Macca relishing Laudrup duel

Neil McDonald is looking forward to locking horns on Saturday with a man he used to drool over during his playing days.

Back in the 1980s, West Ham United's assistant manager was a Newcastle United and Everton full-back and a huge fan of Swansea City manager and former Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Denmark attacker Michael Laudrup - a man considered to be his country's greatest-ever player.

While their paths never crossed on the pitch, largely due to the ban on English clubs competing in European competition, McDonald and Laudrup will face one another when West Ham host Swansea in the Barclays Premier League this weekend.

"He was a fantastic player, wasn't he? Wow!" said McDonald, when asked about Laudrup. "For somebody who played at the top level all the time, then to transfer that into management and try to get the best out of his players, is fantastic.

"I've got a lot of admiration for him. I went to watch a match years ago at Brondby and it was the first time I'd seen a manager with a leather jacket and jeans on and I thought 'Wow! I wouldn't mind being a manager and looking like that!"

"He is in control of himself and knows what he is doing and I've got a lot of respect for him."

Laudrup guided Swansea to ninth in the Barclays Premier League and League Cup triumph in his first season with the club last term.

This season, Swansea are through to the UEFA Europa League last 32 and the FA Cup with Budweiser fifth round, while a midweek win over Fulham has eased the Swans' relegation fears.

"As a manager, he has done very well," McDonald continued. "He has won a cup and his team play some very good football.

"We have taken a point off them already this season and we are hoping to take another three off them. It'll be a tough battle, that's for sure."

While West Ham may not pass the ball quite as often as Saturday's visitors, McDonald moved to downplay Jose Mourinho's comments that West Ham played '19th century football' against Chelsea in midweek.

"I think, if you've been to the majority of West Ham games, you can tell that we don't play like that all the time! Jose doesn't come and watch us all the time, either!

"We do play some really good football and we have scored the majority of our goals from open play, so I'd suggest we are not just a long-ball or defensive team. We have a mixture and football is all about getting results, and it doesn't matter how you get them.

"At times, you have to be route-one and sometimes you have to be expansive. We have a decent balance between those styles.

"There are lots of things we need to improve on this season - attacking, scoring more goals and trying to keep more clean sheets - but we have kept ten clean sheets this season and we just need to score more goals."

Speaking on Friday morning ahead of the closure of the transfer window, McDonald revealed that Ivory Coast midfielder Abdoul Razak has settled quickly into training with his new team-mates. The 22-year-old has joined on a short-term contract and will look to make his mark over the coming weeks.

"He has come in and trained with the rest of the boys and looked quite bright and decent on the ball. He is a midfield player which gives us good competition for places and we'll see how he develops over the next couple of weeks with his match-fitness and getting up to pace."