Paul Clement returns to Swansea City on Saturday with an appreciative thumbs-up from a player who will try and ruin his day.
The former Swans manager brings his Reading side to the Liberty Stadium 10 months after he was sacked in a gamble that eventually backfired and led to the club’s relegation from the Premier League.
Clement had produced a miraculous escape the season before, but was not given an opportunity to repeat it last December and although Carlos Carvalhal temporarily lifted the club clear of trouble they eventually slipped back and went down.
But the turbulence of last season should not detract from the size of Clement’s achievement the previous season, according to Swansea captain Mike van der Hoorn.
“He kept us in the Premier League and he deserves a lot of credit for that,” said van der Hoorn.
“Unfortunately things did not go as well in the following season, but I think he will get a good reception from our fans.
“I think he deserves credit because we were almost dead in the Premier League before he came in. He helped turn things around and got us back to winning and believing.”
“He set us up really well. You can see the same from Reading – they are hard to break down in the defence.”
Clement has gone from one relegation battle in the Premier league to another in the Championship, with Reading currently in the relegation zone.
But they beat Millwall 3-1 a week ago and although they lost 2-1 at Birmingham in midweek, he believes his team are capable of make his return a happy one.
“I’m looking forward to going back and I know some nice people there,” said Clement.
“It’s a really important game again and we have to finish off the week well. If we do with a good result then it will have been a decent week.”
Graham Potter’s side are currently in mid-table, but van der Hoorn is hoping they can continue to climb the Championship table following Tuesday’s comeback victory over Blackburn.
“We had a tough first half the other night but some hard words were spoken at half-time and it fired us up to get the win,” he said.
“We have dropped some points at the Liberty this season and we did not want to do that again so we were pleased.
“Now we need to build on result. This weekend is an opportunity for us to get back-to-back victories and keep moving up the table, but we know we have to work hard and battle for every point.”
Swansea are unbeaten in their last nine matches against Reading in all competitions (W5 D4), since a 4-0 defeat under Roberto Martinez in September 2008.
Alan Pardew was the last Reading manager to win a league game away at Swansea, doing so in February 2001 (D2 L2 since).
Only Middlesbrough (7) have conceded fewer Championship goals than Swansea City this season (11).
Reading have won just one of their last 12 away league games in Wales (W1 D6 L5).
Eight of Swansea’s last 10 Championship goals have been scored in the 64th minute or later.