and Jan Molby missed Denmark’s 1992 European Championship win over differences with manager Richard Moller Nielsen.

-Michael Laudrup is the older brother of Brian Laudrup…You probably did know that one

-But did you know that in Denmark, Michael is widely regarded as the better player of the two

Peter is a freelance journalist currently running langebolde.dk, a Danish-language website dedicated to the Premier League.

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