Carlos Carvalhal became Swansea City’s fifth managerial appointment in two seasons, and the weirdest one of the lot – Steve McClaren is the only recent Premier League appointment, of someone who joined a top flight club despite their last job being one that saw them sacked at a Championship club.
Paul Clement – with Claude Makelele alongside him – in the Swansea City dugout was seen as shrewd business by the Swans, with Englishman having shadowed Carlo Ancelotti at some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
And when Clement was able to use his links at Bayern Munich to bring Renato Sanches to Wales on loan, the optimism around the Liberty Stadium saw dreams of a campaign free from relegation fears.
But a 3-1 away defeat to Everton was the final straw for Paul Clement’s reign with the Swans, and after a couple of caretaker manager games in charge for Leon Britton, Carvalhal was appointed.
The Portuguese was linked was Swansea City last season, with the former Sporting CP manager taking Sheffield Wednesday to the Championship Play-Offs, and despite the Owls struggles this campaign, Carvalhal has done no damage to his reputation with the Swans.
More than likely, though, Huw Jenkins & co probably opted for the one-time Porto player due to the fact he was unattached – it’s a weird mentality of clubs to be reluctant to spend millions on a manager, despite their importance to a club’s success ultimately greater than the players.
When new managers join, there tends to be an uplift in form, with players rejuvenated, and the five games since Clement’s sacking are no different: aside from the expected defeats to Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, draws to Crystal Palace and Newcastle, plus a dramatic victory against Watford have given the Swans a cause for optimism.
From the training ground tactics to the diet of the players, Carvalhal will be tweaking or overhauling every aspect of Swansea – every new manager would – but the in-game management is where a new manager can really earn his corn.
Substitutions are so important to a game, it is surprising that so many managers seem to have their subs predetermined before kick-off, without even knowing whether they’ll need to see out a game or try and claw themselves back into it – Arsene Wenger is the worst for this, with the standard 65-70th minute introduction of Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud or Theo Walcott, irrelevant of the game situation.
In their 23 Premier League games so far this season, the most common first substitute is to bring on Tammy Abraham or Leroy Fer, with both players being used four times as the first sub – Renato Sanches has also been used four times, only the on-loan Bayern Munich midfielder is the man to come off first.
Oliver McBurnie is the most used second substitute by the three men who have been in charge of Swansea City this season, and although Tammy Abraham has been subbed off as the second sub, five times, McBurnie has only directly replaced his fellow striker twice.
Wayne Routledge on and Tom Carroll off has represented the most common ‘last throw of the dice’ by the Welsh outfit.
But taking just Paul Clement’s reign, the names change slightly, with Leroy Fer becoming the lone name as the first player to be subbed on. However, under Carvalhal, the Dutch midfielder has been named on the bench in his three games, but hasn’t played a minute of football under the new manager.
Luciano Narsingh appears to be deemed a super-sub by both Carvalhal and Clement, with the former bringing on the winger in each of his games, but twice as the first substitute, whilst the latter preferred to utilise Narsingh’s pace once Leroy Fer was on the pitch.
The most interesting difference in the two manager’s in-game tactics is how long they take to change the game.
Of course, Carvalhal is a manager with significantly less time to rescue Swansea from the relegation zone, so the need to be proactive is a must for a team in the Swans’ predicament.
It’s important to note that, during Clement’s final game, he was forced into taking Wilfried Bony off after five minutes due to injury, therefore, if you remove that anomaly, Carlo Ancelotti’s best mate’s average time for a first sub goes up to the 60th minute.
And it’s working, with Swansea scoring three goals after the 80th minute since Clement’s sacking, compared to just the one under him – when coming off the bench, players need as much time as possible to get themselves fully involved with ‘feel’ of the game.
Four points from three games is a good start under the new manager – Clement’s side took four points from his last 10 games – and the Swans can certainly avoid relegation if Carvalhal continues to not let games drift away from them.