An American manager has finally broken through in the English Premier League.
After years of speculation, rumors, and a ton of pontificating here in the United States that name and team were finally revealed this week: Bob Bradley and Swansea City.
The former United States Men’s National Team manager became the first head manager of a Premier League side by taking on the Swans job.
The move itself has brought out a lot of interest, controversy, and some questions as well.
At the heart of all of the speculation and hubub seems to be the concern over the direction that Swansea City are taking and whether Bradley has the credentials necessary to make the jump to the Premier League.
Both are very fair topics to look into. Anytime a foreign manager or foreign ownership comes into a new league there is this perception of a square peg in a round hole stereotype that is placed upon them.
It doesn’t matter if it is the Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1, or Major League Soccer this is a situation that occurs in every league across the world.
First, let’s get this out of the way: Bob Bradley has the experience to coach in English football. This is not some coach who just started two or three years ago who is just getting his feet wet in non-American football.
His experience in Major League Soccer and with the United States Men’s National Team aside. Bradley has spent the better part of the last five years coaching in Europe with Staebek and Le Havre.
When one looks at the results that he had with both sides they are certainly admirable
Considering that he came in halfway through the season with Le Havre and came within a goal of qualifying for Ligue 1 and that he took Staebek to the Europa League those are good check marks in his experience box.
If being able to get results under difficult circumstances is a measure of coaching in the English football then Bradley’s experience with the Egyptian National Team certainly qualifies him.
Bear in mind when Bradley took the job at Egypt the country was undergoing incredible turmoil and civil war.
The Egyptian Premier League had been disbanded and the team had to play World Cup Qualification matches at Port Said Stadium a site which saw the deaths of 79 people.
That Egypt made it to the final round of qualification in 2014 and lost out to Ghana, by no means a minnow, is a sign of Bradley’s ability to coach under pressure.
One has to wonder if Steve Bruce or Ryan Giggs could get the same result or would have considered the chance to begin with.
Now that being said: Is Bradley a good fit for Swansea City? It is difficult to see how this works out long-term.
Bradley’s most successful tenures at manager were in situations where he was given the keys to the kingdom and he had the time to bring in his players.
Bradley is very much an American manager, someone who knows how to grind out results and requires his players to be in top physical condition.
Those attributes should suit him well in Swansea’s likely relegation fight.
But what made him such a successful manager in Major League Soccer and with the United States might not translate to the Premier League.
It is very much the same thing as American players find when coming to the Premier League where success outside of England is meaningless.
Most players will likely only have a faint recognition of Bradley or none at all. He has never really coached players who are making 10-12 million pounds a year, players that might not be receptive to his choice of words or style.
Gaining the respect of his players will be a challenge.
Much of Bradley’s success will depend upon Levien and Swansea City management. Swansea City supporters will undoubtedly look at the situation of Levien’s American football club, D.C. United, with some alarm.
Although United currently stand fourth in the Eastern Conference and have a chance at hosting a playoff game it has been done almost in spite of management’s stingy pocketbook.
According to the MLS Player’s Union United’s total compensation towards players in 2016 is $5.2 million dollars, third lowest in Major League Soccer. It should be noted that MLS does not release player salaries.
United’s relationship with their supporters has also waned in recent years. The club came under immense criticism earlier in the season for banning a supporter for the season after their alleged use of a smoke bomb before a home match.
That, coupled with changes to their season-ticket agreements and social media policies, has further strained the relationship between United and their supporters.
That should worry Swans supporters who are already apprehensive about the changes that the team is making.
If Swansea City were in say the English Football League or in League One the situation might be different, but Bradley is stepping into a very difficult situation where the end result is very much unknown.
While it is great that an American manager has stepped up into one of the top leagues in Europe it will be interesting to see if Swansea City’s American owners give him the chance to succeed.