Date: 7th April 2018 at 6:43pm
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Swansea City head-coach Carlos Carvalhal has been like a breath of fresh air since he came in at the end of 2017, offering us real hope of Premier League survival after a nightmare first half to the season under Paul Clement.

And yet while he deserves plenty of praise for getting us off the bottom of the table and then out of the bottom three, you can’t help but feel that we’re going back to our old ways of producing negative football with a defend-first mindset.

And that’s fine when you’re playing against the top 6. After all, it got us wins against Liverpool and Arsenal, and was unfortunate not to get a point at home against Spurs, but we’re starting to sit deep and set up to defend against teams around us. We started quite negative at Huddersfield before having to go ultra-defensive after Jordan Ayew’s sending off. We were defensive again today at West Brom, and Carvalhal revealed why he thought his team sat back early on at the Hawthorns:

“I think the first half was a bit of a consequence of our last two games, against Tottenham and Manchester United.

“In both games we played a lot without the ball and I think we brought some of that into this game. We were trying to protect our goal and we did that pretty well, but with the ball we must play better.

“When we conceded the goal, we played with freedom. We tried to run and play to achieve the point and we did that.”

As a spectacle, the game was awful. Half way through I thought it could have been filed with some of the worst performances we produced when the likes of Guidolin and Clement were in charge. Guidolin was defensive, and also picked up points here and there to keep us up, and today it felt very similar.

I was hopeful that we’d name a more positive line-up today after going too defensive at Manchester United last weekend. Carvalhal gave Abraham a start after a good outing at Old Trafford, but he lacked support, as Ayew was told to play wide right, with Carlos maintaining a conservative 5-4-1 system rather than a more adventurous 3-4-3 or 3-5-2.

Andre Ayew had our best chance of the game during the first half after some good link-up play involving Abraham and Clucas. Ayew received the ball as he made a run into the box but he steered a left-footed effort just wide of the post.

Surely that was a signal to get Ayew into a more central attacking position to support Abraham, who was feeding off scraps all by himself. But, Ayew went back to wide right, having to do more defensive work than offensive, as he provided protection in front of Naughton.

West Brom dominated spells in the first half, while an improvement from the Swans saw the possession settle a little, with 52% in favour of the home side.

The hosts looked more likely to score though, their managed 15 shots in total, with 8 of them blocked. Swansea’s one shot on target in the game was Abraham’s 75th-minute equalising goal.

Carvalhal added:

“The game was not a good game,”

“We expect to play the we did after they scored from the start. This is how we play – without fear, pressing the opponent, with more dynamic and creating problems for the opponent.

Despite the performance, Carvalhal was happy enough with a point:

“That makes it difficult for us, and at the end one point is very good for us.

“We have six games left with four at home and two away. At home normally we are more strong and more aggressive, and what we have to do in the next game (at home to Everton next weekend) is play like we did after we conceded here.”

We’re back at home next weekend and what a relief that is, because these away displays are a tough watch. Hopefully Carvalhal will be more confident in his team at home against Everton, another side struggling for form.

And while the 5-4-1 formation does offer good defensive cover, it’s a frustrating one to watch as it’s simply set up with the first thing in mind to not concede, which leans to the initial point about Carvalhal morphing into his predecessor, Paul Clement.

Carvalhal’s optimism and focus on positives helped us when he first came in and he needs to get back to that mindset. A big factor in that could be Jordan Ayew. He was in fine form before his sending off and we’ve struggled without him in the last 3 games.

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One Reply to “Is Carvalhal Morphing Into Paul Clement!?”

  • No he’s nowhere near Clement’s lamentable reign. We would have lost the last 2 away games under Clement. I feel that Carvalhal has been hit hard by Jordan Ayew’s suspension. When the 2 brothers played against West Ham we showed a dynamic side to our game. Of course Carvalhal is experiencing the lack of a midfield general now that Britton is history. We need at least 2 perhaps 3 midfielders in the Summer. But where I find it difficult to understand Carvalhal is he seems reluctant to play Narsingh and Dyer together, in fact he won’t play Narsingh at all. This is where he shows he is scared to play risky players and is obviously nervous about our midfield. But I think 1 win and 2 draws will be enough to keep us up and Carvalhal knows this too. In my opinion he deserves a new contract in the Summer, we won’t get anyone else with his experience.

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