Josep Clotet's journey to Swansea City
27th September 2014
Under the management partnership of Garry Monk and Josep Clotet, the Swans have enjoyed a positive start to their Barclays Premier League campaign.
Three wins from their opening five fixtures sees Monk's men sit in fifth position in the top tier, ahead of this afternoon's clash with Sunderland.
And, in an exclusive interview with our matchday programme Jack Magazine, Swans assistant manager Josep Clotet spoke about his dream job, being a "constant learner" and his journey down an unexpected career path.
Josep Clotet's sense of adventure and eagerness to learn has led him down a rather unexpected career path.
Despite his love for football, Swansea City's assistant manager, known as 'Pep', never anticipated he would make a living from the sport that is his passion.
Born just outside Barcelona, Pep played for his hometown club CF Igualada before injury curtailed his amateur career.
By his own admission, at the time of his injury, the Spaniard was already well aware that he didn't possess the ability required to make it in the professional game.
"My dream job has always been a job that allows me to travel," Pep explains to Jack Magazine.
"I love travelling and learning from different cultures because I consider myself a constant learner - learning is what motivates me.
"I was always aware that I wasn't good enough to make a living out of playing and, in truth, coaching was just a hobby. It was never my goal to make a living out of coaching, but it has turned out this way."
Pep's injury led him to his first experience in coaching when he was asked if he could help coach children with his local club.
"I first started coaching at CF Igualada," says Pep. "It was coaching young players, which turned out really well.
"It felt easy because I love football and I liked being able to help young players develop.
"And as I got more involved I started studying the game further before training for my pro licence, which I managed to attain when I was just 26."
During Jack Magazine's sit-down conversation with Garry Monk's right-hand man, it quickly became apparent the expression "student of the game" epitomises Pep.
Having began his professional coaching career in his native country, Clotet went on to enjoy coaching roles in Norway and Sweden, while he also spent many years travelling across the continent to learn more about the beautiful game.
During a year in Sweden, Clotet was assistant manager to Roland Nilsson at Malmo FF, where he helped the club win the 2010 Allsvenskan championship, prior to joining fellow top-flight side Halmstads BK as head coach.
In September 2011, Pep moved on to Norwegian outfit Viking FK as Age Hareide's head coach, before returning to Spain in July 2012 when he took over the reigns at Malaga's reserve side in the Tercera Division, where Manuel Pellegrini was in charge of the first-team.
"I had a few nice ideas about coaching, and I put a lot of time into learning and developing," admits Pep. "Since then, I grew to love the game even more.
"I didn't anticipate to one day be coaching here in the Premier League, nor did I ever expect to work in countries like Sweden or Norway.
"I think it is very good for coaches, as well as people in general, to move around and learn new things.
"Every summer for five or six years, I travelled all over Europe to study. I've been to see all of the clubs in Holland, all of the clubs in Germany, in Spain - everywhere."
Pep's journey across Europe has enabled him to gain an impressive pool of knowledge about football coaching.
From the brand of football in Sweden to the 'total football' tactical theory of the Dutch to Marcelo Bielsa's attacking style of play, Clotet admits he has taken something from everywhere and everyone he has visited.
But, ironically, the greatest impact on his own football philosophy came from back home in Barcelona.
"There are differences in coaching in every country I have visited and worked in, but I have learned something from everywhere I have been," he acknowledges.
"The biggest impact for me was what Johan Cruyff did with Barcelona. Like with everything in life, until someone achieves something, it is considered impossible.
"For example, Cruyff said he was going to play without a striker and play one-touch football, which everyone thought was impossible. But he did it and it turned out very well.
"Also, when I was studying in Barcelona, I watched a lot of training sessions when Louis van Gaal took over - maybe about 160 sessions.
"Cruyff was all about the speed of the ball and the speed of moving it around, while van Gaal was focused on finding the free man when in possession.
"It was about the balance of the team and having an extra man in different areas of the pitch. It was unbelievable to analyse and incredible to watch on the pitch."
Clotet's vast experience for a coach of such a young age eventually alerted the attention of the Swans.
Originally appointed as an academy consultant in November 2013, Swansea's football philosophy proved a perfect match for Pep.
"I was originally appointed as academy consultant because the club wanted someone young, who had a lot of experience in coaching and had the right ideas," he explains.
"The Chairman wanted me to be close to the club, and I liked the way the way he was thinking and what he and the board had already done with the club.
"I was at Malaga at the time - a big club in Spain - but I wanted to come here to see how Swansea did what they did, to learn and help develop a club who play a style of football that I have always liked.
"I always thought there was a lot to learn from the Premier League, and I learned a great deal from working with the likes of Tony Pennock - who had built the academy up from nothing - and Nigel Rees.
"But at the same time, I was watching a lot of first-team games, and I started to see the tactical patterns of the Premier League.
"It has got to a point where I have seen so many games that it is difficult for me to watch and enjoy a game now without analysing it."
And despite only joining the club six months previous, the 37-year-old made a quick impression at Swansea City, which saw him officially appointed as Garry Monk's assistant in May.
"It is what I like because I enjoy supporting the manager, helping provide him with what I feel is the right information and advising him the best I can," explains Pep.
"The job allows me to focus on what I really enjoy - analysing the opposition and our own players, watching games, as well as helping the manager implement his ideas into the team's training.
"It is then the manager's decision to decide what to take from the advice I give him."
And the Swans have enjoyed a positive start to the season, under the management partnership of Monk and Clotet.
"We have had a good start," adds Pep. "Garry is getting the best out of everyone.
"In particular, he was very clear about improving the defensive stability of the team, which we did a lot of work on over the summer.
"You can see from watching our first few games that we have improved defensively.
"Now that we have the defensive balance right, we want to build on our offensive game.
"It's important we achieve our goal of attaining safety as soon as possible.
"Then, after that, we will be aiming to achieve the next step and the step after that. It is very important to keep progressing and maintain that hunger to achieve more.
"We will enjoy these good moments, but it's important that we keep working hard and keep our feet on the ground.
"We want to get back to where Swansea were in terms of our positional play and possession game."
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