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Guidolin loving new challenge with Swansea

By Tim Rich

Published 25/01/2016

Victory roar: Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin hails his side’s first ever triumph at Goodison Park, with assistant Alan Curtis
Victory roar: Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin hails his side’s first ever triumph at Goodison Park, with assistant Alan Curtis

Ever since they appointed the 33-year-old Roberto Martinez, Swansea's choice of manager has been impeccable. This time, however, you were not so sure.

Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins had abandoned Garry Monk the first time he had run into difficulties as either a player or a manager. The choice of Francesco Guidolin put Swansea's survival in the hands of a man who had never played or managed in Britain. By turns, their reasoning seemed cruel and reckless.

Given that his opening match ended with Swansea's first victory at Goodison Park in their history, this might just be another inspired choice.

When the final whistle sounded yesterday, seconds after Seamus Coleman had volleyed into the Gwladys Street End from a couple of yards out, Guidolin and his entire back-room staff hugged each other.

Those who had journeyed from south Wales began a chorus of "We are staying up", although even in their darkest moments this season they seemed too well organised to be real relegation candidates.

Guidolin, who had not coached since a highly successful spell at Udinese two years ago, admitted to nerves before the match. Having watched last Monday night's 1-0 win over Watford from the stands, he spent much of this match crouched on his haunches on the touchline.

"It is strange for me and all very new," he said. "My son lives in London and I visit him but this job in Wales is something new. We played well for 60 minutes but at the end we suffered.

"Six points in two matches is a good way to start and the first impressions I have had of Swansea has been the kindness of people there and the family atmosphere of the club. It is a little bit more relaxed in Wales."

The pressures on Martinez appear to be mounting. Everton have not won in the league at Goodison since November and Martinez admitted his team were developing a psychological problem about playing at home.

"We have not found the right way of playing at home," said Martinez. "We need to free ourselves at Goodison."

Here, he lost Muhamed Besic and Kevin Mirallas to injuries that will keep them out of Wednesday's League Cup semi-final at Manchester City.

There would be other images to take away, not least Ashley Williams' handball in the build-up to Swansea's winner, when André Ayew drove the ball home via the tip of John Stones' boot.

Stones had a sketchy game and his loose back pass led to Swansea's opener. Tim Howard raced to clear but his kick struck Ayew's boot to concede the penalty. Gylfi Sigurdsson's spot-kick was unstoppable.

The Toffees equalised when Gareth Barry met a corner from Gerard Deulofeu with a back flick that was clipped in via Jack Cork's boot and the post.

Everton dominated after but couldn't find an equaliser.

Belfast Telegraph

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