How Swansea City defied the odds to stay in the Premier League

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Swansea City: A Premier League survival story

After their sixth and most trying Premier League season to date, Swansea City can look forward to a seventh crack at upsetting the odds in the top flight.

In the depths of winter, staring up from the bottom of the table and about to install their third manager of the campaign, few would have been prepared to wager safety would be achieved with a game to spare.

Paul Clement deserves a huge amount of credit.

It has not always been plain sailing for him, despite a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace the day he took over in January.

Swans were bottom when Clement began

After an initial bounce, the Swans suffered a six-game winless run, when it appeared even Clement was perplexed how to alter the seemingly downward spiral.

But minutes after a dismal display at Watford, Clement went for broke. He heaped pressure on his squad by declaring the next game - at home Stoke City - was a "must win".

And in a bid to encapsulate the true spirit of Swansea City, he recalled Leon Britton to the midfield.

The pocket dynamo not only provided impetus on the field, he galvanised his team mates' commitment to the cause of sustaining a top flight place for a club which had been on the brink of Football League survival not too long before.

Swansea City's Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fernando Llorente and Leroy Fer celebrate
Spanish striker Fernando Llorente has scored 14 goals since joining Swansea City last summer

Fans - particularly at Watford - had called for Britton's return earlier. In hindsight, Clement's timing was near perfect.

The Britton-inspired 2-0 victory over Stoke was pivotal, not least because main striker Fernando Llorente regained his scoring touch and has now delivered three in the last four games.

When clubs are in trouble, they need their big players to deliver most. World Cup winner Llorente and the talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson have done just that to great effect.

Those two players have embodied the Swans' greater quality over their relegation rivals. Sigurdsson would be coveted by most Premier League sides and Llorente's end of season form shows why January links with Chelsea were not so far fetched.

The basis for the revival has been Clement's skill in organising the Swans defensively. His coaching has been exemplary, best shown in a hugely impressive 3-2 win at Liverpool.

The achievement was ample evidence as to why Clement had been so trusted by Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, Paris St German, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Swansea City have survived despite selling leader Ashley Williams to Everton in the close season; starting the campaign amid divisive acrimony over an American takeover; the cack-handed dismissal of Francesco Guidolin and making a huge blunder in appointing the short-lived Bob Bradley.

But Clement, overlooked when Bradley got the job, has helped avert a potentially disastrous season.

His coaching expertise has been supplemented by some astute January signings. They have not all worked out yet. But Martin Olsson, Tom Carroll and, belatedly, Jordan Ayew have played their parts.

Sometimes-maligned chairman Huw Jenkins called Clement "a good fit" for the Swans. The appointment indicated the club was going back to the Swansea way of doing things.

"Swansea City's strength over many years had been the quality of the football coached on the training field. That has always been at the forefront of our success," said Jenkins.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Paul can not only help us regain that footballing belief, but also restore some much needed pride back into the football club."

There can be no pride in having to fight a relegation fight. But there is pride in successfully doing so.

Clement has done that. Their seventh season at the top table beckons.

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