Harry Redknapp keeps the faith but Michu leaves QPR without a prayer

Both these teams are in Dubai, taking advantage of a two-week break in fixtures to combine a few days R&R with some warm-weather training.

The difference is that while Swansea have a cup final to come back to, Queens Park Rangers may be tempted to stay.

As an avid follower of the sport of kings, Harry Redknapp loves a handicap but he could do without the burden he inherited from Mark Hughes at the Premier League's bottom club, where he needs a Devon Loch from his rivals if he is to triumph against mountainous odds. When Redknapp took over from Hughes, QPR had failed to win any of their first 13 league games, from which they had taken a paltry four points. Under their new master they have managed 13 from 13, but their 4-1 drubbing at the Liberty Stadium leaves them four points adrift at the bottom, in need of a footballing miracle if they are to survive.

Ever the optimist, Redknapp points out that he has been there and done it before. At Portsmouth he took over a relegation-bound team in December 2005 and masterminded a revival that brought 20 points from the last 10 games [six wins and two draws] and the security of 17th place. In the two seasons that followed Pompey finished ninth and eighth. "The situation was similar‚" Redknapp said. "What happened then is what we need now, and yes, I'm confident. I know it's going to be hard, and I think it will go to the wire, but it's not impossible."

On Saturday's lame performance no sane observer would give QPR a prayer, but there were mitigating circumstances. Júlio César, who was to blame for three of the goals conceded, was injured and should not have played, Bobby Zamora is soldiering on in need of surgery on a hip condition and Loïc Rémy, the new striker on who Redknapp is pinning his hopes, was absent with hamstring trouble.

In the circumstances, Rangers were easy prey for an impressive Swansea team who are up to seventh, playing football of a quality that merits a European place. They have been known locally as "Swanselona" for a long time now, since Roberto Martínez first made his mark in management, and the good work carried on by Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers and now Michael Laudrup has won them new fans everywhere.

Redknapp and Laudrup provide an interesting contrast – old school English versus new European. QPR's veteran Anglo-Saxon was bemoaning his lack of the archetypal centre-forward to "lead the line" while his Spain-educated Danish counterpart prefers to play without one.

Michu's two goals took his tally for the season to 15 in the Premier League and 18 in all competitions, but neither he, nor the man who bought him, see him as a conventional No9. The £2m bargain from Rayo Vallecano said: "I prefer to play behind the front line. Playing there, you have the surprise factor. Most of my goals come from the second line. I think I'll always score more from there."

Michu pointed out that it is common in Spain to play without an orthodox striker, leaving it to attacking midfielders to fill the void, and that he was doing that with Pablo Hernández, Jonathan de Guzman and the much improved Wayne Routledge.

Laudrup said of his most successful import: "Too many people look upon him as just a goalscorer. He is much more than that." The Swansea manager added that he was delighted by his side's progress. He said: "To have 37 points after 26 games and to be in a cup final then yes, we are definitely ahead of schedule."

His only concern is the ankle injury that threatens to keep his centre-half Chico Flores out of the Capital One Cup final against Bradford on 24 February.

Man of the match Michu (Swansea City)

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Joe Lovejoy at Liberty Stadium, for The Guardian on Sunday 10th February 2013 23.00 Europe/London

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