Heading into 2017, Swansea City has to be hoping the only way left for them to go is up. The Swans seem like a sure fire bet to be relegated in a few months time. Heading into the new year, they’re set to have their third full-time coach of the season.
The man for the job is current Bayern Munich assistant coach, Paul Clement. The hiring of Clement is another gamble for the Welsh club. While the Englishman served under Carlo Ancelotti for nearly a decade, his only time as a first team manager came last year when he coached Derby County in the Championship. His time at Derby didn’t last the season as he was sacked in February.
Swansea City might have to be patient with Clement, and that might mean dealing with relegation. The dream scenario for Swansea would be that Clement’s time as Ancelotti’s right hand man has given him enough tactical and player management skill to turn their season around. But that can’t be the requirement or Swansea are setting Clement up to fail.
Clement’s record at Derby wasn’t all that bad, he left with 14 wins, 12 draws, and 7 losses. But the Premier League is a different animal to the Championship. Fortunately, sitting behind Ancelotti, Clement has been at some of the world’s biggest clubs and won some rather impressive silverware. He was on Ancelotti’s staff for Chelsea’s Premier League title in 2010, as well as when Ancelotti won ‘La Decima’ with Real Madrid in 2014.
Now in charge of a team facing relegation, Clement no longer has the benefit of working with international superstars. There is no Cristiano Ronaldo, no Robert Lewandowski or Manuel Neuer at Swansea. Clement will get a chance to show the Premier League if he’s learned anything from Ancelotti as well as his brief stint with Derby County. Despite the risk of hiring someone with such little managerial experience, Clement should be given a fairly long leash.
[link_box id=”23195″ site_id=”158″ layout=”link-box-third” alignment=”alignright”]Swansea needs some form of stability, even if they are inevitably going to be relegated. If Clement was brought in solely to save the club from going down, then it’s a puzzling hire. It’s likely that Swansea wants him for the long haul, even if that means a lower division. Barring any huge scandal or player revolt, Clement’s job should be safe heading into next season. His experience under a cool and collected manager like Ancelotti should steady the ship in Swansea. At this point in the season, that should be the priority.
Rather than judged by what he does this season, he should be judged by what he does this summer and the following season. Clement’s hire suggests Swansea know as much. Teams trying desperately to avoid relegation don’t hire long-time assistants, they hire mercenaries who have done it before. However, with Clement, Swansea has a manager that has experience in the Championship. If the Swans are to go down, their new boss would be more comfortable, as opposed to a big name who was simply hired to avoid the drop.
Clement is a coach who has been around long enough to know how things work at the highest level of the sport. His time with some of the game’s elite clubs should help him earn respect among the players who seemed to have very little for Bob Bradley. For Swansea it’s still a gamble, Clement has no experience in a relegation dogfight. Ideally, it will be a gamble that pays off, but that won’t be known in the short-term unless they stay up.
Clement must see this as an opportunity that was too good to pass up. He’s trading in Champions League nights for a relegation fight, but it’s a chance for him to break out from Ancelotti’s shadow. If Swansea is relegated then no one will blame Clement and he’ll have the summer to mold the team to his liking and push for a return to the top flight. If he manages to save Swansea’s season and keep them in the Premier League then he’ll prove he was a worthwhile gamble. It’s a win-win situation for Clement, at least for the time being.