Swansea City have been in the Premier League since promotion in 2011, but this season more than any other sees their status under threat. The Welsh club have been responsible for two of the three managerial casualties in England’s first tier, sacking Francesco Guidolin in early October, and parting company with Bob Bradley just a few days ago.
Guidolin – who had much experience in Italy – was brought in last January with the club in 18th position after Garry Monk was given his marching orders. After securing top flight status the Italian was kept in place for this season, despite Swansea’s takeover by an American consortium. The club won the first game of the Premier League season – away at Burnley – but failed to register another victory before the club called time on Guidolin in early October.
He was replaced by Bob Bradley, a man whose unusual career path had seen him manage the US national side, Norwegian minnows Stabaek, and French second division club Le Havre. At the time Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins said Bradley was a ‘long-term appointment’, but his tenure lasted a disastrous 85 days before he was relieved of his duties the day after a heavy 4-1 home defeat to West Ham on Boxing Day.
The search is now on for a manager to save the club from relegation, but whoever takes charge is coming into a side that has just two wins and twelve points from eighteen matches. So who are the runners and riders, and what are the odds?
Swansea have stated publicly that they hope to have a new man in place prior to the trip to Crystal Palace on the 3rd of January, with Alan Curtis in temporary charge for Saturday’s home match against Bournemouth. Both Ryan Giggs and Paul Clement were interviewed for thee job at the time of Bradley’s appointment, although early favourite Giggs has drifted considerably at the odds. The Manchester United legend was thought to be close to getting the job at the time, but has quickly moved out of the running as the club declared they wanted a man with Premier League experience.
That clearly wasn’t a consideration when appointing either Guidolin or Bradley, and the club which has been so famed for it’s footballing philosophy has lost it’s way a little bit. Chris Coleman was another front-runner for the job, but the Wales coach has reiterated his desire to continue leading his country. Crystal Palace moved quickly to snap up Sam Allardyce after disposing with Alan Pardew, and managers with top flight experience are thin on the ground at the moment. That means the likes of Bayern assistant boss Clement, and recently sacked Birmingham coach Gary Rowett now head the market.
Neither man quite fits temporary coach Alan Curtis’ profile of a man who is British and knows the Premier League though, so there may be a surprise or two in store yet. Let’s look at the likely candidates:
Paul Clement has certainly earned his spurs as assistant at Chelsea and Real Madrid, but his only managerial appointment at Derby County ended in disappointment. Clement was fired after just eight months in charge, despite a 42% win rate and a 5th placed league position. Derby chairman made the bizarre statement that ‘promotion was not the primary target’ amidst Clement’s sacking, claiming a lack of progress in playing style as the reason for the decision. Now assistant at Bayern, Clement has the makings of a great manager but can Swansea afford to appoint another rookie after Monk, Guidolin and Bradley?
At a best price of +175 with Coral, Clement is not punting material.
Gary Rowett’s sacking at Birmingham was equally peculiar. The Blues were 7th in the Championship table when the decision was taken, and Rowett had generally been considered to have done a very good job in his two years in charge. Even more peculiar was the decision to appoint former Chelsea legend Zola, who had made little impression as a manager in his time at West Ham and Watford.
Rowett is one of those rare ‘up-and-coming’ British managers though, and one who would fit in to Swansea’s club philosophy. Again there is the question mark over Premier League experience, but at +450 with Betway he could be slightly better value than Clement.
One suspects however, that with the financial benefits of staying in the Premier League, Swansea will move for an experienced boss who has been there and done it. Alan Pardew’s stock survived after a torrid time at Newcastle, but it has fallen considerably after a terrible year at Palace. The Swans may look at Pardew as a steady pair of hands, but his tendency to go on long losing runs at every club he’s managed will surely temper enthusiasm. It would be a gamble by the board, but Pardew is well-known for having an immediate impact when he goes to a new club, and he could be enough to keep them up this year – even if he isn’t a long-term prospect.
The one that may come out of leftfield a little bit is Harry Redknapp, who has been out of management since leading Jordan in a pair of World Cup qualifiers earlier in 2016. The former West Ham, Spurs and Southampton boss has vast experience of the Premier League and the English game, and has already said publicly that he is interested in the job. The rumour mill has churned enough for Redknapp to be cut to +300 in places, but he can still be backed with William Hill at +800 and that strikes one as a decent wager in the circumstances.
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