Here at Fantasy Football Cheat we have decided to take a closer look at one of the most talked about players in the FPL – Michu. The attacking Swansea midfielder suffered a post Christmas goal drought prompting many fantasy managers to sell him, but is it the right call not to have the Spaniard from now through to the end of the season? Here at Fantasy Football Cheat we take a closer look at the player, and his prospects, for the remainder of this year’s Premier League campaign.
In the summer of 2011 Premiership Scouts from Wigan and Spurs were alerted to the talents of an attacking midfield player from La Liga outfit Celta Vigo who was available on a free transfer. Neither was interested. Fast forward 12 months to 2012 and both Clubs were offered another chance to sign the rising star who was now playing for Rayo Vallecano and had finished the season as La Liga’s top scoring midfield player. A buyout clause of £2.2m still failed to impress them and by deciding to shop elsewhere their scouting networks committed a serious blunder. The new Swansea Manager, Michael Laudrup, acting on the advice of his Spanish Scout, Eric Larsen, decided to take a punt on this midfield gem and Swansea completed the signing of Miguel Pérez Cuesta, better known to us all as Michu. His introduction to the EPL has been nothing short of miraculous and the goal scoring midfielder has been the driving force behind Swansea’s impressive season which culminated in their first major piece of silverware in 101 years when they won the Capital One Cup in February and qualified for Europa Cup Football for 2013-14.
Michu was highly rated in Spain, but with only one impressive season behind him, it looked a big ask for him to continue his form in the Premier League. However, the reality is that he has repaid that £2m price tag and then some and has repaid Michael Laudrup’s faith ten-fold. Any doubts over Michu’s class were soon put to rest with a crushing 5-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers on the opening day of the season; Michu scored two, set up another and was voted man of the match. It was a dream start for the Spaniard and one he would continue. Michu scored in his first three games.
Now you may be wondering why we have decided to publish a player review on a midfielder that is currently owned by 44% of FPL Managers. The reasons are fairly straight forward if you consider this:
- His Value has increased by £1.5m from the start of the season.
- He has banged in 17 Premiership Goals-joint leader with Gareth Bale for his position.
- Swansea have a Double Gameweek coming up in GW 36.
- He is regularly played out of position by Laudrup.
- He has scored 173 points this season placing him in overall 6th position and with a game in hand on most of his peers.
- He is back in form with 2 goals in his last two matches and currently tops the Form Rankings for a Midfielder and is ranked 3rd overall of all players.
- He can score against the best in both the League and the Cup; just ask Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd and Spurs.
Let’s take a look at how Michu is used by Laudrup. Some may believe that he was brought in as a playmaker, well you’re wrong, he was brought in for one thing only, to score goals! In order to explain this we need to break down a typical game and his contribution whilst on the pitch and how Laudrup utilises his talents. The vast majority of passes to Michu in the oppositions half are short. This is because Swansea want to get the ball to him as soon as he’s in a position where he can threaten the goal. This gives us an insight into how he plays and the job Laudrup wants him to do. Michu is on the pitch to receive the ball in the opposition’s half, or the attacking third and get into a shooting position, or get the ball to a team mate and then advance to a goal scoring position ready to receive.
Michu’s main responsibility is to score goals, sounds simple, but it isn’t. In his 30 league appearances this season he has scored 17 goals yet for a midfielder, especially a centralised midfielder, to commit so heavily to getting forward requires great off the ball positioning and an intelligent football brain. If he commits to the wrong move, doesn’t track his player or switches off at any point, then the team can be left wide open. Also, when players like Michu are not scoring goals it can seem like the team is having to carry him.
Now if we were to identify where Michu scores his goals you would see that the majority are centralised and in the box. Positions you would relate more to a striker than a midfielder. This shows his mind-set – to get in the box and to score goals. There are very few players in the EPL that are capable of playing this role, especially without compromising their team. It’s an extremely hard and energy sapping position to play well. One player who was excellent at playing this role was Van Der Vaart. Under Harry Redknapp Tottenham were a team to be fearful of and Van Der Vaart’s role was key to this. It’s harder for defenders to pick up attacking midfielders than it is strikers as their positioning is dictated by their defensive line. When defending their goal, defenders can’t break the line and advance too far forward, so it’s hard for them to track the run of attacking midfielders and it’s usually left to the midfield.
For those of you that got rid of Michu when he went through a recent lean spell (I was not one by the way!) remember this, attacking midfielders like Michu are often overlooked when they aren’t scoring goals. This is because their position is constantly evolving throughout the game and their performance is heavily reliant on the service they receive. When attacking midfielders get frustrated and end up chasing the ball then their team loses its shape and cannot function effectively. Incorporating such an attack minded midfielder means playing a lone striker, and if the attacking midfielder loses position then the striker becomes isolated. Players like Michu need a target man, serving to hold up the ball and play in their goal scoring midfield counterparts. At times this didn’t work at Swansea and so Laudrup, who realised the predicament the Swans were in by not offering an attacking outlet for Michu, played a masterstroke, his trump card, his ace……………. he switched Michu to center forward! If his forwards couldn’t assist Michu in scoring he would just take them out of the equation. By making Michu a striker, fantasy managers realised that the Spaniard was gold dust, a midfield player who was playing regularly out of position as a forward, his ownership rocketed from 2.5% in GW1 to 44% by GW33 and his value from £6.5m to £8.0m. Michu was able to fulfil Laudrups masterplan as he was assisted by the Swans midfield consisting of De Guzman, Routledge, Hernandez and Dyer.
Michu has been a revelation this season. His consistency has been, well consistent and even when compared to other goal scoring midfielders he’s shown he can cut it with the best. Michael Laudrup and his scouting staff deserve a huge amount of credit for unearthing this gem of a player, who in my opinion has been one of the best buys of the season. He’s also a top bloke, in November 2012; Michu bought shares in former club Real Oviedo as they struggled to raise €2 million to stay afloat. “It’s my local club, a club I love, so I hope it will be enough,” he said. We salute you Sir!
Now Swansea have some tough games ahead, but the Double Gameweek in GW36 must make Michu’s inclusion very attractive. With a final run of matches that go Southampton (H) Chelsea (A) Man City (H) Wigan (A) Man Utd (A) and Fulham (H) some fantasy managers may feel that he doesn’t warrant a place in their starting 11. However, in our view, whilst there are some tough games in there, the prospect of an upcoming Double Gameweek, combined with the stats and facts contained in this article, surely mean that the attacking Spanish midfielder merits serious consideration as a player to own for the weeks ahead.
Will we see another import in the mold of Michu from La Liga, maybe so, with Spanish TV monies monopolized by Real Madrid and Barcelona to the tune of 50% of the annual revenue teams like Rayo and Celta are finding it difficult to compete with the wage demands of their players. The Golden Carrot that is the EPL still shines brightly, attracting the cream of talented players to these shores, and hopefully next time the Premiership scouts will not pass up the opportunity to sign another star.
This article was written by Eddy