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Tuesday 25 July 2017

Paul Clement relishing pressure of Swansea role

New Swansea boss Paul Clement has already identified January transfer targets
New Swansea boss Paul Clement has already identified January transfer targets

Paul Clement believes managing pressure and Swansea in the Premier League will make him feel alive again.

Clement has worked at some of the biggest clubs in Europe as Carlo Ancelotti's assistant, and he once made one of the boldest moves in football at Real Madrid by substituting four-time Ballon D'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.

That came as Real manager Ancelotti sat in the stands after being given a two-game touchline ban, but Clement insists working with some of the greats of the game is no substitute for calling the shots as the boss.

"I was on the touchline for our last two games (at Madrid), we were playing Getafe at home and we were going to take off Cristiano," Swansea head coach Clement recalled.

"I said 'Cris, we're going to take you off in the second half in this minute' and he said 'who's coming on for me?'

"I actually put on Martin Odegaard (Real's youngster-ever player) and it was his debut for the club. Is that a claim to fame?

"I could say that to some of the Swansea players if I take them off and they shake their head. I can say 'I've taken off Cristiano Ronaldo - so I can take you off!'"

Clement has been with Ancelotti at Chelsea, Paris St Germain, Real and, most recently, Bayern Munich.

Bayern are currently occupying their usual position at the top of the Bundesliga and next month resume their Champions League campaign against Arsenal.

But Clement, who celebrates his 45th birthday on Sunday, felt he could not turn down the opportunity to take over a Swansea side one point from safety after Tuesday night's 2-1 win at Crystal Palace.

Even being overlooked for the job when Bob Bradley was appointed in October did not enter his mind when the Swansea board came calling.

"I wanted a new challenge, a new experience," Clement said.

"Working with Carlo I became better in my relationships with players, I became more confident in my ability and I felt comfortable at that level.

"But I've never settled for that, I want to feel the pressure. The worst thing about pressure is having none of it. It's nice to have pressure, it makes you feel alive.

"It's the right time for me. I've been coaching for 20 years, since 2009 at the highest level, and I want to see if I can build a career moving forward as a head coach - as the one making the big decisions."

Clement's only previous managerial spell at Derby lasted just eight months.

The Rams were fifth in the Sky Bet Championship when Clement was sacked in February 2016, with club owner Mel Morris critical of their playing style.

"I wouldn't have done this or tried to be a head coach again if I didn't feel I had the skills to be able to do it," Clement said.

"I often get asked about my time at Derby and there's a lot of contrasting views about what happened, from a harsh dismissal or - an interesting one I read the other day - my time there was an absolute disaster.

" I remember during that period taking a team to the top twice and at the time of my dismissal we were five points off first with 16 games to go.

"Do I think it was a success or failure? I don't think you can call it either, my time was cut short.

"Of course it was disappointing to be sacked, but it's also part and parcel of the job - it's happened to nearly every manager there's been.

"I think about it as a positive experience. I learned a lot."

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