Swansea City assistant manager Pep Clotet calls to keep expectations real
Swans assistant manager Pep Clotet has urged the Jack Army to "keep expectations real" in a bid to reduce the pressure on Garry Monk's men ahead of a huge Barclays Premier League campaign.
Clotet, who has been Monk's right-hand man since the club stalwart took over the managerial duties 18 months ago, believes the Swans face their toughest season in the Premier League since joining the elite back in 2011.
And with the club counting down the days to the start of their fifth consecutive top flight campaign on the back of a superb eighth-place finish and a record points tally, Clotet has warned Swansea's growing band of supporters not to get too carried away.
"We had a fantastic season last year,'' explained Clotet. "But we have to keep expectations real.
"Our first goal must always be to stay in the Premier League. That will be a huge success for this club. Once that's achieved then, and only then, can we push to finish as high as possible with as many points as we can.
"The fans can help us achieve our main target by keeping expectations real and not apply extra pressure on the team to do this or that after last season's finish, because I think even some of the bigger teams sometimes struggle with the pressure to achieve things.
"Once we have reached that safety point, I think everyone saw last season how self-motivated this squad is to push on right to the very last game of the campaign.
"It's not going to be easy this season because I believe the league is going to be more competitive than ever. It will probably be our toughest with the extra TV money on offer.
"We saw at Leicester last season how motivated they were to get a result and move a step closer to securing their top-flight status. With the amount of extra money at stake next season to stay in the league, I think you will see more teams perform like that - and at a much earlier point in the season. Every game is going to be huge, so we must ensure we are always up for the fight.
"What our fans can take for granted though is that we have already started to plan this season with the maximum intensity and passion to reach our best level. We know it will be tough but, like last season, we are going to give it our very best to ensure we play at the top of our capacity in every game in order to achieve every goal we set.''
Born just outside Barcelona, the Spaniard originally joined the Swans as Academy Consultant in November 2013 before stepping up to assist Monk following the departure of Michael Laudrup.
Having attained his Uefa Pro-licence in 2003 at the age of just 26, he coached at Espanyol for five years before becoming assistant-manager to Roland Nilsson at Malmo and then spells at Halmstads, Norway's Viking FK and Malaga.
It was Pep's ability to develop players for the first team at both Espanyol and Malaga that saw his reputation soar in football circles, including a spell as Director of the Catalonia Federation's Coaching School where he developed several high-profile courses for Pro-licence coaches.
His focus for the last 18 months though has been firmly fixed on assisting Monk get the best out of his Swans squad.
"Last season was very intense for a number of reasons,'' added Clotet. "Firstly because it was Garry's first full season in charge and I had to try and maximise my focus to give him brief and detailed information that was straight to the point.
"It was important to minimise any mistakes and give him very detailed information and background on the opposition. For example, how teams attacked and how they defended, strengths and weaknesses in the final thirds in particular, so that it made it quicker and easier for him to make calculated decisions. That included patterns of play and tactical systems.
"Because Garry knows his players so well, it's a lot easier for him to get the messages across to them on the training ground.
"I think we made a good team and did some good work. I will always respect his way of thinking. Not because he's the manager, but because I think he has a great talent. He's the main one that made Swansea City last season.
"The most important target for us, which we set at the start of the season, was to get to that 40-point marker to guarantee our Premier League status and allow us to push on to try and beat our best points tally - which we did.
"We felt the best way to reach them was to improve our defensive strength because we knew that was the starter for performance and getting results.
"We also wanted to make ourselves more adaptable as a team to play different styles depending on the opposition and changing match situations on the day.
"We will always be Swansea City and you have to play your own way, but you also have to be pragmatic in your performance. We got that right last season.
"The club in general, staff, players and even the fans bought into it. We will always be Swansea City, but they understood and accepted why we needed to do it to reach the higher levels of performance before concentrating more on our offensive development towards the end of the season.
"As a club we have a different approach to training and performance than some other clubs - and that helps us to get good results. Our way is to keep implementing creative ideas that can make a tactical difference for us so we can keep competing at this league for many years to come."
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