A trip to Old Trafford on Sunday will awaken some beautiful memories for Paul Clement. Swansea City manager won at Manchester United with Chelsea during his time as Carlo Ancelotti’s No2 and ruined Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70. Birthday, when he tasted victory at Blackburn Rovers as assistant to Steve Kean, a night in the away end with West Brom Fans, that strikes a chord now.
It was 2005, the second-to-last weekend of the season, and Clement cheer the way to Old Trafford, Neil, his brother, he was in for a relegation threatened West Brom side that were on their way to what would become known as their great escape. “I was coach at Fulham in the Academy at the time, I went from London on the train, and I sat in the corner with the West Brom fans,” Clement said. “It was 1-1 and he proved to be a massive point.”
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With West Brom comes to the survival of the last day, Clement would be more than happy for history to repeat. Swansea, third from bottom, two points behind Hull City with four matches remaining and Clement expects in this relegation battle goes right to the last day.
After a damaging run that has brought just one point from six games, including a potentially critical 2-1 defeat at Hull last Saturday was 2-0 victory over Stoke City, Swansea a shot of confidence when you need it most. “What a difference a performance and a victory for the atmosphere – it’s unbelievable,” Clement said. “Training is completely different.”
Clement is consumed by the challenge. He gives the impression that he is not a stone on the other to leave – “you think about everything, it is there 24/7” – but he has also come to realize, he needs to be decisive with his actions, that was the case with the Stoke-on-one match. He made some great calls during the game, including the designation of the evergreen Leon Britton in the team for the first time since his appointment as manager. The midfielder was outstanding.
Clement changed the playing system to a midfield diamond, which granted Gylfi Sigurdsson have more freedom and meant that Swansea could play with two strikers, making an aerial threat than Fernando Llorente, of the fortunes in his 12th goal of the season, but also a socket, the rear of the ready-to-run Jordan Ayew expects. “I think said, the dynamics of Llorente and Ayew was expecting good,” Clement. “Ayew expects the physical statistics were almost out of the chart.”
However, the decision really raised eyebrows was in the 58. minute, as Swansea were decided leading 1-0 and Clement, to withdraw, Llorente, top scorer, and replace him with Mike van der Hoorn, a Central defender. Many Swansea supporters looked, puzzled, at the time, also angry, in some cases, but Clement clearly scarred by that chastening 3-1 home defeat against Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the month, explained he felt to be forced and not be afraid to do this again.
“I remember that the exchange and about two minutes before I thought: ‘I have to do now, because I regret it if I don’t,'” Clement said. “I look back at the Tottenham game when we are 1-0 and I have remorse about what I did, then. I don’t want to have regrets. I just want to go with him. I would like to be sure in the decision. If it turns out to be wrong, it is wrong. But I think it is worse, not making the big call, and then later think “I wish I had made this decision.’ Rather I would do it that way and lose, as opposed to sitting on the fence, don’t courageous and brave.”
With a touch of luck, Marko Arnautovic missed a penalty and 60 seconds later, Swansea scored a second through Tom Carroll’s deflected shot Swansea came on the line to get one of the three victories, the Clement believes between now and the end of the season that are crucial to their survival chances.
According to United, Swansea host Everton, followed by a trip to Sunderland – who will almost safely descend from the stage, before finishing with a home game against West Brom. The whole time, Swansea have an eye on the hull, who travel to Southampton on Saturday and could be the widening of the gap at the bottom, before Clement player in the game at Old Trafford
“Whatever happens, in this game, we are going to approach United in the same way,” Clement said. “I think we just need to focus on our performance, and that is really what we have, when we went to Liverpool [and won 3-2]. Forget Liverpool, forget it, see Anfield, the focus on a good performance and we will see what happens. This is what we do here.”