Sunderland had talks with Paul Clement, says ex Black Cats sporting director
Former Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton has revealed he tried to appoint Paul Clement as the club's manager.
Clement's Swansea City side visit Sunderland on Saturday as they battle to stay in the Premier League.
Welshman Congerton said Sunderland held talks in 2015 with Clement, who was eventually handed his first managerial role by Derby County in the same year.
"I think he's one of the best English coaches out there," Congerton said.
"I'm sure he'll go on to bigger and better things and hopefully that's with Swansea.
"I believe he's the guy that can keep Swansea in the Premier League."
Clement's first managerial appointment at Derby County ended with his dismissal after only eight months.
Congerton, now Celtic's head of recruitment, worked with Clement at Chelsea where Congerton was chief scout and the Londoner was part of the coaching team.
He said Clement had gained invaluable experience working as Carlo Ancelotti's assistant at Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.
"He'd been working with one of the best coaches in the world for a long time," Congerton told BBC Radio Wales.
"I know Paul had a desire to go on his own and he spoke with the owner at Sunderland and myself, but it wasn't to be.
"Paul stayed where he was and we went in a different direction
"He had a difficult time at Derby and I know that will make him better. Thankfully at last he's got the opportunity in the Premier League."
Swansea are a point above the Premier League relegation zone ahead of Saturday's trip to already-relegated Sunderland.
Congerton, who was Sunderland sporting director between 2014 and 2015, said he was saddened by the Black Cats' plight.
"When I arrived at Sunderland they were bottom of the league and we managed to stay up on two separate occasions," Congerton added.
"It's heartbreaking to see the club drop out. It's such a marvellous club with great fans. Hopefully now they can truly rebuild."