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Michael Duff: Swansea City sack head coach after less than six months in charge

Some sections of Swansea fans had been unhappy with Michael Duff’s style of play as well as poor results

Swansea City have sacked head coach Michael Duff after less than six months in charge of the Championship club.

Duff departs after a run of one win in eight matches and with Swansea sitting 18th in the table.

The 45-year-old had endured a difficult spell as Swansea boss, with the club struggling to find consistency this season.

Martin Paterson has also left, with his fellow assistant head coach Alan Sheehan becoming caretaker boss.

Sheehan will start his temporary tenure on Saturday, as Swansea go in search of a first win in five league games at second-bottom Rotherham United.

Duff’s brief reign began with a seven-game winless streak in the league – including a miserable derby defeat at Cardiff City – before a run of four straight wins lifted his side into the top half of the table.

But they have since taken six points from a possible 24, a worrying run which has cost Duff his job.

The former Cheltenham Town and Barnsley boss was booed by sections of Swansea’s support after last Saturday’s draw with Huddersfield.

Swansea City said “the process to appoint a new head coach is already under way”.

Duff left League One Barnsley to take over at Swansea in June following former boss Russell Martin’s move to Southampton, signing a deal with the Swans until 2026.

The Welsh club made a host of changes behind the scenes and there was a major overhaul of the playing squad, with chairman Andy Coleman – who took up his role in May – suggesting Duff’s side should be capable of challenging for promotion.

However, Swansea are only five points clear above the relegation zone having won just five of their 19 league games this season.

Swansea’s style of play under Duff has been criticised, with the club moving away from the possession game which has been key to their successes in recent memory.

The former Cheltenham boss has also had an uneasy relationship with Swansea’s fans.

‘A learning experience’

Club chairman Coleman said: “This was a very difficult decision and one that was given considerable thought and attention.

“I acknowledge that there has been a significant amount of change at the club, both on and off the pitch, during Michael’s tenure. I consistently asked for patience as we gave him time to implement his plans and bring the squad together.

“Unfortunately, we have seen neither the results that we expect nor the progress from the squad that we need. I believe it is now in the best interests of Swansea City to make a change of head coach.

“I have the greatest respect for Michael as a person and as a leader. I know how hard he and his staff have worked throughout this season for Swansea City.

“I want to personally thank Michael, Martin, and their families for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of this club and this city.

“I know that Michael will be successful in his next opportunity and on behalf of the board and the entire club, I wish him and Martin only the best in their future endeavours.

“I will learn from the experience of these last several months. My appreciation for how critical the Swansea identity is to this club has grown since the summer and it will be high in my mind as I make the decision on our new head coach.”

Swansea's lacklustre south Wales derby defeat to Cardiff in September was also a cross against Michael Duff's tenure as boss
Swansea’s lacklustre south Wales derby defeat to Cardiff in September was also a cross against Michael Duff’s tenure as boss

Correspondent comment by Rob Phillips

So Swansea City’s hierarchy have acted to atone for their very own mistake.

Almost from day one, Michael Duff appeared to be the wrong manager for the club.

The often mentioned ‘Swansea Way’ is not just a catchy phrase. There have been variations on the theme over the years since the days of Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers.

But there is now something in the DNA at Swansea City where style matters, and Duff never appeared to be the correct fit.

His words before the south Wales derby, coupled with the abject performance against Cardiff City in the 2-0 defeat at the Cardiff City Stadium in September, did him no favours. After the derby dominance in the Russell Martin era, that was always going to be a huge reverse to counter even for one so experienced as Duff.

A four-game winning run late in September and running into October appeared to suggest Duff could turn the tide.

But even through that time, he struggled to give the side any identity. It was as if he was trying to impose a more direct style on the team – with players who just did not suit that system.

He was also less than inspiring in the media – a facet not as important as results, but a key element these days.

Chairman Andy Coleman seems to have admitted the style factor was as much to blame as one win in the last eight league games.

You would have thought the Swans football management would have realised that in the summer.

Make no mistake, the Swans were heading for the crunch. Had Duff stayed, he would have rightly expected backing in the January transfer window.

But they have decided to act now – and look for someone who, in the words of Coleman, can help “reconnect the leadership of Swansea City Football Club with its supporters”.

No team is ever too good to go down. And the Swans have some decent players, who together should not be part of a side heading in the wrong direction near the foot of the table.

The Swans must act quickly – especially with games at Rotherham and Stoke in the next week. They would do well to seek the advice of those within the club or in the area who are familiar with the ‘Swansea Way’.

Judging by the jeers received from the fans at the final whistle last Saturday and the tone of the fans who spoke on my Radio Wales phone-in following the 1-1 home draw with Huddersfield, this decision will be generally welcomed by the Jack Army.

Club bosses have seen their error and – with this dismissal – have admitted they were wrong and will have paid for it given Duff’s contract ran to 2026.

But in listening to the fans who were clearly at odds with Duff’s style, acting this swiftly could prove invaluable and perhaps rescue the season.

It is difficult not to feel sympathy with Duff. At another club, his management ethos and method might work. But in so many ways, Swansea are different.

Now Swans fans will have their fingers crossed the hierarchy get the next appointment right.

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