An off-kilter Swansea, with a makeshift back four, were miserable on Saturday, losing 2-0 to Bournemouth and squandering a second consecutive chance to claw further up the table toward safety.
The only positives here are philosophical. Swansea should have learned from this game that they still need a Plan B when Plan A -- Fernando Llorente -- doesn't work; the Spaniard didn't take a single shot. From a recruitment standpoint, this game also brought into focus the importance of building a squad around a system. Swansea have too many disparate players and not enough like-for-like cover.
With Leroy Fer out of position at right back, Ki Sung-Yueng filled in at midfield but the Korean is a totally different player. Similarly, Jordan Ayew is not Wayne Routledge, who in turn is not Luciano Narsingh. Swansea were forced into changes for this game through injury and the sudden difference between individual players' skill sets destroyed the established chemistry.
Aside from a 20-minute spell in the first half where Swansea bossed possession but did little with it, this was an afternoon to forget. No individual player shone, and the team ended with a single shot on target and a collective 79 percent pass completion -- poor by Swansea's standards. The changes in personnel are partly responsible, but with so much on the line that isn't a good-enough excuse.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Paul Clement's decision to play Fer at right-back was strange. The midfielder is not known for his concentration or defensive responsibility. Why not Jordi Amat, who played the position last week from the bench? Or even Routledge, who is at least a wide player? Similarly, this was not the right time for Ayew. The Ghanaian is a utility forward and therefore has no clear role in this system yet. He might need to wait until next season to find his place.
On Saturday, Swansea -- and Llorente -- needed a provider on the wing, not a dribbler. Clement's substitutions were also uninspired. Routledge is not the impact player a trailing team needs, and the manager ought to have been far bolder from the bench, perhaps playing Borja Baston in a 4-4-2 with Llorente, but at no point did he switch to a two-striker system despite the deficit.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Lukasz Fabianksi, 7 -- No chance on the first but made a fantastic save to stop a sure-fire third.
DF Leroy Fer, 6 -- Acquitted himself well in an unfamiliar position, and neither of Bournemouth's goals came from his flank.
DF Federico Fernandez, 5 -- Overcommitted on Bournemouth's first and has now been responsible for three goals against in two games.
DF Alfie Mawson, 6 -- Not helped by his partner's gung-ho attitude, could do nothing about his own goal.
DF Stephen Kingsley, 5 -- Showed obvious signs of rust and nervousness having not played at this level in far too long.
MF Ki Sung-Yeung, 5 -- Barely made any real impression on the game. Unable to replicate Fer's industry and drive.
MF Jack Cork, 6 -- Made six interceptions and was perhaps Swansea's only solid performer.
MF Tom Carroll, 5 -- Pairing with Kingsley, could not recreate the chemistry he shares with Martin Olsson and was less effective as a result.
FW Jordan Ayew, 5 -- Offered no real attacking threat. It is still unclear how his skills will fit this system, or even what those skills are, beyond the occasional dribble.
FW Fernando Llorente, 6 -- No service, no shots. Still made more tackles (two) than any of the midfielders and provided a key pass.
FW Gylfi Sigurdsson, 6 -- Dead-ball delivery was sub-par for once, and his usual effort was lacking though he did get four shots away. Is starting to suffer from accumulated fatigue, which is a cause for concern.
FW Luciano Narsingh, 5 -- Introduced after Bournemouth had taken the lead, so faced an uphill struggle against a defensive opponent. Had he started, he might have had more space to create.
FW Wayne Routledge, 5 -- Made only eight passes and still gave half of them away, finishing with 50 percent completion. Hard to understand what Clement was expecting him to do to turn the game around.
FW Borja Baston, NR -- Again given no chance to do anything, being introduced with 10 minutes left to play and two goals down. Should have come on far earlier and partnered Llorente in a 4-4-2. Swansea needed goals, and Clement should have shown more faith in the timorous striker.