There is nothing fishy about Swansea City’s incredible revival according to Ki Sung-Yueng, the Korean who reeled in the winner in the 1-0 victory over Burnley at the weekend.
Manager Carlos Carvalhal continues with his sea-based images of lobsters, sardines, beachside barbeques and swimming against the tide, but his Korean midfielder reckons the Portuguese boss is more salt of the earth than salt water.
After hammering home an 81st minute goal to make it 14 priceless Premier League points in just seven games under Carvalhal, Ki revealed the Swans surge is based on their manager’s good tactics and good humour.
“Sometimes he loves to tell the stories because he is a great gentleman and is very witty,” said Ki, whose goal was his first since May 2016.
“When you feel some tension, he will tell one of his stories that makes us laugh. But when we have to get down to business he becomes very serious. He says he has an ‘A’ face and a ‘B’ face, so when we have a laugh it’s great but when we have to work, we also concentrate.
“I want to keep this atmosphere, it’s happy. I want to keep this performance, too, and we must maintain this until the end of the season and then we will stay up.”
When Carvalhal washed up on Swansea Bay, four days after his Christmas Eve sacking by Sheffield Wednesday, his new club were bottom of the Premier League and anyone familiar with The Godfather would have said they were already sleeping with the fishes.
Since then, he has awoken them with four victories and two draws, meaning he has now collected more points than his predecessor Paul Clement had managed in the first 20 games of the season.
Including an FA Cup run that required two replays, Carvalhal has lost just once in 11 matches.
Burnley looked every inch a team without a win since December 12, but Ki says the Carvalhal effect has galvanised every player.
“Tactically, all over the pitch, he makes everyone work hard. He’s changed the players. Everyone knows what to do on the pitch, so he has made a big difference.
“The Arsenal and Liverpool games were the big turning points for us and now on the pitch we don’t think as if we are going to lose the game. That’s the main point for us, the winning mentality is getting better now.”
It was Ki’s first goal since May 2016 and it capped another convincing display for a player whose current contract has yet to be renewed.
“It has been a long time since I scored, I can’t really remember my last one against West Ham.
“When you score a goal the feeling is great and also when you win the games like this in this situation.
“Of course, you want to score more goals but sometimes I can’t. First of all, I want to help the team to win the game, not just for myself but for my team as well.”
While Swansea float back to the surface, Burnley manager Sean Dyche and his team are treading water but their former Swansea midfielder Jack Cork believes 11 games without a win will soon be put right.
Cork admitted: “We knew a bad run would come at some point but we don’t want to let the first half of the season go to waste and just peter out.
“We need to find some more belief in ourselves and get that mentality back of not conceding.”
“We’re still in seventh and we’re having a great season. A top half finish would be amazing. It would show how much progress we have made. That would be a good target for us.”