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Americans Abroad

Swansea City Axes Bob Bradley After Just 85 Days

Time's up, pencils down. The former U.S. men's national team coach was fired today after a short, turbulent, and largely unsuccessful run with 19th-place English Premier League side Swansea City.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 27, 2016
8:30 AM

BOB BRADLEY was the first American coach in the history of the English Premier League... and today he became the first American to be fired by a top-flight British club. Swansea City announced it had parted ways with the New Jersey native after only 85 days in charge.

The former U.S. men's national team coach inherited a very bad team that continued to play poorly under his tenure. His lone goal was to keep Swansea in the Premier League but after two wins, two draws, and six losses, staying in the top flight looked very difficult no matter what happened in the transfer window. The Welsh club now sits in 19th place and is four points from safety. Here are a few thoughts on his dismissal.

The nature of the business at the top

The decision to fire Bradley was harsh but not surprising. It is tough to call it unfair when so many decisions in the Premier League are unfair to so many coaches. The stakes are absolutely enormous in a relegation fight in the Premier League because just as it is richest league in the world, the Championship is among the biggest money losers in worldwide football as owners spend money at a loss to chase the dream of promotion.

Getting relegated out of the Premier League is an enormous penalty and Swansea is flat-out desperate. Its ownership does not have the luxury of having a coach who needs to get used to a situation or who wants to build a program with a long-term vision. They need the team to win immediately.

That is why so many English retread coaches regularly get jobs. They know the league well enough for a short-term boost. There is little-to-no concern about a long-term approach. That is why a disgraced Sam Allardyce can still get a job in the Premier League. 

Bradley knew this going in. He had to take a job like this when offered. He knew his team wasn’t good and that it was an uphill climb.

While it is all speculation, there is a good chance that this situation might never have been winnable for anyone. Yes, there are some managers who know how to take bad teams and get them to play just well enough to avoid being in the bottom three in the league but whether or not this group of Swansea players was capable, we will never know. The next manager, of course, will likely bring in a slew of new players in January.

Unfortunately we’re likely never going to see how he would have done with a preseason or a transfer window to put his own stamp on the team. But again, this league is cutthroat to everyone with everything that is at stake.

The defense cost him

People are going to want to know where it went wrong for Bradley. It's simple—the team’s defense stunk. In his 11 games in charge, Swansea conceded three or more goals eight times.

Despite having a reputation as a defensive coach when managing the U.S. national team, Bradley actually wanted to attack a lot.

This begs the question as to whether or not Bradley would have been better with a boring, defensive approach that continues to get Allardyce jobs. Could Bradley have bunkered his way to a few more results before the transfer window and then opened it up a bit more after adding more defenders?

Bradley’s career is at a crossroads

Bradley, the first prominent American-born/raised coach abroad, has taken unusual jobs in Egypt, with Stabaek, and Le Havre. He wanted one shot at the big time and he got it—albeit in a tough spot.

So now what?

He should have options. At 58, his reputations is probably strong enough to earn another job in Europe outside of one of the five top-flight leagues. Does Bradley decide to remain in Europe? If so, how long will he wait for another job?

If not, he will be at the top of any MLS team that is willing to spend money on a quality coach. Does he lobby for the Los Angeles FC job? The flashy ownership there would probably love to bring him on. But if not them, Bradley would easily find an MLS job in 2017 if he wanted one.

But that is fairly obvious for a guy like Bradley who has had an unpredictable career. Does he take a job in central or South America? Does he take a front-office job within U.S. Soccer or even MLS? Or does he try the technical director route with an MLS team?

One published report lists Bradley as a strong candidate to run Norway's national team. Is there anything to it? Hard to say, but it wouldn't be entirely surprising.

Even his detractors would have to admit that Bradley’s career has been interesting and unusual. After this setback, the next chapter should be filled with more of the same.

What do you think of the Bradley dismissal? And where would you like to see him go next? Share your take in the Comments section below. 

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