Carlos Carvalhal is the appropriate man for challenge of keeping Swansea City up
The much travelled coach has made an instant impact at a club that has made a habit of changing their manager regularly in recent seasons.
It’s an old gag, but it sounded right when Carlos Carvalhal, the much-travelled Portuguese coach first came to English football.
Why had he chosen Championship side Sheffield Wednesday? Because of the name, of course.
It would be Wednesday today, by Thursday he’d be somewhere else, and on Friday, he’d be thinking about his next job after that.
And so on, the point being that Carvalhal, the 52 year-old who has just become Swansea City’s manager a matter of days after leaving
Sheffield Wednesday, has a reputation for restlessness, for moving from job to job at a rapid rate even by modern standards.
He has certainly racked them up: 17 stints as a head coach in what is still shy of 20 years in the profession, a number that excludes his relatively long stint as technical director at UAE’s Al Ahli, the post he left to move to the English Championship not long before Ahli made it to the Asian Champions League final in 2015.
There was also the swift hop-scotch from Wednesday, where he departed - after the longest gig of his career, two and half years - by mutual consent on December 24th. He was being announced as Swansea’s new manager four days later.
If Carvalhal’s employment record suggests itchy feet, well ... he has come to the right club now. Swansea have developed a very itchy trigger-finger when it comes to managers.
Paul Clement, fired last month, lasted a year, and his successor is the seventh man to take charge in a period of barely two years, since Garry Monk had his employment terminated in December 2015.
Winters have become tough and unforgiving at the Welsh club once lauded for the calm, sensible and progressive way they operate.
Fact is, Carvalhal, who guided Wednesday to the play-offs last May, had been on Swansea’s radar for a while, and, for all the brevity of some of his appointments, he is a man who can make an impact quickly.
He is certainly worldly. He has coached at various levels with Portuguese clubs, taken some unglamorous ones into European competition, and worked in Greece and Turkey.
He is thorough and he has friends in high places: he studied coaching in the same lecture halls and practice pitches as his compatriot and contemporary Jose Mourinho.
And on Saturday, taking charge of a Premier League match for the first time, with just a coupe of training sessions with his Swansea players under his belt, Carvalhal won his first three points.
the club at the bottom of the table responding to going 1-0 down at Watford to snatch two goals, from Jordan Ayew and Luciano Narsingh, in the last four minutes.
Swansea remain three points from safety and have the second-worst goal difference in the table, but there was evidence of renewed vigour in their comeback, which Carvalhal hopes they can channel into Tuesday's meeting in South Wales with Tottenham Hotspur.
He has certainly packed a lot in to a few days in the job. The assumption was that Swansea would stay under caretaker watch – the veteran player Leon Britton had been on the bench for two matches, the second of them a 5-0 loss to Liverpool - until this weekend.
“We had agreed I would watch the games against Watford and Tottenham and then start working next week,” Carvalhal told reporters.
But a sleepless night last Wednesday – that’s three days after leaving Sheffield Wednesday - changed his mind.
“I got up at 4am and travelled to be with the Swansea players at training on Thursday.”
The mission, he felt, was urgent. “Time is our enemy at the moment. We worked hard on analysis and to give confidence to the players. The win was a small step in a very difficult job.”
He has had no promises for significant transfer-window funds this month to strengthen a squad evidently missing the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, sold to Everton in the summer, and Fernando Llorente, the striker who now understudies Harry Kane at Tottenham.
Rather, the hope is he can galvanise young talents like centre-forward Tammy Abraham and Carvalhal’s compatriot Renato Sanches, the starlet on loan from Bayern Munich.
Sanches, a European champion with Portugal and a €35 million (Dh154.2m) transfer at 18 years old, is, at just 20, at a crossroads. So are Swansea City.
Updated: January 1, 2018 03:59 PM