When Swansea inevitably dismissed Paul Clement with the club at the foot of the table, it was the fourth managerial sacking they had made in two years. Garry Monk, Francesco Guidolin, Bob Bradley and now Clement have all parted company with the Welsh side since December 2015, the model of stability that the club once portrayed feels long in the memory.

On  announcing the sacking of Clement, chairman Huw Jenkins stated that changing managers during the season was the last thing the club wanted to do, after they had done it for each of the past two other campaigns, Monk was sacked in December two years ago, Guidolin was dismissed in October last year, and his replacement Bradley only lasted three months. Next up, on a temporary basis at least, is midfielder Leon Britton, who has been confirmed as the interim boss. 

The changes haven’t been limited to just the dugout in that time. The owners have changed, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien have been around for 18 months. Well ‘around’ isn’t quite the word, as the Americans have been playing the role of absentee owners quite well, leaving Jenkins in charge of key decisions, most of which haven’t turned out well. 

The most notable change, though, is arguably on the pitch, as Swansea have gone from a forward playing side to one that seem consistently blocked by some invisible force field. Granted, they had to scrap in the 2015/16 season to survive after sacking Monk, Guidolin putting aside niceties as the Swans battled their way to survival. After Guidolin’s axing in 2016, the style was less combative, more confusing under Bradley, and while Clement restored some fight in the side on arrival, there hasn’t much front foot football.

Granted, Clement lost key men in the summer in Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente, and supposed inspiring loan signing Renato Sanches has hardly put a foot right, but the lack of creativity or any form of attacking impetus in the side is appalling as it is obvious, they haven’t come from behind to win league game since last season’s final day dead rubber. 

Clement’s tactics haven’t helped his cause as well, too cautious, almost no width in the side, more often than not whatever rare moments of forward the team produced came from a player grabbing the game by the scruff of its neck. Waiting until the final day to re-sign Wilfred Bony who had been put up for transfer much earlier wasn’t the smartest move in the summer, and the Ivorian has struggled for fitness, and even hobbled off injured at Everton on Monday. The signing of Luciano Narsingh last January hasn’t had much impact still, providing very little up front, and leaving loanee Tammy Abraham to shoulder the goal scoring responsibility, no side has found the net less than the Swans.

Swansea look to have become a true Premier League lower reach club: loss of identity, managerial chopping and changing, incompetent board and long-term aim taking a back seat for survival. Like Leeds, Aston Villa, Fulham and Sunderland in the past, relegation would cap it off.

Published in International Watch

It seemed like the managerial dismissals in the Premier League had taken a back seat to give way for some actual football recently, but after some actual football on Monday night, Swansea City decided to dismiss Paul Clement from managerial duty following the club’s troubling form since the season began.

The Jacks have won just three games all campaign, and their loss at Everton yesterday saw the club drop to the foot of the Premier League table, prompting club chairman Huw Jenkins to act. In typical ruthless board fashion, Jenkins described the decision to change managers midway through a season as the ‘last thing we wanted to do’, but the club felt they couldn’t leave it any longer and needed to make a change to give them the best chance of an ‘uplift’.

The club hierarchy thanked Clement for his work at the club (typical, even Frank de Boer got thanked at Crystal Palace), with the Englishman, having taken over in January, lifting the club from bottom to 15th place at the end of last season, but they’ve felt he isn’t quite capable of repeating the trick.

45-year-old Clement took charge of Swansea at the start of the year, replacing Bob Bradley, and also managed Derby County for most part of the 2015/16 Championship season. He was also part of Carlo Ancelotti’s staff at Bayern Munich, as well as at Real Madrid and Chelsea, and it wouldn’t be daft to presume he’ll turn up wherever the Italian ends up.

Swansea confirmed that Clement’s assistants Nigel Gibbs and Karl Halabi have also left the club, and that an update on a replacement coaching staff would arrive in 24 hours.

Published in International Watch

Sanchez Sets for Swansea Move

Wednesday, 30 August 2017 21:17

Sanchez to Join Former Boss at Swansea City

 

 

Bayern Munich midfielder, Renato Sanchez is set to join English side, Swansea City on a 1 year loan deal worth £2m.

