Let’s start with the Daily Mail headline, presumably spat out of a random headline generator that’s cheaper to run than a bank of sub-editors: ‘CLEMENT’S CRIME? BEING BRITISH.’
Obviously, the implication from that headline is that Clement is being prosecuted or persecuted in some way. We weren’t aware of such a prosecution/persecution but we are willing to keep reading. For this is Martin Samuel, multi-award-winning columnist. He definitely would not be writing some kind of ill-thought-out nonsense about British managers to appeal to his readers’ fears of foreign invasion.
‘On January 3, when Paul Clement was appointed manager, Swansea were bottom of the Premier League. So were Hull City, on January 5, the day they recruited Marco Silva.’
So far, so correct. Both looked like pretty difficult jobs. We can all agree on that. And it does now seem extraordinary that David Moyes’ Sunderland were above both in the table at that juncture.
‘Clement was Swansea’s third manager of the season, not including caretakers, and he got one good break. On the day he took charge, a Swansea team picked and managed by Alan Curtis won 2-1 at Crystal Palace.’
Well, not really. As your Daily Mail colleague wrote at the time, Clement ‘took the half-time team-talk’ and ‘played a role in both changes and therefore the winning goal’. So actually, big-ups to Clement on that one.
‘So Swansea actually had 15 points by the time Clement took his first game. Even so, in steering Swansea to safety he has averaged 1.35 points per match; from 0.75 before.’
Yes, he really has done an excellent job. We can all surely agree on that. Well done, Paul Clement. We’re still unsure who has decided to target him for this excellence but they had better have a bloody good explanation.
‘Silva has also done a decent job at Hull. Even so, he could not prevent their relegation on Sunday averaging 1.23 points in his 17 games in charge.’
Mediawatch cannot help thinking that using average points per game is an odd tactic when the pair have managed exactly the same number of games. It couldn’t just be that the gap between 1.35 and 1.23 looks considerably bigger than the gap between 23 and 21 points, could it? Oh and how odd that Samuel has not added the information that Hull had gathered only 0.65 points per game before Silva’s arrival? An unfortunate oversight.
‘Decent job’? What Samuel does not mention is that Hull – a team that were bottom, remember – delivered better results under Silva than his beloved West Ham as well as Bournemouth, Watford, Burnley, Stoke, West Brom, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. It may or may not be relevant that six of those clubs ended the season being managed by British managers but we know one thing for sure: Samuel will not be mentioning that.
‘Paul Merson wasn’t right to dismiss him, but he wasn’t entirely wrong that a British coach could have done as well. Would Gary Rowett have kept Hull up, for instance? We will never know.’
Indeed. And we will never know whether a foreign manager would have kept Swansea up. Or whether Arsenal would have won the Premier League with Jamie Vardy. Or whether Brexit would have happened without the Daily Mail. We could go on but we would like to get this out by 12…
‘Yet while Silva has been linked with jobs at Southampton, Watford, West Ham – even Arsenal – Clement is tipped to take over at, well, nowhere. He was previously assistant manager at Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain after Carlo Ancelotti worked with him at Chelsea and rated him highly.’
A small but important point: Marco Silva is out of contract this summer while Paul Clement has two years of his deal to run.
Another small but important point: Marco Silva has managed 238 games of competitive football; Paul Clement has managed 51.
A bigger and definitely more important point: Marco Silva has managed Estoril to promotion and then unprecedented European football, Sporting Lisbon to their first silverware in seven years and Olympiacos to the Greek title; Paul Clement has won nothing as a manager. Avoiding relegation with Swansea is an excellent start but it is merely a start.
‘Yet now he’s a Swansea man. That’s his level. See if he can keep them up next year, too. And the year after. And when they finally get bored with him, or he slips up, he’ll just be another failed British manager.’
Thankfully we have some precedents to look at here:
We have British manager Brendan Rodgers, who was given the Liverpool job after just one season in the Premier League with Swansea.
We have foreign manager Michael Laudrup, who won silverware with Swansea but was then sacked when he ‘slipped up’. He is now managing in Qatar.
We have British manager Garry Monk, who kept Swansea in the Premier League but was then sacked when he ‘slipped up’. He is now managing one of the biggest clubs in the Championship.
We have foreign manager Francesco Guidolin, who kept Swansea in the Premier League but was then sacked when he ‘slipped up’. He is now out of work.
We have foreign manager Bob Bradley, who did the square root of bugger all for Swansea and was sacked. He is now out of work.
It sounds very much like Swansea – like most Premier League clubs – sack managers when things are going badly, regardless of nationality, but that there is a very notable example of the club being a stepping stone to better things if you can produce excellent football over an entire season.
But we presume that Samuel is talking in general about the plight of poor British managers, who are discarded when clubs and fans ‘get bored’ of mere survival. Like Sam Allardyce at West Ham, who has famously never worked again after being dubbed a ‘failed British manager’. Or Tony Pulis at Stoke, who has famously never worked again after being dubbed a ‘failed British manager’.
‘Useless, aren’t they? That’s why they never get the top jobs. That’s why they never get to work at Olympiacos or Sporting Lisbon. They’re just not sophisticated like Silva.’
We suspect Marco Silva got the job at Sporting Lisbon because he won promotion and achieved European football with lowly Estoril. Imagine for a second Sean Dyche finishing fifth with Burnley; he might well get the Everton job if it became available.
And we suspect that Marco Silva got the job at Olympiacos because they were impressed with the progress he made – including winning silverware – for a historic European club in Lisbon.
Have any of Steve Bruce, or Mark Hughes, or Tony Pulis, or Alan Pardew, or Sam Allardyce ever even applied for a job outside England? How many foreign languages have they learned between them? It’s not about ‘sophistication’; it’s about being prepared to work more than 25 miles from the nearest Beefeater.
Nobody thinks Eddie Howe is ‘useless’. Or Sean Dyche. Or Allardyce. Or Pulis. But none of those managers have the kind of experience that can easily be transferred to Arsenal or Liverpool or Manchester United. Just ask David Moyes. If they want to end up managing Arsenal, they would be better served learning Portuguese and going to work for Sporting Lisbon. Manage at a club with expectations. Manage at a club with European commitments. Manage at a club stacked with internationals. Manage at a club where the players’ egos are bigger than your own.
‘And we return to Sam Allardyce’s old chestnut. If he was Paulo Clemente, do you think he might have got a better offer this summer?’
Firstly, does Samuel know that the summer hasn’t actually happened yet?
And secondly, to answer his question: Of course not. Unless of course this pretty sophisticated-sounding Paulo Clemente had managed more than 51 games and had not been quite recently sacked by Derby County.
Recommended reading of the day
Dave Hytner on the last game at White Hart Lane.
Rory Smith on Chelsea’s league title win.
Paul Doyle on N’Golo Kante.