Welcome to the Premier League Francesco Guidolin!
I welcome him to the Premier League with open arms because he has the honour of holding one of my favourite stats: he has parted company with Palermo four times. Yes, four times.
Noted racist Enoch Powell once said that he would never write an autobiography because it would be like a dog returning to its own vomit. Guidolin seems to believe you get a good meal doing that. I wonder what Jose Mourinho made of the experience.
But if Swansea have never tried that particular canine delicacy, they are at least experimenting with their choice of coach. Bringing in Guidolin is hardly a safe move in Premier League terms.
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He does have experience of relegation battles in Serie A and has brought small clubs to the edge of glory in the past. But his only job outside of Italy was an abject failure at Monaco.
This isn’t like bringing in Sam Allardyce or Tony Pulis to get you out of a tough spot, they are certainly branching out. He’s clearly a wonderful coach, but it’s a baptism of fire in the Premier League. Swansea are in trouble, there’s no getting away from that.
Every time Swansea sack their manager – or lose him to a bigger club – the replacement is questioned. So perhaps by now we should be cutting Huw Jenkins some slack. After all, he seems to work magic every time. He’s the guy who seems to stumble, perennially, on the good decision. Or maybe he’s just so good at calculating the decision that it just looks like a fluke. Either way he deserves not to be negatively criticised straight away for this move.
After all, Garry Monk’s slide from top of the world to a guy who just couldn’t buy a win was marked. Even if he did do a great job up until the slide, something had to happen. Either Monk turned it around or he left. In the end he left. Fair enough, really.
But the way it’s all been handled since then just seems strange. So very unlike Swansea. And with the arrival of Guidolin, Swansea don’t seem to be doing the same shrewd business that they often have done over the past few seasons. At least, it doesn’t seem that way to me.
First of all, when you sack a manager in the middle of the season, it seems prudent to have a replacement lined up. You wouldn’t just quit your job without another one to go to. Not unless something went hideously wrong. And it’s been over a month since Monk left.
But more importantly, teams at the bottom of the table usually take the decision to shore up the team, to make them hard to beat and to try to grind out the wins and draws needed to stay up.
In this most important of Premier League seasons – I am, of course referring to the genetically modified cash cow of a TV rights deal that comes into play next season – it would seem like the smart move to go with unfettered conservatism in an attempt to bore your way into a fortune next season.
The Guidolin approach doesn’t seem like bringing in a Pulis or an Allardyce, it doesn’t seem at all like bringing in a safe pair of hands at all. I’m wary of being too Premier League centric, but bringing in a guy like Guidolin seems like a great appointment in July, but it does seem like a bigger gamble halfway through the January transfer window.
The approach of other teams around Swansea is to play safe in their attempt to stay up, but Swansea seem to have done a Fulham. When they sacked Martin Jol and brought in Rene Muelensteen and Felix Magath via Alan Curbishley and Ray Wilkins, that always seemed to smack of desperation and experimentation.
Swansea’s approach looks to be something similar at first glance. Sack Monk, appoint Curtis, then keep Curtis on the bench but bring in Guidolin. Somewhere, on a sofa near you, Alan Curbishley is impatiently waiting by his phone, not wanting to pop to the bathroom for fear of missing the call. Which is probably what explains his impatience.
It all seems that way on first glance. But that might be unfair. And on past performances, I’m inclined say that it might be. After all, with all the great work that the Swansea hierarchy have done to bring the club to where it is today and to churn out winning manager after winning manager they have earned the right to a bit of slack. They have earned the right not to be scrutinised too closely before the new man has even seen a ball kicked by his new players.
So it’s not just for the entertainment factor that I welcome Guidolin. Although I do worry about his appointment, the world of football owes Huw Jenkins at least a few weeks of reserved judgement.
So for now, let’s trust that he hasn’t made the worst call of his Swansea career in the one season that matters more than any other. He’d be as sick as a dog if he did.