Michu: The Fallen Hero
Posted by Matt Walters | Published on February 19, 2016
The date is the 8th of January. The location is Asturias in the North of Spain and Miguel Perez Cuesta, a once-capped former Premier League star begins to rebuild his injury-ravaged career at 4th division side UP Langreo.
It seems like decades have passed since Wembley where the Spanish poacher reached the peak of his club career in lifting the league cup for Swansea. Their first major trophy in their history. Or even his first and only international cap for World and European champions Spain against Belarus where his scintillating form from the previous season which saw him score 22 goals in 42 appearances was rewarded by Vicente del Bosque as he came in for the injured David Villa to begin what looked like a late-blooming international career. It never happened.
Having scored 15 goals in 37 league appearances for Rayo Vallecano in 2011-12, Michu seemed to be a good signing for lowly Swansea City and a good replacement for Icelandic ace Gylfi Sigurdsson whose loan expired at the end of the previous season. The plan for boss Brendan Rodgers had been to sign him permanently that Summer but the Northern Irishman’s departure to Liverpool meant that a few more players would need replacing. The outgoing Joe Allen was replaced by the two-year loan signing of Villareal’s Dutch-Canadian midfielder Jonathan de Guzman, Steven Caulker’s return to Tottenham paved the way for Chico Flores and Scott Sinclair’s move to Manchester City allowed the club to spend a then record £5.5m on Valencia winger Pablo Hernandez.
While de Guzman and Chico are remembered with fondness at the club; the most important signing turned out to be that of Michu. The Spaniard was signed to play behind striker Danny Graham and create chances but the former Oviedo man proved himself to be a fantastic goal-scorer on his debut away to QPR, scoring 2 and setting up Scott Sinclair’s final goal for the club in a 5-0 humiliation of the London club. It was described by new boss, Michael Laudrup as a dream. Michu had made his mark.
He scored against teams big and small and made sure cynics knew he wasn’t just “in form”. In January, Michu and Graham scored in a 2-0 away win against European Champions Chelsea which set up a thrilling second leg at the Liberty, overshadowed by Eden Hazard’s red card for kicking a time-wasting ball boy.
On the 24th of February. Swansea went to Wembley to face Bradford City who had pulled off giant killing after giant killing to reach the final. They had no answer that night as long-serving winger, Nathan Dyer and Jonathan de Guzman scored two each and Michu scored a well placed finish in another 5-0 drubbing. It was Swansea’s first major trophy in their centenary year.
Michu ended the season with 22 goals and, unsurprisingly the hearts of every supporter. He was rumoured to be the subject of multi-million pound bids from giants like Arsenal. It would have been a decent profit for a player who cost Swansea £2m the previous Summer. Swansea resisted every bid and even reinforced with the signing of Ivorian striker, Wilfried Bony who had won the Golden Boot in the Eredivise with Vitesse that year
Michu seemed to carry that form with him to the Europa league qualifier against Malmö FF where both he and Bony got off the mark for the season. He didn’t have the same impact and despite his international call-up and Swansea’s unforgettable 3-0 away win to Valencia, ended the season with just 6 goals in a season where injuries frustrated him. His behaviour was bizarre. A sloppy goal conceded would cause him to fume at his teammates and famously a cross from young full back Ben Davies which he failed to connect with caused him to kick an advertising board in rage. Laudrup was sacked and replaced by long-suffering skipper Garry Monk and a rumoured training ground bust up involving Chico Flores, Monk and a flying brick seemed to highlight the need for another revamp to the squad set up by Michael Laudrup.
The next season was the most successful in Swansea’s Premier League history as they finished with a record points tally in 8th. 3 points outside of Europe. However, having expressed his desire to leave the previous Summer, Michu was loaned out to Napoli where he was reunited with Jonathan de Guzman. However, a serious injury and two separate surgeries on his ankle meant he only appeared 5 times without scoring for Napoli in an average season for them.
Michu was released that Summer and joined his brother’s side; UD Langreo and has so far scored 3 in 3. Having rejected an approach from struggling Aston Villa, an interview with the BBC brought to light that the heroic poacher was hoping to regain fitness and return to the club who loved him, now without Monk and struggling for goals after Bony’s £28m move in January 2015. The King may yet come home.