Paul Clement has urged Swansea City supporters to abandon any thoughts of pre-match protests and pleaded with them to unite behind the team against Bournemouth on Saturday amid concerns the players could have to deal with a “potentially difficult atmosphere”.
Swansea have lost six of their last seven Premier League games, fuelling unrest among fans who turned on the board and some of the players during the previous home game, a 1-0 defeat against Brighton. Clement acknowledged supporters “have every right to show their frustration” with poor performances but he has asked them to back the team and wait until the final whistle to voice any criticism.
“That would be a hope of mine, that they would do that,” Swansea’s manager said. “What would be difficult is that after 10 minutes, if there’s a misplaced pass, and they’re on to it, that would be hard for the players.
“So hopefully the fans can keep their frustrations until maybe later if they’ve seen a performance that they’re not happy with. They have every right to show their frustration but I also hope they want to help the team. Hopefully, we will start well.”
With Clement under pressure, the players underperforming, fans still angry with the takeover last year and the supporters’ trust looking for a third chairman in the space of a fortnight, there is disharmony at all levels at Swansea. In many respects it feels like a repeat of this time last season, when the mood was mutinous and Swansea appeared doomed.
“I spoke to Leon [Britton, the player-coach] about [last season] and he described it as being 10 times worse but I think he meant performances because the goals were falling in,” Clement said. “There were three to four goals going in and I think that was a particularly difficult time. We aren’t quite at that level yet where we’re getting absolutely hammered but at the same time we know we’re not playing well.
“We have to stick at it. It’s easier to do it if you stick together because you know that everyone’s got each other’s backs. I heard there’s talk of protests and I just don’t think it’s the right time for it. I think it’s a time to pull together. I’m sure that everyone wants the same thing here. I know me and the players do, and the owner does and the chairman does, but we want to start playing better and get some good results. I believe the fans want that as well, and the best chance we’ve got is to all come together and work in the same direction.”
It is a measure of how concerned Clement is about the atmosphere that he admitted it could come into his thinking when he picks his team. “We’ve had these discussions the last couple of days. We are not sure what sort of atmosphere will develop in the game. Hopefully we will start well and we can move forward with good momentum but it could potentially be a difficult atmosphere. Who are the personalities and characters? Who has got the experience to be able to deal with that sort of pressure? So it is a consideration.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010