When Carlo Ancelotti was dismissed by Bayern Munich this week, various theories for why he had been rather unceremoniously dumped were presented. What had gone wrong? Had he lost the dressing room? What had changed?
One idea put forward was that he missed the influence of his old assistant, the man who helped him out at Chelsea, Real Madrid, PSG and Bayern.
Anyone unfamiliar with Paul Clement’s role as Ancelotti’s latter-day right-hand man might have raised a Carlo-esque eyebrow at the Premier League table after reading that theory.
Clement arrived at Swansea City in January as their third manager of the season, four points adrift at the bottom of the table and floundering. To say they were in a mess is to make a mockery of the word ‘understatement’. But Clement fixed them, tightened their defence and they survived: not just survived, but if you made a league table from the games after he was appointed, Swansea would have been eighth.
A fine achievement, but how much will it be worth if he simply delayed relegation by a year? Because that’s the direction Swansea are heading, with the obvious caveat that these are early days in the season. They have won just once, against a Crystal Palace side who have been lucky to get nil in some games, but more than that their approach seems confused, like Clement is a man desperately trying to find a solution but swinging in the dark.
Formations have chopped and changed, Tammy Abraham and Wilfried Bony have both been in and out of the side, and summer arrival Roque Mesa, who seems like he could bring something a little different to their midfield, has only started one game.
Their latest defeat, to a West Ham side who have hardly dazzled this season, adds another slice of concern. “What was missing for us was the first and second bit of quality that you needed to convert good opportunities,” said Clement afterwards.
It wasn’t the most encouraging of reflections.
Clement’s previous job as a No 1 came at Derby, a low-level basket case of a club who get through managers like cat owners get through furniture. His reputation should not have been excessively harmed there. But if things go south at Swansea, then it starts to become a pattern. Maybe he would’ve been better sticking with Carlo after all.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved