There is no doubt that Paul Clement came to the Liberty Stadium with an intriguing reputation. Although his only previous role in the big chair ended with him getting the sack at Derby, many felt the move was premature.
His CV features assistant roles at Chelsea, Real Madrid, PSG, and Bayern Munich, so we know at least that Carlo Ancelotti rates him highly. However, as Swansea sit second from bottom in the Premier League, with just nine points from fourteen games, there’s no denying his jacket is on a shaky peg right now.
It’s hard to know when it’s time to cut ties with a promising manager. As Derby’s continued inability to turn a big budget into promotion shows, being quick to issue a P45 only means you have to keep finding new managers and beginning a whole new rebuilding programme. At the same time, if you leave it too late it’s all too easy to end up stranded and as Sunderland’s travails show, you can only flirt with relegation so many times before you end up married to it.
So is it time to let Clement go, or should Swansea persist?
It’s Obvious Investment Is Needed
One of the most refreshing things about the Swans’ tenure in the Premier League is that it has gone on for much longer than expected, featuring European campaigns and a reputation for fast, skilful football. That comes at a certain cost, as teams will start to covet your best players.
In Garry Monk’s memorable 2014-15 season, a team of talented stars won home and away against Manchester United. Today, you’d pause before using your free bet offer from BetAndSkill.com to back Clement’s side against struggling Stoke this weekend.
In Swansea’s case, becoming a selling club has found great financial rewards but not when the replacements are skilful and often unproven younger talents. You can only sell Sigurdsson and Llorente if you are going to replace them with equal quality.
Sadly the cupboard is looking pretty bare, and the £40million+ banked for Gylfi has not been even close to reinvested. Why fire Paul Clement, who turned around the mess handed to him last season and avoided relegation against the odds, if you’re not going to fund a rebuild of the squad for his replacement?
Short-Termism Is A Risky Strategy
In as much as the board did sanction transfers in the summer – an £11million fee for Roque Mesa aside – a series of loans and low-value deals doesn’t really help build a side that will get above the lower reaches of the league.
The most headline-grabbing deal of the summer for Clement’s men was the loan of Renato Sanches, whose utter lack of form seems to suggest a player who left his native Portugal too young and is suffering for it.
Clement may be partly to blame for some of the signings that have been made, but with his hands tied on funding, there will inevitably be gambles that don’t pay off. Who among the present squad would fetch anything like the fees required to make the American owners’ Moneyball strategy pay off? It’s hard to think of any. That’s not an attractive offer to be making to any replacement if Clement gets the boot.
Maybe Swansea’s future lies with another manager – we could find that out sooner rather than later – but one thing’s for sure: unless the people in control change their strategy, any replacement they do attract is unlikely to fare much better than Clement.