Paul Clement has insisted Swansea City can stay up – and revealed he would be keen to add John Terry to his Premier League squad for next season.
The Swans head coach admits time is running out for his team, who are two points adrift of safety with just five games remaining.
Those statistics – allied to the fact momentum has stalled for the club with just one point taken from six matches – mean Clement has reiterated that Saturday’s game at home to Stoke City is a “must win” encounter.
But the club will be without both Jack Cork and Wayne Routledge this weekend. Cork still has an ankle injury, whilst Routledge has a hernia problem that will sideline him for a minimum of two weeks.
The former Bayern Munich assistant manager says his strugglers are likely to need three wins and a draw from their remaining fixtures and that if they do preserve their Premier League status he would be keen to sign 36-year-old Terry, who is leaving Chelsea at the end of the season.
“The fact that Hull are home to Watford, a game I believe they will win, means we have to win,” said Clement.
“I hope the players respond – they have not responded well over the last six games when pressure has been there, but we now have to perform to alleviate it.
“As we stand it is out of our hands. If us and Hull win all our remaining games there is nothing we can do, but either of us can win or lose at any point. It is unlikely we will both win every game, but we are going to need three wins and maybe another point and hope they falter.”
Clement is at a loss to offer a simple explanation for the dramatic reversal in form that has followed his initial impact when he delivered four victories in six games.
Defeat at Watford last week has left the club in a precarious position, but he says a lack of appetite, workrate or desire is not responsible.
“It is difficult to nail down the reasons, if it was an easy problem to resolve we would have resolved it weeks ago.
“It is more complex than that, we have to drill down into all the different reasons. Some are tactical, some are physical, some are mental and we have to focus on doing better and focus on things we did well.
“It is new for a lot of players, but you have to get on with the task at hand, perform well, deal with the pressure, be leaders, help each other and have that belief. If you don’t have that, it is done.
“There has been criticism of effort and passion. But I don’t believe the players are not trying or don’t understand what it means and their wider responsibilities. The belief is still there and with five games to go there are going to be lot of twists and turns. There are 15 points and I believe it will go to very end.”
All well as a collective defence, Clement has also brushed off the barbs from TV pundits aimed at Spanish striker Fernando Llorente for his personal stats at Watford.
Llorente was said to have sprinted less than 20 metres in the entire game, but Clement says those figures are not relevant, given the type of player the former Juventus target man is and the role he plays in the side.
“At Liverpool he sprinted zero metres. But he scored two goals and we won the game at Anfield, 3-2.
“You cannot look at a player in isloation. His highest sprint stats under me is 65 metres. If I wanted to pick someone to run in behind the defence, it would not be Fernando.”
On another thirtysomething, Terry, Clement added that he would be keen to recruit the former England defender he worked with at Chelsea, but any approach would have to be made once the Swans have preserved their Premier League status.
“That is not something I have thought about at this point. We have to focus on players and games we have got and when season finishes we can talk about potential targets.
“I would like to say, having worked with him, what a fantastic player he is and what a career he has had. He’s a great talent and one of a dying breed of leaders.
“He has represented that club so well, players are too quick to move on from club to club nowadays, but congratulations to him.
“If we stay up, why wouldn’t we be interested? I know him well and would be more than happy to speak to him.”