By Mike Collett
LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Michael Laudrup became the latest manager to fall victim to a jinx that has now claimed five of the last six men who led their clubs to victory in the League Cup final when the Dane parted company with Swansea City on Tuesday.
For apart from Alex Ferguson, every man who has led his team up the steps at Wembley to collect the trophy has left their cup-winning clubs before the next final was played.
There were other more compelling reasons rather than an alignment of the stars or a reading of runes that cost Laudrup his job, but few, if anyone, would have seen his departure coming when Swansea crushed Bradford City 5-0 to win their first major trophy a year ago this month.
The jinx began in 2007 and its first victim was Jose Mourinho, who was sacked by Chelsea seven months after his team beat Arsenal in the final.
Juande Ramos led Tottenham Hotspur to victory against Chelsea in February 2008 and was sacked eight months later with Spurs bottom of the Premier League after they won just three of their subsequent 20 league matches.
Alex Ferguson bucked the trend and kept his job after Manchester United won successive League Cups in 2009 and 2010 but Alex McLeish (Birmingham City 2011), Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool 2012) and now Laudrup departed before the following season's final.
Manuel Pellegrini of Manchester City and Sunderland's Gus Poyet have led their teams to this year's final which is at Wembley on March 2 and on the current form of their respective sides, neither looks likely to lose their jobs in the immediate future.
But that appeared to be the case with Laudrup, and most of the other jinx victims too, going into their respective finals.
This time last year Swansea, enjoying a fine second season in the top flight after winning promotion back in 2011 after 38 years away, were ninth in the table and beat Bradford City 5-0 for a record win in the final to secure their first ever major title and a place in the Europa League.
But since then, mirroring Spurs' poor league form after they won the League Cup, Swansea won only two of their remaining 11 league games last season and have won only six of 23 league games this season, losing six of their last eight.
Swansea have been hampered by the loss of Michu, their leading scorer last season and injured for much of this one, while teams also seem to have worked out exactly how to beat them.
Swansea are 12th in the table, but only two points above the relegation zone and, under caretakers Gary Monk and Alan Curtis, face their arch-rivals Cardiff City in the south Wales derby on Saturday.
Laudrup should find another job easily enough but in an odd way, winning the League Cup could prove to be the turning point of his managerial career in a way he could not have envisioned. (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)