It is a well-worn trope that teams with little to play for at the end of the season are ‘on the beach’, coasting through their last few games with their thoughts already turning to upcoming holidays.
Having secured their Premier League survival with a match to spare, Swansea City appear to have embraced that notion in quite a literal sense this week.
Their reprieve from relegation was confirmed when Hull were thrashed by Crystal Palace on Sunday and, after toasting the occasion at home, the Swans’ players decided to take their celebrations further afield by spontaneously booking a two-night trip to Ibiza.
Head coach Paul Clement then received a text message from an unnamed player, who said he was acting on behalf of the squad when he asked for permission to visit the Balearic island famous for its nightlife.
Clement was happy to oblige but, with their final Premier League game at home to West Brom on Sunday, there were certain conditions.
“They would have tried to have come back on Saturday if they could, but I told them to be back on Wednesday,” says Clement.
“I think they had a good time, almost the whole squad went. They were alright. They’ve already had one session and we have got three more.”
Was the 45-year-old former Bayern Munich assistant manager tempted to join them?
“No, not at all,” he laughs.
“Well, I couldn’t keep up with those young guys at all.
“I just said they had to be back on time, 1.30 on Wednesday and they were coming in the door right on 1.30.”
Clement believes the fact the vast majority of the Swansea squad chose to go on the trip to Ibiza was evidence of their team spirit, one of the “standout features” of their escape from relegation.
When Clement succeeded Bob Bradley in January, the Swans were bottom of the Premier League table with just 12 points from 19 games.
But since appointing Carlo Ancelotti’s former assistant at Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain, Swansea have turned their season around with 26 points from their subsequent 18 fixtures.
‘Struggling? Hire a Clement’
It is a remarkable transformation, and not the first time a member of the Clement family has helped a team retain their top-flight status in dramatic fashion.
Clement’s brother Neil was a part of the West Brom side who survived at the end of the 2004-05 season despite being bottom of the table at Christmas and at the start of the final day of the campaign.
“The big difference is they were bottom on the last day of the season. They had to close the gap, but got that result and stayed up,” the Swans boss says.
“There were parallels. Someone asked me the other day that if there is ever a team bottom of the Premier League at Christmas then you need to hire a Clement.
“Either coach or player, then you have got half a chance.”
As proud as Clement is of Swansea’s survival, he is equally eager they avoid such a stressful battle to avoid the drop next season.
If they continue to languish in the lower reaches of the Premier League table, Clement is concerned they may eventually drop back down to the Championship.
“Exactly, Sunderland flirted with it too many years and paid the price,” he says.
“We have to be much stronger, to do that we need a good pre-season to evaluate the squad, where we need to strengthen.
“I don’t think we necessarily need as much as we did in January. We want key players who can come in and make a difference. Like the players we had.
“We need to start strongly and get as many points as possible in the first half of the season, like West Brom have done this season.
“If you can then finish like we have done, we will find ourselves in a strong position.”