Paul Clement: Swansea City must maintain momentum
30th March 2017
Paul Clement has challenged Swansea City to maintain their Liberty momentum against Middlesbrough this weekend as he eyes 40-plus Premier League points.
Clement's side are under pressure to perform against one of their direct relegation rivals having lost their last two games at Hull City and Bournemouth.
But the Swans have won three in a row on their own patch, and Clement is targeting another home victory on Sunday.
"We have nine games to go this season and the fact that we haven't picked up any points in the last two means it's important we get points back on the board this weekend," he said.
"We have momentum at home and we will do our very best to keep that going.
"We seem to have said five or six times that the next game is really important. We had it against Crystal Palace, we had it against Leicester, we had it against Burnley, we had it against Hull and we had it against Bournemouth.
"It's another similar situation this weekend. It's another very important game and we'll be going out to win it."
The Swans go into the weekend three points clear of the relegation places on 27 points, although that gap may have been wiped out by the time they run out against second-bottom Boro.
Clement has always shied away from setting an end-of-season points target since arriving in SA1 back in January.
But when pressed about what it may take to guarantee survival, he pointed to the highest ever tally required to keep a team in the Premier League since it became a 20-team competition.
In the 2002-03 campaign, West Ham went down in 18th place despite amassing 42 points.
"The highest number of points a team has gone down with is 42, so we have got to try to get more than that," Clement said.
"There is pressure, of course, and we all feel it.
"But that shouldn't be used as a negative. Pressure is a good thing because it keeps you alert and it keeps your mind on the task in hand.
"And although the players have been coming back in dribs and drabs this week after the international break, everyone is preparing very well for the next game.
"We had a meeting this morning and spoke about some of the things we need to do on Sunday. We have been working hard to prepare for Middlesbrough and the players will be ready. It's then a question of delivering."
Clement revealed that all his international players have returned to the Swans' training base in good health.
And there is more good news for the Swans head coach, with Martin Olsson and Kyle Naughton both set to be available for the Boro game after injury lay-offs.
"They are both now fit," Clement said. "They are both in very good shape - they look strong and hungry to get back into the team.
"We have missed them because they have been influential not only in terms of defending but particularly attacking from their positions. We are very happy to have them back."
Clement on the support his team get at the Liberty
"I am sure the fans will be with us. If the players put on a performance from the start of the game and show a positive attitude, I have no doubt the crowd will be behind them."
Clement on Middlesbrough
"They have changed their coach. Steve (Agnew) has had one game in charge and I have watched that game closely to see if there have been any significant changes.
"I thought they played well against Manchester United - 3-1 flattered United a little bit.
"Middlesbrough had a lot of the ball, they created some good chances and they were positive when they went 2-1 down. These are all things we'll have to be ready for.
"They will be organised and they will be looking to come here and win."
Clement on Gylfi Sigurdsson's long-term future
"I think it's good for a young player to have ambition to play at the highest level. I have no problem with that.
"What I see in Gylfi is someone who is very motivated to play well here and to keep us in the league.
"Every day in training he does the best he can and it is no coincidence that he is a very good player. The top players have talent, but they also have an unbelievable work ethic. Gylfi has that.
"We have not had one conversation about him playing anywhere else and that's not a worry for me. Our focus is on Middlesbrough."
Clement on an imminent visit from the Swans' American owners
"I am looking forward to seeing Steve (Kaplan) and Jason (Levien). I spent some time with them during their last trip.
"They are coming over for two games this time and we have some meetings planned. We will talk about what we are doing right now and also what we are doing in the medium term."