Paul Clement: Swansea City must push on ahead of Chelsea
23rd February 2017
Paul Clement has challenged his Swansea City players to make life easy for themselves this spring as he prepares to return to Chelsea.
Bottom of the Premier League when Clement was appointed in early January, the Swans have hauled themselves up to 15th thanks to a run of four wins in their last six top-flight games.
But Clement insists the only time his team will be able to relax is if they are safely in mid-table come the closing weeks of the campaign.
"I have said to the players that yes we have put ourselves in a good position, but how hard are we willing to work to make sure we continue to improve?" the Swans head coach said.
"How much do we want to avoid suffering at the end of the season?
"Because unless we keep winning games and progressing up the table, we are going to find ourselves in a position where we need, say, four points from the last two games of the season.
"In situations like that, the level of pressure on you is very, very high.
"We want to keep getting points now to make sure that we don't end up in that kind of situation, and the next opportunity to get points is at Chelsea.
"We know we are going to have to be at our very best against them, but we are not daunted by the challenge.
"When we went to Liverpool and Manchester City, I don't think people expected much of us.
"But we won one of those games and were unlucky not to get a positive result in the other, and I think both those teams would say we gave them hard games.
"I think that in this moment, we will give anyone a difficult game."
The Swans will again be without Ki Sung-Yueng (knee), Nathan Dyer (Achilles) and Jefferson Montero (hamstring) as they go in search of a first ever Premier League victory at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea, who are eight points clear at the top of the table, have lost just one league game on their own patch all season, against Liverpool back in September.
But the Swans took a point off the Blues when they met at the Liberty earlier in the season, and Clement is determined to ensure his team produce another positive display in the return fixture.
"We have to go and be effective and try to put on a good performance," he said.
"Nobody is expecting us to win. That takes the pressure off to a certain extent.
"But we have to put pressure on ourselves. We are in decent form and we want to continue to improve. That means putting in a good performance even if we do not end up getting the result we all want."
Clement admits he is relishing the prospect of a return to Chelsea.
He worked part-time in the club's academy between 1995 and 2000 and then returned in a full-time post in 2007, going on to work as Carlo Ancelotti's assistant boss between 2009 and 2011.
"The last two seasons were very memorable. I was lucky to be part of a special team who won the double in 2010-11, which is something that has not been done often," Clement added.
"I still keep in touch with some people who work at the club and, although a lot of the players have changed, I know John Terry, David Luiz and Nemanja Matic.
"I have very fond memories of the club and it's an honour to be going back to coach a team against Chelsea."
Clement on the Swans' spell without a game
"It's been a good opportunity to get some extra training load into the players and also some more tactical information.
"It's been an extremely valuable period because this is the first time since I came in where we have had a chance to do a really good amount of training work with the players."
Clement on Chelsea's title chances
"They will not think it's over and nor will the teams around them, but they are in a very good position.
"They deserve to be there based on the way they have been playing.
"They have got good players and they have a very good coach in Antonio Conte, and that is a good combination."
Clement on Alfie Mawson's form
"He is one of a number of players who I think have stepped up their performances. He has shown his potential and is playing well.
"He needs to keep working hard and stay focused to ensure he keeps on progressing."
Clement on the chances of any complacency in his squad
"There is no chance of that. The players have been very professional and very focused because they know there is a massive amount of work still to be done.
"They are pushing and pushing and pushing in training. We all know there's a long way to go."
Clement on a possible new deal for Federico Fernandez
"It's not quite there but things are moving in a very positive direction. Hopefully it will be sorted soon. The signs are positive."