Date: 16th March 2018 at 10:25pm
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Sam Clucas has explained the differences between current boss Carlos Carvalhal and his predecessor Paul Clement.

In an interview with the Guardian, where the midfielder explains how he’s had to deal with fans’ criticism throughout his career – and prove them wrong, Clucas answers the question as to what new boss Carlos Carvalhal has done to turn things around at the Liberty Stadium.

You can read the full interview here

Having seen our reputation of playing an attractive, passing style of football kick-start back in the League One days thanks to former manager Roberto Martinez – the Spaniard who said that the key was making training ‘all about the ball’, we’ve moved a long way away from that philosophy, and we’re hopefully desperate to restablish it.

Following Martinez’s departure, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup kept it going to great success, but that’s where it ended. The end of the ‘Swansea Way’ you could say.

Garry Monk came in and big changes. A number of Spanish players left just a few months after he replaced Laudrup when he was sacked. he focused heavily on team shape in his first season, and we lost our ability or interest in dominating possession and dictating games. From being a team who liked to take the game to the opposition, we sat deeper under Monk – even at home, our possession dropped to minus-50% in many games as the rookie aimed to add a plan b and c to our tactical arsenal.

It proved to be very effective in his first season, delivering an 8th place finish, but surely adopting training that mainly focuses on team shape and discipline, rather than expressing yourself with the ball will eventually bore and frustrate players, leading to a drop in performance levels and results.

Francesco Guidolin followed after Monk and had to do whatever it took to keep us up. Bob Bradley we won’t mention, and then Paul Clement again was another manager who initially had to just sort out the mess left behind to help avoid relegation once again. A trend emerges.

Clucas explained:

“With the old manager, every day we would be working on shape. From Monday to the matchday it would be more tactical. But the new manager has come in and just concentrated on playing through the lines and playing with freedom.

You`re not stuck in your positions, you`re free to come in and link up. I think that has given the boys a lot of confidence. It has certainly helped me.”

If there’s one word I would never associate with Clement’s managerial style, and that would be freedom. It was evident, particularly this season, that team shape and defensive cover was crucial for Clement and his team. That was the main focus and that meant players sticking to strict roles and positions. There’s no wonder then why we were so awful in front of goal, and barely able to even create a shot on target.

It seems that Carvalhal has taken a different approach, one being more bold, and risky you could say. His predecessors, who were also tasked with the sole target of survival, were very conservative and defensive-minded, yet Carvalhal has been quite the opposite. It could have massively backfired, it did with Bradley who just didn’t have a single clue what he was doing, but Carvalhal’s positive approach has paid off massively.

Clucas added:

“Even if we don`t get a result, he`ll come in on Monday and say: ‘Forget about it. You`re good enough players.` Then he`ll just come out with one of his quotes and everyone starts laughing,”

“He also tells stories in his meetings. Every day before the meeting starts, we all say to him that we want one, and he tells us a story about back in Portugal or wherever. It just makes it an enjoyable place to be. And I think if you`re in a happy environment in the week, you take that into the games. We`re a lot more confident now and we know we`ve got the backing of the fans.”

I don’t know about you, but the vibe I got from Clement was that of a headteacher-type character. He was very serious in front of the media and he was the same behind the scenes by all accounts. It’s only my opinion of course, but he didn’t come across as a player who could naturally lift players in quite the same way that Carvalhal has in such a short space of time.

Clement’s coaching skills can’t be doubted, but there’s many other skills and characteristics required to be a successful manager and it makes you wonder if he has them all.

Clucas makes some very interesting points here. Was it not a happy vibe before Carvalhal? The players didn’t have any confidence whatsoever, was that down to Clement or simply down to our poor form? We’ve gone from losing almost week in week out, to barely losing at all. Quite an extreme change almost overnight that you can’t help but wonder how bad things were under Clement, and how badly a change was needed. Clement said it was down to ‘new manager bounce’ – the same as what he benefited from, but I feel that comment under-estimates both his and Carvalhal’s early work and impact made at Swansea City.