Swansea City are seeking a fourth permanent managerial appointment in less than three years – and this is one they simply have to get right to have a future in the Premier League.
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Four points from safety with one match remaining in the first half of the season, the Welsh club were a best-priced 8/13 to be relegated (William Hill
) at the time of writing and 13/8 (Sky Bet
) to stay up – which means the bookmakers think they are heading for the Championship.
Since being promoted to the top division in 2011, the Swans’ plight has never been so perilous at this stage of the season. Their finishing positions have read, chronologically, 11th, 9th, 12th, 8th and 12th, so they have been the archetypal mid-table club until now.
But since Garry Monk was sacked just over a year ago, Swansea have appeared to be on shakier ground because neither Francesco Guidolin nor Bob Bradley appealed as the right choice to continue the good work that has also been done by the likes of Michael Laudrup and Brendan Rodgers previously.
Neither man had prior experience of UK football and there were language problems too – Guidolin because he was much more fluent in his native Italian than English, while Bradley brought Americanisms to his press conferences and, presumably, his team talks.
What Swansea need now, in their current predicament, is not to try and be too clever and go for another leftfield appointment. They require a safe pair of hands, someone well versed in the Premier League and who will keep the survival fight simple – step forward Chris Coleman.
Chris Coleman laughs during a Wales training session (Getty Images)
Extricating the man commonly known as ‘Cookie’ from his contract with the Wales international team will not be easy, especially as the national FA blocked Hull City’s approach for him in the summer, while he has also said he plans to stay in his current job for as long as the Dragons are involved in the 2018 World Cup.
Another stumbling block is that Coleman has expressed grave doubts about returning to a club where he is a hero, in the role of manager, in case it turns sour – with his family still living in his home city. He has expressed a preference for working abroad again in the future.
However, from a football perspective it looks an ideal fit, even if Neil Taylor is the only member of the Wales team that Coleman took to the European Championship semi-finals currently in the Swansea squad.
Coleman, 46, has previously steered Fulham away from relegation danger immediately after taking over and spent another four years with the Cottagers, so has far greater Premier League experience than Guidolin and Bradley.
His achievements with Wales at the Euros raised his stock as a manager to new levels and he certainly appeals as a better option than Ryan Giggs (completely untried), Paul Clement (failed at Derby) and Harry Redknapp (was taking QPR down in his last job when he resigned).
Ultimately, it may be out of Swansea’s hands even if they decide Coleman is the man they want. But if they do decide to pursue him, they may have finally made the right choice just when they need it most.