x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Swansea shoulder favourites tag ahead of Capital One Cup final

Michael Laudrup knows everyone expects the Swans to win the English League Cup while Michu insists he wants to stay with the club.

Despite interest from bigger clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea, Swansea's 26-year-old Michu, right, says he is happy right where he is.
Despite interest from bigger clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea, Swansea's 26-year-old Michu, right, says he is happy right where he is.

Michael Laudrup says Swansea City must embrace the burden of expectation going into this month’s Capital One Cup final against Bradford City at Wembley Stadium.

“We have to accept we’re favourites,” Laudrup said.

“We have to be because we’re playing in the Premier League and they’re in League Two. That’s just how it is.

“It’ll be a huge game for everybody.

“Before the quarter-final against Middlesbrough I asked my team who had ever played in a cup final; one player only, Pablo Hernandez, when he was with me five years ago in Getafe.

“So this is about the trophy.

“But it’ll be the same or even more so for Bradford.

“Imagine a fourth division team going to Wembley, with 90,000 fans [in the stadium]. So if we’re talking about being a little nervous before the final it goes for them as well.”

With Swansea on the verge of a first major title, and currently in seventh place in the English top flight, the Danish manager acknowledges that his side have far exceeded all their pre-season predictions.

“When I came in July we talked about ‘second season syndrome’ and then lost key players, so everybody thought we’d struggle,” Laudrup said.

“So to have 37 points after 26 games and be in a final is way ahead of what I could’ve imagined.”

Meanwhile Michu says he remains committed to Swansea City despite rumours linking him with some of Europe's most successful clubs.

The Spaniard, a £2.2 million (Dh12.5m) signing last summer from Rayo Vallecano, is widely regarded as the bargain of the season, scoring 18 goals in 32 matches as the English Premier League side have risen to seventh in the table and reached the final of the Capital One Cup.

Such form has reportedly attracted interest from both Real Madrid and Barcelona, while Atletico Madrid and Chelsea have also been linked with a summer move.

However, Michu last month signed a contract to extend his stay with Swansea until 2016 and, speaking yesterday during his side's mid-season training camp in Dubai, reiterated his desire to continue at the Liberty Stadium.

"I'm happy at Swansea," said Michu, 26. "If we win the final we go into Europe so I'm very happy at the club and not thinking about these teams. I'm enjoying only my time here."

Michu, an attacking midfielder who has been operating this season as a striker, sits behind only Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez in the Premier League's goalscoring charts.

Saturday's brace against Queens Park Rangers increased his top-flight tally to 15, ending a run of six games without a goal.

Michu, though, says he never doubted he would be a success in England.

"I believe in my quality," he said. "It's difficult for the first year as most people need time to acclimatise to the Premier League, but Swansea is a small team, like a family, and that makes it easier.

"We can win, we can lose, but we always try to play good football. We're in a good position in the league and to maybe win a title and get into Europe would be a great season."

 

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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