Swansea, the first Welsh football club to play in the Premier League are embroiled in a desperate fight for survival. Since promotion in 2011, the Swans have impressed with many with both their attractive approach on the pitch and commitment to good governance off it. Now, sitting in 17th place after the failed tenure’s of Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley, they welcome Paul Clement, their third manager of the season.
While Paul Clement has little experience as a full blown manager, he has very impressive pedigree working under Carlo Ancelotti at some of the biggest clubs in Europe. Coaching the Chelsea first team during Guus Hiddink’s 2009 stint, he was retained and then promoted to assistant manager under Ancelotti. His close working relationship with the Italian carried him into positions at PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, interspersed with a coaching role at Blackburn and an impressive managerial début at Derby.
Clement’s impact is already being felt; his first game in charge a 3:2 victory away to Liverpool, and most recently, a 2:1 win against Southampton at home. Dropping out of the FA cup (2:0 defeat to Hull) might be a blessing under the circumstances, allowing him to focus entirely on the team’s survival. The most immediate task for Clement will the be need to address the drastic rate at which Swansea concede goals – 44 in the 19 games prior to his arrival. During his brief time in charge of Derby, he can point to a spell of 12 clean sheets in 19 games, a period with only one recorded loss. Clement is known for a highly organised and attentive approach to coaching and planning, and the Swansea management will be hoping he is able to replicate this and bring about some stability in time for the difficult run of fixtures ahead.
Not a time for patience
One of the characteristics associated with Ancelotti is his patient and pragmatic style, but with a raft of challenging encounters on the horizon, Clement will have little room to demonstrate how much (if any) of this has rubbed off on him. Beating Liverpool has granted sliver of breathing space, but Swansea will know this is no time for complacency and will need to be firing on all fronts in the games ahead. A result against Leicester will be vital to mitigate more challenging upcoming fixtures against Man City and Chelsea.
Premier League Betting currently have Swansea to stay up at 6/4. Now, these odds will have dropped significantly in the last month, with the market approving of Clement’s appointment, and their wins against Liverpool and Southampton, But if you are feeling confident, there is just enough value here to merit a punt. One thing to note is that playing Arsenal, Liverpool, City and Chelsea all in the space of roughly a month in January/February leaves them with only 2 fixtures against top 6 opponents in the last 3 months of the season.
Writer, journalist, amateur gambler and long suffering Charlton supporter with a background in Politics and academic research. Specialising in European and English football league analysis and predictions.