The 20-year old who joined the Bavarian from Benfica for £28m last summer has been a subject of a move away from the Bundesliga Champion having found game time very difficult last summer, appearing only 25 times in all competition last season

Sanchez, who was crowned the Young Best Player at Euro 2016, was being reported to have rejected interests from other clubs to join former Bayern Munich assistant manager, Paul Clement at the Liberty Stadium

If the Sanchez deal materialized as reported, he will become the Saints’ sixth arrival of the summer, joining Ervin Mulder, Roque Mesa, Clan Harries, Sam Clucas, and Tammy Abraham who joined the club on loan from Chelsea

Published in International Watch

 

By Kunle Ajao

Hugo Lloris was chock-full of disappointment, feeling a sense of utter frustration having allowed Marcos Alonso’s shot to squirm under him and into the net with three minutes left. Spurs had fought hard to level matters, spending virtually the entire game on the front foot after falling behind midway through the first half, and to concede late on in such manner was a more than bitter pill to swallow, the reaction of the home fans after that moment was one of disbelieving dejection. Spurs had gone into this game with the question hanging over their heads as to whether or not they could get to grips with playing at Wembley, and what better way to answer the question right than beating the champions, who came to the national stadium without three key players, plus a continuously AWOL, sure-to-depart Diego Costa; and, as Antonio Conte had inferred pre-match, rushed Tiemoue Bakayoko into a first start for the club. But it was another man making his first Chelsea start, Alvaro Morata, who would have felt disappointed not to have headed the visitors in front early on from close range. Spurs looked a little flat in the opening 20 minutes and seemed like they needed a wakeup call. And they got one on 24 minutes, Alonso curling in a delightful free-kick beyond a jumping wall and a helpless Lloris in goal. Spurs responded well after that setback, with Chelsea more than happy to sit back and absorb what their hosts would throw at them. It felt like Mauricio Pochettino’s side were constantly tweaking the kind of siege they laid at the Blues goal, first coming up with a handful of fizzed crosses from the flanks, some of which were dealt with by David Luiz, others just racing across the face of goal; then they moved up to testing Thibaut Courtois with a few decent efforts, most of which the Chelsea shot-stopper had little trouble in dealing with. Then when the Belgian goalkeeper was finally beaten five minutes before the break, Harry Kane’s effort rebounded off the base of the post. Spurs began the second period as they ended the first, relentless pressure on the Chelsea backline, but still they had very little to show for it in terms of troubling Courtois, and could have easily conceded a second, but Willian’s shot hit the woodwork in a rare Chelsea attack. That was the Brazilian’s last significant contribution before being withdrawn alongside Morata to make way for Pedro and Michy Batshuayi. Batshuayi in particularly was under pressure to redeem himself following a not-so glamourous start to the season, but his first impact of the game wouldn’t have gone down well with the away fans. From a Christian Eriksen free-kick, the Belgian forward contrived to head the ball into his own goal with 10 minutes left, to draw the game level. Spurs had the wind in their sails and looked the likelier side to grab the winner if one was up for the taking. But events that transpired afterwards gave Spurs supporters every reason to feel like there is a Wembley curse; another rare Chelsea foray forward, Alonso’s low shot, Lloris’ error; Conte went into his usual overdrive. Chelsea had given Spurs the Wembley blues again.

Another Fourmality

You bet Manchester United fans wouldn’t worry about the pun, the bounce in and around the club showed no sign of departing at the weekend, as Swansea were the ones on the receiving end of a quartet of goals this time. It might not have seemed to be heading that way, particularly with the score still 1-0 with 10 minutes left, as the Swans defended stoutly, but after Romelu Lukaku added the second- his fourth in three games for United- the floodgates opened. Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial added the gloss on the scoreline, as they did last week. It’s the first time the Red Devils have scored four goals in successive games since April 2014.

The Stoke Test is Still a Thing!

It looked like Arsenal had finally exorcised the ghost of the Brit… Bet365 stadium following their 4-1 win there in May, which meant they arrived at the same ground feeling rather confident, particularly with Stoke and Mark Hughes under pressure, which their manager discarded as rubbish. Sparky had claimed the criticism his side had been receiving was over the top, and if this performance was anything to go by, he’s got a point. Well actually he’s got three points, an early second half goal from debutant Jese giving Stoke their first win of the season, while Arsene Wenger bemoaned his team’s ‘stupid mistakes’ and poor refereeing as the reasons for the defeat. Also, water is wet.

Elsewhere:

Six points. Four goals scored. None conceded. It looks like Huddersfield saved up enough fairy-tale fuel for more than a season. A 50th-minute strike from Aaron Mooy enough to see off Newcastle, whose manager’s case for signing new players seems to be getting more justified as the games go by.

