Would Bradley's destiny have been different if Le Havre had gone up in May? On the final day of
the Ligue 2, Le Havre needed to get a combination of results and make up eight goals. Le Havre got its results and made up six of the eight goals, winning, 5-0, in a game during which it had numerous
But when Swansea City came calling, Bradley jumped at the opportunity.
“In a perfect world," he said after coaching Le Havre one last time the day he took the Swansea City job, "I would finish this season, go right to the end with this team just like last year. But in football, you don’t control timing. In this moment, the opportunity to go to the Premiership -- on many levels -- is special. I’m sorry to leave, especially at this moment, but it’s still an opportunity for me, for my family and for American football. That’s important.”
Yes, the timing was lousy, on both sides.
The Swans changed owners over the summer as Americans Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan purchased the majority shares. Many fans don't like the manner in which the purchase took place, and they certainly hated the direction the Swans, playing in their sixth consecutive season in the EPL, were headed.
In August, Welsh captain Ashley Williams was sold to Everton, depriving the Swans of their steadying hand in the middle of the backline. Andre Ayew, Swansea City's top scorer in all competitions, moved to West Ham United. No adequate replacements were brought in.
Swansea City won its opening game of the season, 1-0, at Burnley, but that was the only victory in seven games before Italian manager Francesco Guidolin was fired. Under Guidolin, Swansea City was losing, but the games were close.
Guidolin's last 5 EPL games:
1-2 at Leicester City
2-2 vs. Chelsea
0-1 at Southampton
1-3 vs. Manchester City
1-2 vs. Liverpool
Bradley was the fourth manager Swansea City had in less than nine months. His first game in charge was promising enough, a 3-2 loss at Arsenal. But it took six games before Bradley won his first game, a wild 5-4 victory against Crystal Palace. The Swans rallied for two goals in stoppage time after they blew a 3-1 lead. But the Palace match exposed Swansea City's serious defensive deficiencies that were Bradley's undoing.
Swansea City wasn't the worst team in the EPL during Bradley's tenure. Both Crystal Palace and Hull City lost more games than Swansea City did, but the Swans were getting blown out.
Bradley's last 5 EPL games:
0-5 at Tottenham
3-0 vs. Sunderland
1-3 at West Bromwich
0-3 at Middlesbrough
1-4 vs. West Ham United
"I knew exactly what I was getting into when I came to Swansea and realized the hardest part was always going to be getting points in the short run," Bradley told NBC's Pro Soccer Talk. "But I believe in myself and I believe in going for it. That's what I've always told my players."
Yes, to get to the bigs, you have to believe in yourself and go for it. Even when the timing is lousy.