Monday 20 November 2017

New Swans boss Clement facing an onerous task

Swansea City 0 Bournemouth 3

Bournemouth's Joshua King celebrates scoring their third goal. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters
Bournemouth's Joshua King celebrates scoring their third goal. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters

Stuart James

Swansea City will name Paul Clement as their new manager ahead of Tuesday's Premier League game with Crystal Palace.

Clement, who is Carlo Ancelotti's No 2 at Bayern Munich, is understood to have agreed a contract in principle to take over in South Wales, and will meet the players at their hotel before the game at Palace. He will observe that match from the stands, meaning that his first full game in charge will be the FA Cup third-round tie against Hull City on Saturday.

Gary Rowett, Ryan Giggs and Chris Coleman were also linked with the role that has been vacant after the sacking of Bob Bradley last week, but Clement, 44, has beaten them to the post.

And his task already looks an onerous one: Swansea are rooted to the foot of the Premier League table after they were crushed by Bournemouth at the Liberty Stadium yesterday.

First-half goals from Benik Afobe and Ryan Fraser, followed by a late third from Josh King, allowed Bournemouth to ease to the most straightforward of away wins with Jack Wilshere outstanding in an advanced midfield role. The margin of victory could have been even wider, such was the gulf between two clubs.

Bournemouth are up to 10th place. Swansea are rock bottom, four points adrift of safety and facing the prospect of playing Championship football next season unless they can produce an act of escapology to rival just about any other that the Premier League has witnessed.

AFC Bournemouth's Harry Arter and Swansea City's Modou Barrow battle for the ball. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire
AFC Bournemouth's Harry Arter and Swansea City's Modou Barrow battle for the ball. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire

Alan Curtis, who had the thankless job of taking charge on a caretaker basis, talked about a crisis of confidence, yet there is a glaring lack of quality as well as self-belief. "Bournemouth were excellent," Curtis said. "They probably did to us what we used to do to teams."

They have lost eight of their past 12 games and conceded 32 goals in the process, including shipping three or more in nine of those fixtures. Those sort of statistics will not be turned around on the training ground alone. Swansea need new players but how much money would the club's American owners be prepared to give Clement to throw at what looks like a lost cause?

"Naively or not, I still think there should be enough there to get better results," Curtis said. "But confidence in sport, especially in football, is such a fragile thing. There are good players out there but once we concede you can see the confidence draining out of them."

Afobe opened the scoring and it was the 14th time in 19 Premier League matches that Swansea have conceded first. It was also another piece of awful defending. Fraser, released by Wilshere, crossed from the left and Jordi Amat, who was surprisingly recalled, miscued, spearing the ball towards his own goal. Lukasz Fabianski managed to keep it out, but Afobe was there to turn in the rebound, pivoting six yards out to fire home.

AFC Bournemouth's Jack Wilshere (left) and Swansea City's Jordi Amat. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire
AFC Bournemouth's Jack Wilshere (left) and Swansea City's Jordi Amat. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire

Wilshere was also involved in Bournemouth's second goal, which was brilliantly-worked. Harry Arter, Simon Francis and Junior Stanislas also played a part in a slick move down the Bournemouth right that ended with Fraser turning home from inside the six-yard box in first-half injury-time. The predictable third goal arrived two minutes from time, when Charlie Daniels released King. The substitute sprinted clear before slipping the ball past Fabianski, wrapping up three points for Bournemouth and leaving Swansea and Clement with one hell of a survival battle on their hands.

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