Laudrup: Enjoy the Europa League

Michu will be key to Swansea's chances at home and abroad this season.
Michu will be key to Swansea's chances at home and abroad this season. Photo: PA

Michael Laudrup wants his Swansea players to enjoy their Europa League experience, but has made it clear consolidation in the Premier League remains his priority.

Swansea face Swedish side Malmo tonight in the second leg of their Europa League third qualifying round tie, holding a 4-0 lead from last week's first leg in south Wales.

The Welsh club entered Europe thanks to their Capital One Cup success last season, and Laudrup has already suggested he believes they can "disturb" some of the big names lurking in the continent's second-tier club competition.

But, with the eagerly anticipated Premier League opener against Manchester United just nine days away, the Dane is happy to put any dreams of more silverware to one side if it ensures Swansea can back up their 11th and ninth place league placings from the last two seasons.

He said: "Success for us this season will be to consolidate the team as a mid-table side in the Premier League. That would be fantastic to do so for a third consecutive year.

"It's not easy because the teams below us last season have invested hard as they want to go up the table. Newcastle, West Ham and Southampton among others want to do that.

"We have the other competitions - the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League and we will just have to take them step by step. But the main thing for me is the Premier League."

To that end, Laudrup has viewed the two fixtures against Malmo as valuable preparation for the visit of David Moyes' United to the Liberty Stadium, and believes meaningful competitive action could give him an edge on the 19 other top-flight managers.

"When you go in from pre-season to the first game in the league I think every manager has doubts about where his team are," he said.

"I felt the same last season before we went to London to face QPR. You don't know how it will go.

"That is because friendly games are very different. The first half is okay but in the second half you get 15 changes across the two sides.

"But in competitive games, like these two we are playing against Malmo, you don't get that. So it is very good for us."

But Laudrup expects his players to revel in the chance to test themselves against Europe's best.

He said: "This is very different for the players. You have to enjoy it, especially when so many players have not tried it.

"They are used to knowing all the players, managers and stadiums in the Premier League, but know you see other cities and cultures and it is a great experience."