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Makelele amazed by Swansea's Premier League survival 'miracle'

3:03 am AEST 12/8/17
Fernando Llorente Swansea City Premier League
The Swans’ assistant manager has spoken about how difficult it was to keep the South Wales club away from the drop last season


Claude Makelele has hailed the work done by Paul Clement to keep the Welsh side in the Premier League last season, praising his colleague's intelligence and motivational skills.

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When Clement replaced Bob Bradley to become the Swans' third manager of the season last term, he brought Makelele with him as his assistant and the pair were faced with a daunting task. The club were languishing in the relegation zone when the new management team were installed in January, but they finished the season in 15th place

As Swansea prepare to embark on another campaign in England's top flight against Southampton on Saturday, Makelele has reflected on the incredible the turnaround in fortunes that they achieved.

“It was miraculous,” the former Chelsea star told Goal. "I think it is a miracle, but Paul Clement is very intelligent, [he is] a very intelligent manager.

“He knows the job, he knows the way to make the players give more energy. Everything that happens, Paul understands. What happens about the results, about management, about the players. He changed a lot of things.

“He made the players competitive together. He explained to them also that everything is possible in football. Lots of players don't believe this but I know, having played football, that everything is possible.

“It changed how it was working at the training ground. He explained to them the movements, told them to play together and fighting until the last minute in the last game and the result would come.

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“Sometimes it is difficult when you are in this position [in the table], you are not comfortable, you lose your confidence, you lose the way you play. All the time you are thinking negative.

“It is a big job to change the mind of the player but I think he had a good result. In every training session, you get some results, a positive result. He will keep going and working with this positive thinking to make the results for the club to stay in the Premier League.

“I think you need to understand the players, you also need to tell them the truth, it is very important that you never lie with them. Tell the truth, sometimes you are strong, sometimes you are cool. You need to be both. These are human people.

“You need to be sincere with them to tell them one is negative, one is positive. After, he will give you everything. Maybe sometimes the players don’t have much quality, but he gives energy. The energy helps the partner to have double the energy. I think it is the way the staff work.

“Paul pushes all his staff to work in this way. In this situation, I think it is the best way to make positive things work quickly and in football, you need the results quickly. I’m happy that this team stayed in the Premier League."

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Makelele was a wonderful footballer in his prime and most notably was involved in Jose Mourinho’s dominant Chelsea side as well as being integral to a brilliant Real Madrid team.

Since he retired Makelele became the head coach of Bastia, worked as a technical director at Monaco and he is now back in the Premier League. Makelele admits he is happy to be living in the United Kingdom and that he even enjoys the oft-ridiculed cuisine from time to time.

“It is like a family team. In Swansea, I love the way the people treat me in a good way. I have not come as Makelele. I have come like a normal person,” he continued. “I have learned also, the job is with all the staff is positive for my future.

“[Fish and chips?] I know them from before. I have lived in this country before. I knew before I came to Swansea. I love the mentality and I love the Premier League, for me it is one of the best competitions in the world.”