Laudrup: Swansea prove that patience pays off
Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup believes his side's emphatic League Cup final win over Bradford City was a fitting reward for the long-term strategy the club have pursued.
The south Wales side swept to a 5-0 victory over their fourth-tier opponents at Wembley Stadium on Sunday to mark their centenary year with a first major trophy.
As a Premier League side, Swansea went into the game as overwhelming favourites, but 10 years ago they were in a position not dissimilar to Bradford's, narrowly avoiding relegation from the Football League in 2003.
In later years, as Swansea climbed the English league pyramid, the club developed a reputation for playing attractive football under successive coaches Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa and Brendan Rodgers.
Laudrup took over when Rodgers left for Liverpool last year and the former Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid playmaker believes the club's maiden trophy success owes much to the work put in before he arrived.
"The philosophy has been there for the last six to seven years and it makes it easier because every time you get a manager with the same philosophy, you look for the same kind of player," he said.
"You don't have to change four or five players in the starting XI like you see at other clubs, when you change completely from one type of manager to the next.
"If you look at it economically, in terms of money, it's a very good thing to do as well."
Bradford were the first team from England's fourth division to reach the League Cup final since Rochdale in 1962 and although the occasion ultimately got the better of them, Laudrup said their achievements deserved to be remembered.
"To have the trophy is great, but the way we did it - 5-0, I don't have the numbers for possession, but I think they had their first shot on target after 85 minutes and only won two corners," said the Dane.
"That says a lot about our performance. We all know what Bradford did against Wigan, against Arsenal, in the two games against Aston Villa, against Watford as well.
"What they have done is absolutely outstanding and I think this final will remain in history, a small part because of us and a large part because of Bradford. I'm so happy for the way we did it."
Nathan Dyer and Jonathan de Guzman each claimed a brace for Swansea, with Michu also on target on an afternoon of one-way traffic at Wembley.
Swansea's players formed a guard of honour for their beaten opponents as Bradford's squad returned to the pitch after receiving their runners-up medals, and beaten manager Phil Parkinson saluted the gesture.
"The Swansea players clapping us down when the lads got their medals was a touch of class from everyone connected with Swansea," he said.
Bradford have been dogged by financial problems since being relegated from the Premier League in 2001, but their run to the League Cup final is reported to have earned the club around £1 million.
The team from the northern English county of Yorkshire currently sit in 11th place in League Two and Parkinson said the challenge now facing his club was to capitalise on the fruits of their incredible cup run.
"I firmly believe this team is good enough to be a lot higher in the league than we are," he said.
"The big picture for us as a club is that the revenue we've earned from this cup run can strengthen this club for years to come.
"Between the chairman and myself, we've got to make sure we use that wisely and build a strong structure for the years to come, and we will do that. There's huge potential at Bradford and the club is ready to go forward."