Swansea pin hopes on new manager bounce
LONDON – Swansea City’s decision to sack manager Paul Clement reflected the mounting anxiety in the Premier League’s lower reaches as the frenetic festive period begins.
Clement was dismissed on Wednesday with Swansea four points adrift of safety at the foot of the table, becoming the sixth manager to have lost his job in the English top flight this season. While some clubs — Crystal Palace, Everton, West Ham United — are reaping the benefits of a managerial change, others — Stoke City, Newcastle United, Bournemouth — are standing by their man. AFP Sport looks at how the managerial merry-go-round has affected the scramble to avoid the trapdoor.
Palace, Everton and West Ham have all enjoyed striking upturns in fortunes since electing to part ways with underperforming managers. Palace were the first club to hit the panic button, sacking Frank de Boer in September after a return of zero points and zero goals from their first four games. Former England manager Roy Hodgson has engineered an impressive turnaround, a run of seven games without defeat putting Palace in 14th place ahead of Saturday’s trip to Swansea.
Sam Allardyce, another ex-England manager, has had a similar impact at Everton, who have climbed from 19th to ninth since sacking Ronald Koeman in late October. David Moyes was an unpopular choice to replace Slaven Bilic at West Ham, but a three-game unbeaten run — including a 1-0 win over champions Chelsea — has elevated the club from 18th to 15th. Though West Bromwich Albion remain in the relegation zone, there have been signs of improvement since Alan Pardew succeeded Tony Pulis, including a battling 0-0 draw at Liverpool.
As the clubs who have changed managers have crept up the table, those who have kept faith with the man in the dug-out have found themselves sliding towards the drop zone. Promoted from the Championship under Rafael Benitez last season, Newcastle slipped into the bottom three after last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Arsenal and have lost eight of their last nine games. Mark Hughes is the British bookmakers’ favourite to be the next managerial casualty following a return of one win in eight matches that has seen Stoke fall to 17th, a point above danger. Eddie Howe’s good reputation remains intact, but with his Bournemouth team sitting above Stoke on goal difference alone, he finds himself in the thick of a relegation dogfight.
Once considered a byword for stability and stylish football, Swansea appear to have lost their way. The south Wales club are looking for their third permanent manager in under 12 months after Clement went the same way as Italian Francesco Guidolin and former United States coach Bob Bradley. Swansea have won only one of their last 10 league games and continue to be hampered by chronic goal-scoring problems, having found the net only 10 times in 18 matches.
Koeman, Pulis and former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal have all been linked with the vacancy at the Liberty Stadium. In the meantime, midfielder and coach Leon Britton has been placed in interim charge for Saturday’s visit of Palace. “To change the manager, especially at only the halfway point of the season, is the last thing we wanted to do as a club,” said chairman Huw Jenkins. “But we felt we couldn’t leave it any longer and needed to make a change to give us the best chance of an uplift and a turnaround in fortunes with the club bottom of the Premier League.”
Brighton v Watford
Burnley v Tottenham
Everton v Chelsea
Leicester v Man Utd
Man City v Bournemouth
Huddersfield v Southampton
Stoke v West Brom
Swansea v Crystal Palace
West Ham v Newcastle