In the weekend of flailing arms, West Ham’s record buy Marko Arnautovic decided to reshape Jack Stephens’ neck with his elbow, with his side a goal down at Southampton. He promptly received his marching and on his way off kicked out in frustration, presumably because he didn’t do as much as damage as he hoped he would. Despite the setback, the Hammers rallied from two goals down, thanks to Javier Hernandez, and were on the cusp of snatching a point when Pablo Zabaleta gave away a penalty- the second one they conceded in that game- in the 92nd minute. They still have zero points to their name.

And in the Burnley v West Brom game, with the match scoreless, substitute Hal Robson-Kanu comes on and breaks the deadlock with 15 minutes left. Robson-Kanu might have spent some of his time on the bench watching the Southampton v West Ham encounter, as minutes after scoring, he also decides to try his elbow at the neck of an opponent. Despite his sending off, West Brom held on for a second consecutive 1-0 win. Just the way Tony Pulis likes it.

 

Results

Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea

Bournemouth 0-2 Watford

Burnley 0-1 West Brom

Liverpool 1-0 Crystal Palace

Swansea 0-4 Manchester United

Leicester 2-0 Brighton

Southampton 3-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 1-0 Newcastle

Stoke 1-0 Arsenal

Monday Night Football: Manchester City v Everton

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How will Spurs cope with playing at Wembley?’ has been the question asked by many after it was confirmed that the Lilywhites will use the national stadium for their home games while their new stadium is being completed. The query came about following the less than stellar performances and results from Mauricio Pochettino’s side at that ground last season, which was arguably responsible for their Champions League group-stage elimination (two defeats) and their Europa League round of 32 exit to Gent, and it was where they lost the FA Cup semi-final to Chelsea. Coincidentally, it’s Chelsea who will be the first side to visit Spurs at Wembley in the Premier League, the champions making the short trip as they seek to kick-start their season, after losing their first game, a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Burnley doing nothing to quell the malaise going on at the Blues’ camp, the Diego Costa situation still unresolved and Antonio Conte still demanding more signings. Chelsea will be without the injured Eden Hazard, suspended duo Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill, while they’re still sweating over the fitness of summer arrival Tiemoue Bakayoko; although Victor Moses returns for the champions, after missing the defeat last Saturday. The Blues haven’t won away at Tottenham in four games, and have just one win in 11, but those were at White Hart Lane, and Spurs’ hopes of re-creating the old ground’s atmosphere at Wembley will not have been helped by the restriction placed on ticket purchases- some 20000 tickets won’t be sold for the game. But the bigger issue is how comfortable the hosts will feel at their temporarily new home, particularly in terms of their high-pressing game, while for Chelsea it’s about avoiding talk of any sort of crisis at the club. It may be early in the season, and it may not quite be as defining, but it could be a blueprint of things to come.

 

Elsewhere:

First big test for two new-look teams: On Monday night Manchester City and Everton meet at the Etihad stadium, in what might be a first indication of how strong both teams are. Both sides have spent big in the transfer window, both sides won their opening games in solid if not unspectacular fashion, and both sides are aiming to make significant progress from the previous campaigns. The Toffees haven’t lost in any of their last two league games here, but they haven’t won in six either.

The most unwelcome of guests: Crystal Palace travel to Anfield on Saturday, seeking a fourth win there in succession. And they could do with it, after last weekend’s humbling against newly-promoted Huddersfield; there’s still more than a few teething problems early in the Frank de Boer era, but Liverpool are always vulnerable, as Jurgen Klopp’s men showed at Vicarage Road last weekend.

The most haunting of trips: Well it used to be, until last season, when Arsenal thumped four past Stoke at the Bet365 stadium (the name’s still terrible). The Gunners make the trip to the Midlands on Saturday evening aiming for two wins out of two in the new season, something they haven’t quite managed since the 2009/10 campaign. Stoke meanwhile need to get some points on board before the pressure on Mark Hughes- the bookies favourite to get the sack- reaches altitude.

And at Turf Moor that same day, Burnley host West Brom in what could potentially be the weekend’s most boring game. Or maybe not; both teams- who won last weekend- have shared eight goals in their last two meetings in Lancashire. Don’t bet the house on an all-action packed encounter though.

 

Fixtures

Saturday

12:30: Swansea v Manchester United

15:00: Liverpool v Crystal Palace

Southampton v West Ham

Leicester v Brighton

Burnley v West Brom

Bournemouth v Watford

17:00: Stoke v Arsenal

Sunday

13:30: Huddersfield v Newcastle

16:00: Tottenham v Chelsea

 Monday

20:00: Manchester City v Everton

Published in International Watch