Leon Britton will take charge of Swansea City for their huge clash with relegation rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com) after Paul Clement was fired on Wednesday.
Britton, 35, has been working on the coaching staff for the post few months at Swansea and the midfielder has been with the club for 15 years as a professional and has risen with them through the leagues. He is a fans favorite and will earn the respect of his players immediately.
Although he admitted now is not the right time for him to be given the role on a permanent basis, Britton believes he can help lift the Swansea squad and his fellow teammates in the next few weeks.
“That’s one of the reasons I agreed to take this role – because I believe I can have an effect on the team in the immediate future,” Britton said. “I am sure the fans will be behind the team on Saturday and hopefully I can help lift the players. We have to make sure we’re in the right frame of mind and hopefully that will lead to a result.”
With Swansea sitting bottom of the Premier League table with just 12 points and three wins from their first 18 games of the season, Britton and whoever comes in on a permanent basis have a huge job on their hands.
On a lighter note, let’s focus on Britton’s team talk ahead of the Palace game: “Leon. Captain. Leon. Penalty kick taker. Set pieces. Leon…” That would be amusing if it happened, but Britton confirmed he’s struggling with a calf injury and unavailable.
Joking aside, if Britton does well then it isn’t inconceivable he will be given the job on a permanent basis. Look at the Bundesliga and how well young coaches have done in tough circumstances in recent years, plus Swansea did think outside the box in the past when it came to managerial appointments as young coaches like Roberto Martinez and Garry Monk were given chances.
Since they were promoted to the PL in 2011, the Swans have been proponents of attacking, entertaining soccer with the “Swansea Way” leading them to the top 10 under Michael Laudrup, a League Cup trophy and European action.
However, the Swansea Way has become somewhat muddled in recent seasons with the South Wales side now going through three managers in the past 12 months in Francesco Guidolin, Bob Bradley and Clement. In each of the last two campaign they’ve survived relegation with a late season surge and it will be another struggle this season.
Without Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente, who were both sold in the summer, it is tough to see where Swansea’s goals will come from. They are the lowest scorers in the PL with just 10 goals this season and with Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Bony struggling for form, Tammy Abraham has done his best in his first season in the PL but it seems like that won’t be enough.
If Swansea lose to Crystal Palace at home this weekend, they could be as much as seven points from safety. They’ve been in worse situations than this and survived but the situation is getting pretty desperate.