Alfie Mawson admits he cannot quite put his finger on the Carlos Carvalhal effect – but he will settle for simply reaping the benefit.
The Swansea City defender has paid a glowing tribute to his manager who has steered the club to a position where they are now four points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
When Carvalhal arrived in late December, the club were five points adrift of safety. In political terms, that’s a nine-point swing to the Carvalhal Party.
The Swans – who dug in for almost 80 minutes with 10 men to earn a gritty draw at Huddersfield on Saturday – have lost only twice in 16 matches in all competitions under Carvalhal, who has transformed their fortunes since replacing the sacked Paul Clement.
“He’s been brilliant,” said Mawson. “He’s been a breath of fresh air. He’s full of character, full of energy, everything we’ve been thriving off. It’s a pleasure to play underneath him.”
Mawson and fellow central defenders Federico Fernandez and Mike van der Hoorn led a colossal rearguard action to deny Huddersfield victory and a claim a 0-0- draw after the early dismissal of team-mate Jordan Ayew.
When asked if Carvalhal was a potential candidate for manager of the year, Mawson said: “He’s done something right, hasn’t he?
“Whatever he’s done, it’s working. We’re feeding off him. He’s funny, he’s a laugh, but when he gets down to business, he means business.
“We’ve got so much respect for him. He’s got so much respect for us. Whatever he’s doing, long may it continue.”
Carvalhal said the club may appeal against Ayew’s dismissal – referee Michael Oliver showed a straight red card for his studs-up challenge on Jonathan Hogg.
But Mawson agreed with Huddersfield boss David Wagner, who felt the Ghana international’s sending off was fully justified.
“I watched it back,” said Mawson. “There are no arguments. I can understand why he gave it.”
Mawson has been linked with a place in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad for Russia 2018, while Carvalhal rates him as one the best centre-halves in the Premier League.
“It would be an honour, don’t get me wrong,” Mawson added. “I’m English through and through, and I’d be very proud.
“But I’ve got other things to worry about at the moment. I’ve got to help keep this team in the Premier League.”
Only West Brom have scored less Premier League goals than both Swansea and Huddersfield this season, but the West Yorkshire club’s midfielder Aaron Mooy remains confident they can beat the drop.
“We’re not in the worst position,” Mooy said. “We have a great chance. We will just keep going and look forward to the next game.”
That is against another relegation rival, Crystal Palace, at the John Smith’s Stadium next week.
But Mooy felt Saturday’s frustrating stalemate against Swansea was two points dropped.
“Yeah, it’s a bit like that,” the Australia international added. “It was a great opportunity for us.
“But the manager said to us that we tried everything, gave everything we had, stuck to what he said – it just wasn’t our day and we need to win a few more games.”