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Friday 20 October 2017

Paul Clement: I was in awe of Jose Mourinho during time together at Chelsea

Paul Clement is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with his former boss
Paul Clement is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with his former boss

Swansea's Paul Clement comes up against his former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho on Sunday admitting that he was once in awe of the Manchester United manager.

Clement was an academy coach at Chelsea during Mourinho's first spell in west London and saw the Portuguese's training-ground methods and "psychology" up close and personal.

A decade on, Clement will be in the opposite dug-out at Old Trafford with precious Premier League points at stake.

United are chasing a top-four spot and the prize of Champions League football next season, while Swansea are battling to preserve their top-flight status.

"He was the professor and I was the student," head coach Clement said with a smile.

"It was brilliant for me. I was at Fulham and he had gone to Chelsea and I was so interested in what was going on that I was making calls to people there and asking, 'What's he like?'.

"I asked one of my friends who was a coach there to draw me some of the exercises that he was doing.

"But you can't really see it on paper. It wasn't until I actually got to stand on the side of the pitch and see it, that I saw what he is like as a coach.

"I was definitely in awe of him."

Clement says he learned a lot from Mourinho during their short crossover spell at Chelsea, and it was not all about training-ground exercises and tactical planning.

Mourinho has created headlines this season with the way he has criticised several United players - most notably Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chris Smalling - and Clement recognises that contentious approach.

He said: "You were never quite sure where you stood with him.

"He created a distance between people. He was very strong on psychology, on managing people - both players and staff.

"He really kept you on your toes and y ou can see all that going on at that moment.

"But in 2007 I saw a real high level coach who knew how to get maximum use out of every moment in training.

"It was intense and very stimulating for players from the first to the last minute."

Clement actually heads to United with fond memories of Old Trafford.

He was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant when Chelsea won there in taking a huge step to the league and cup double in 2009-10, and Blackburn number two when a shock 3-2 Rovers win in 2011 ruined Sir Alex Ferguson's 70th birthday celebrations.

But Clement - who masterminded a victory at Liverpool in January - admits that being in charge with the pressure on his shoulders is a completely different experience.

"It consumes you, it is there 24/7," he said.

"You think through everything, every day until you go to sleep and again first thing in the morning.

"It would be amazing (to win at Old Trafford), because of the situation we are in there would be only three games after that.

"It's a critical time of the season for us, so it would be even better than Anfield."

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