When the current Wigan manager, Roberto Martinez, took over Swansea City in 2007, they were plying their trade in League One. He planted a seed in the Swansea-system which was then taken over by former Queens Park Rangers manager and Portugal midfielder Paulo Sousa.
Then in 2010, Brendan Rodgers took the helm and helped them earn a place and a win in the English Championship play-off which secured their promotion to the Premier League.
In June 2012, Rodgers was replaced by the former Denmark midfielder, Michael Laudrup. Under Laudrup’s management, Swansea went on to not only win the 2013 League Cup but also finish in the top-ten of the Premier League – which in itself is quite a feat, keeping in mind how QPR are finishing bottom of the table.
These are amazing achievements for a club that was promoted to the Premier League in the 2011. This season’s journey recorded wins over Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium.
Speaking to Yahoo! as part of their deal with the League Managers Association, Michael Laudrup talked about his debut season in England, his personal highlights from the season, the first-ever Premier League South Wales derbies and much more.
Read the first part of the complete transcript of the Michael Laudrup interview below. You can read the second part of this interview here.
Michael Laudrup interview
Question: How have you enjoyed your first season in English football?
Michael Laudrup: It’s my first time here, I have never been here as either a player or as a manager, and it has been a huge experience. To win a trophy in my first season, with a club that has never won anything before, has been brilliant and I have enjoyed every aspect.
Q: How have you changed as a manager since coming to the Barclay’s Premier League?
ML: I don’t think I have changed that much in just nine months. I think I’m pretty much the same as I was last year.
Q: Did this season exceed all expectations for Swansea?
ML: You could say that. Winning a major trophy for the first time in the history of the club has exceeded all our expectations. It will be a season that will be remembered in this club, in this city, for many years to come. The 2012/2013 campaign will be remembered as something very special.
Q: It was quite a way to mark the club’s centenary wasn’t it?
ML: The final was a good match and a special year in every respect. So yes, what a perfect year to make history.
Q: Perhaps other than the obvious League Cup final victory, do you have another personal highlight from this season?
ML: Of course winning the final was the major moment, but in a season there are always ups and downs, always moments you remember particularly well. I think winning several difficult away games is a particular highlight, this season we won at Anfield, Stamford Bridge and The Emirates so there has been some very important wins in stadia where you normally don’t expect to come away with anything.
Q: What aspirations do you have for the club next season?
ML: It’s impossible to always move forward, but sometimes even maintaining the status quo is enough. At this club we cannot pretend to think that we are going to win another major trophy next year or even the year after that because that will be very difficult.
However, if we’re talking about the Premier League, I think we will have to improve just to stay where we are now. It’s a little early to set exact targets because we still have to get new players in but with our idea of the players we want, I think our target should be to try to at least stay mid table and consolidate ourselves as a Premier league side. It will be very, very tough to stay in mid table because some of the other clubs below us want to invest to improve.
Q: Are you looking forward to having a second Welsh club in the Premier League in Cardiff?
ML: Yes, I am, I’ve heard a lot about the Cardiff and Swansea games. I played in several derbies and other huge games in my playing career so I’m looking forward to experiencing a new one.
Read part two here.
For more insight from Michael Laudrup and other leading managers plus exclusive Premier League highlights go to www.yahoo.co.uk/sport