Can Paul Clement steer Swansea City to Premier League survival?
The Premier League relegation market is invariably one of the most intriguing when it comes to betting offers on sports, with the battle to avoid the drop frequently going down to the wire and ‘Houdini’ acts of survival often providing far more drama than the title race.
Swansea City currently languish in the bottom three and are already on their third permanent manager of the campaign. Their current predicament owes much to failings in managerial appointments and transfer activity dating back two or three seasons now, with club chairman Huw Jenkins, for so long lauded for the job he’d done in helping to revive the Swans fortunes, having seemingly developed a reverse Midas touch in recent times.
Last summer was a case in point, with the American consortium led by Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan buying a controlling interest in the club against the wishes of many, Francesco Guidolin surprisingly being retained as manager (only to be sacked early on in the new season) and the departure of a key player in Ashley Williams.
The failure to adequately replace Williams both as a defender and a leader always looked as though it could be potentially disastrous. The leadership issue could have been resolved with a move for Joe Allen, but whilst Swansea dithered on the deal, Stoke City acted and snapped up one of the star players of Euro 2016.
Bob Bradley was soon brought in as Guidolin’s successor, clearly the choice of the new owners, but survived just 85 days in the job without even having the benefit of a transfer window. The American’s position had become untenable after winning just two out of 11 games, picking up just eight points and, most alarmingly, conceding 29 goals, with three or more being leaked on no fewer than eight occasions.
The Swans had a potentially crucial 2-1 win away to Crystal Palace to begin 2017 that enabled them to close the gap between themselves and the fourth from bottom Eagles to just a single point, so the new regime under Paul Clement certainly has a fighting chance of survival.
Clement arrives at the Liberty Stadium with an impressive CV, having worked as an assistant to Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, Paris St Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. However, his one managerial role to date was at Derby County in the Championship, where he was relieved of his job just under a year ago after some mixed results.
Clement has quickly assembled a backroom team consisting of Claude Makelele, Nigel Gibbs, Karl Halabi and goalkeeping coach Tony Roberts, but now comes the task of adding players of the requisite quality to improve the Swans fortunes.
A couple of deals appear to be close to completion, with PSV Eindhoven winger Luciano Narsingh seemingly on the verge of signing for around £4 million and Norwich City full-back Martin Olsson also seemingly on the cards.
The Narsingh deal was linked prior to Clement’s appointment, but Olsson was a Blackburn Rovers player that Clement knows from a brief spell he had as a coach at Ewood Park under the not so glorious reign of a certain Steve Kean.
With all due respect to Narsingh and Olsson, neither player is likely to be seen as a significant upgrade on those already at the club and a commanding central defender and a striker will surely be high on Clement’s wish-list. Swansea’s hopes of pulling clear of trouble may well rest on whether they can recruit those players.
Sources: walesonline.co.uk / bbc.com