Stoke City: Laudrup lauded for avoiding Swans dive
SWANSEA City deserve credit for taking the Michael when they were looking around for a new boss last summer.
That's the view of Stoke manager Tony Pulis as he prepares to square up to Swans chief Michael Laudrup in south Wales tomorrow (3pm).
Pulis says he is full of admiration for how Laudrup has silenced his early critics by taking Swansea to the brink of a Wembley final in the Capital One Cup and a possible top-10 finish in the Premier League.
"There were stories coming out earlier in the season that players there weren't happy with him," said Pulis.
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"He took a bit of criticism from within the dressing room and from outside, but he's certainly proved people wrong.
"He knows the Spanish players and I think he's worked that oracle really well. He's certainly impressed with the way he's set them up and the way they've played.
"He's brought in good players, and obviously the pick of the group is Michu."
Pulis says he has been lucky enough to spend quality time with Laudrup, a legend back in his native Denmark after his playing exploits, and has already gleaned useful information from the former Barcelona star.
"He came in and spent a good hour in the room after we played them earlier this season and I also bumped into him at a meeting for managers in Burton last Sunday.
"I found him very amicable, a nice man, and he's certainly settled in and he obviously knows his job.
"He came over from Spain and I think he's enjoying it here. And it's nice to talk to such people to get their views on English football and ask them about the differences."
Pulis says Laudrup deserves credit for pushing Swansea to build on the earlier improvement in their fortunes under his managerial predecessors Kenny Jackett, Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers.
"Everybody thought Swansea had reached their peak under Brendan," he observed, "but he's taken it on again.
"When Brendan left, people thought this is all going to fall in, but for a fourth consecutive manager who's gone in there, they've kept it going and actually improved."
Pulis, whose family will be out in force from the Newport region tomorrow, admits he would love to see Swansea joined in the top flight by Cardiff next season.
"As a Welshman it would be great to see two Welsh clubs in the Premier League," he added.
"In fact, it would also be nice to get Wrexham and Newport back in the league as well.
"Cardiff got to an FA Cup final a few years ago, so Swansea will be desperate to get there as well next week."
Swansea defend a 2-0 lead next week when they entertain Chelsea in the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final, and Pulis is in two minds about whether that will affect Laudrup's selection against Stoke.
"He left five or six out (against Arsenal in the FA Cup on Wednesday) who will play against us, so he has rotated it," said Pulis.
"I'm sure Wembley will be at the back of his mind, but he's too professional to let that affect him."