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LEIGHTON JAMES COLUMN: Paul Clement has laid foundations for Premier League survival

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 15, 2017

Paul Clement has laid the foundations for Swansea City to secure Premier League safety.

Paul Clement has laid the foundations for Swansea City to secure Premier League safety.

Comments (19)

Building a football team is like building a house. You start with the foundations before you worry about the roof.

That's what Paul Clement has done at Swansea City. In my mind, it's absolutely the right way to go about things. It's never mattered how pretty you are, how much attractive football you play. And particularly when you're fighting relegation, it's all about results. If you want entertainment, go to the palladium.

People talk about confidence, but I think Clement's impact at Swansea owes more to organisation and discipline. He's tightened up the defence and the midfield – and suddenly we look a different team.

We don't need to score at least two or three goals to get a result now. We're scoring the first goal in games. We're keeping clean sheets! It sounds simple, but that professionalism and resilience has been at the heart of Clement's success.

READ MORE: Huw Jenkins confirms Swansea rejected big-money offers for star trio in January

I played with Clement's father Dave and he had the same mentality: win at all costs, and if you can't, make sure you don't lose. Clement would have said 'if we can draw every game 0-0, we'll be doing okay' and the goals have taken care of themselves. When you have players like Llorente and Sigurdsson, they will.

The improvement in players like Alfie Mawson has also been brilliant to see. He's made a difference. Alfie is becoming a wonderful young centre back – he's not there yet – but there's no doubt he'll become one of the real good ones. The thing about Alfie is that he's learning quickly.

Of course, it was a superb strike against Leicester City. And what a surprise it is to see the Foxes down there. Has the burden of Champions League football become too much for them?

Claudio Ranieri is such a good manager, it's hard to know what is going wrong. People have suggested the Leicester players have downed tools, but I don't buy that. Players play to win, it's no different at Leicester.

The problem, for me, has been N'Golo Kante. Or rather the lack of Kante.

Leicester won the league by 10 points last season... now Chelsea are eight points clear? Both had Kante. Coincidence? Not for me.

What I love about Kante is his professionalism. He's nobody's player of the season but he quietly gets about the pitch and snuffs out fires.

In Tom Carroll, Swansea have got themselves a good midfielder but he's no comparison to Kante. The Frenchman is on another level and Swansea will go into their next game with Chelsea with nothing to lose. Even nicking a point seems impossible against Chelsea right now, so it's a shot to nothing and Clement has got a nice break to prepare his players.

READ MORE: Martin Olsson hunting for a house but already feeling right at home at Swansea City

Both Carroll and Martin Olsson have been major influences on this run of form. They've improved the team and they both look better players than when I've seen them play in the past, particularly young Tom.

So onto Chelsea. Don't worry about Burnley at home, or Hull away, even though it's tempting. You only look at the next game, regardless of this big break.

It's a no-pressure fixture at Stamford Bridge. Let's enjoy it and if we can remain compact, resilient and hard to beat – which we have been under Clement – who knows? No team will play Chelsea and expect to win.

Gylfi Sigurdsson

Everyone is praising Gylfi Sigurdsson at the moment and rightly so. He's got that beautiful ability to score goals from midfield. That's a massive bonus for any team and any manager.

His consistency is unbelievable so it's not a surprise to see people like Graeme Souness say he's good enough to play for Tottenham again.

One thing that baffles me about Gylfi is that he ALWAYS takes our corners. Every time. Yet he's our top goalscorer! There's no net by the corner... my message to Paul Clement is to get Sigurdsson in the box, or on the edge of the penalty area and give the opposition something else to think about.

We're a little too easy to plan against from set pieces and I'm sure that's an area Clement will look to improve, given time. What about Martin Olsson running across and taking a left-footed in-swinging corner? We could use some variety.

No doubt questions will rise again about Sigurdsson's future in the summer, but – if we stay up (which is still not guaranteed, by the way) – it'll be a big test for Clement. He needs to bring in the right players and keep the right ones. He's laid the foundations, but there's a long way to go.

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  • peter36crc  |  February 19 2017, 10:38PM

    Slagheap - just came across this post of yours on January 7th. "PC out AC in the man clearly has no clue as to what he is doing". Very positive post from you there! End of discussion.

  • peter36crc  |  February 17 2017, 10:00AM

    Reddylad can't fault any of your reasoning there. Before PC became manager I would have probably rated our chances as low as 2 out of 10! Now I would say about 6-7 out of ten as there is still a long way to go yet. Looking at the other teams remaining fixtures Palace have the hardest. All the others are fairly similar so I think that as long as we keep playing the way we have under PC our chances are more than good. As to you Slagheap you have made 4 comments on this article with not one thing said about SCFC, they have all been personal remarks.

    |   8
  • slagheap  |  February 17 2017, 8:32AM

    Peter I will leave the insults to you

    |   3
  • reddylad  |  February 17 2017, 6:45AM

    Hi Guys Just out of Curiosity What chance do think we have of staying up in PL ? , Out of a ten score . a few weeks ago i would have given them about a 4 from ten in staying up but now i would give them an 8 from ten of staying up in PL . if you dont want to answer thats great but dont give me any Grief over the Scale PALEASE.

    |   2
  • peter36crc  |  February 16 2017, 11:11PM

    I just don't know (or care) where you are coming from Slagheap because this is getting personal now and I will not waste my time in continually telling you that PC has done a great job in only 7 games. The sooner you get that into your thick skull the better. No more to say on the subject so please stick to worthwhile comments about SCFC and not your wild accusations about my alleged opposition to PC! Get your facts right before spouting off please!

    |   -2
  • slagheap  |  February 16 2017, 11:03PM

    Peter I always post positive things about our club, but you are the one that is continually negative i.e your continued opposition (by your own admission) to the appointment of PC

    |   -3
  • peter36crc  |  February 16 2017, 10:40PM

    You are quite correct Slagheap on some of what you say so let me respond. I was not the only one who expressed doubts about PC as our next manager, however as with other previous managers I was willing to give him a chance and I soon warmed to him! I never wanted big Sam - I wanted Harry Redknapp, we didn't get him but I'm more than happy with PC and the way he has turned us around after only 7 games so if you took the time to read my comments properly you will see that. I'm more positive (as I have said previously) now that at any time since January 2016 so how is that negative. You have to concentrate more on what is going on NOW rather than raking up the past. That is being negative. Try to say something about our football club for a change!

  • slagheap  |  February 16 2017, 10:12PM

    Peter you were the one who was against the appointment of PC all along, not enough experience, failed at his last job, we have missed the boat with big Sam. All your quotes, how wrong and negative can you be

    |   1
  • peter36crc  |  February 16 2017, 6:28PM

    Not me Slagheap not my job! Just stating an opinion as to how we finally got it right! How about you saying something constructive for a change! Instead of being negative tell me how you think the board have handled it?

    |   5
  • slagheap  |  February 16 2017, 5:57PM

    Peter you clearly hove no idea as to how to chose a manager

    |   -10


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