Commentary

Bob Bradley will have no regrets

All you ever want is a chance to play in the bigs.

Whatever happens in the rest of his career, Bob Bradley will feel good that he achieved his goal of managing in the EPL.

No, it didn't work. After only 85 days in charge, Bradley was unceremoniously fired with the Swansea City manager. He arrived with the Swans in 17th place and he departed with them in 19th place, only above Hull City thanks to their better goal difference.

Bradley's departure came a day after Swansea City lost at home to West Ham, 4-1, and he lost the support of the club's fans, who could be heard chanting, "We want Bradley out" and "You don't know what you're doing" after the Swans gave up their second goal in the 50th minute.

Does he know what he's doing? Bradley led the Chicago Fire to the 1998 MLS title in his first season as a pro head coach, the Fire's first in MLS. He coached the USA to its greatest upset of the modern era, a 2-0 win over Spain in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup. And he led tiny Stabaek to the Europa League.

But did he know what he was doing at Swansea City? The cruel answer is in the results: two wins and 29 goals conceded in 11 matches.

Bradley was coaching in the French second division when he accepted the Swansea City job. Le Havre was an ambitious but struggling Ligue 2 club he took over in the middle of the 2015-16 with the resources to get back to the top flight of French soccer.

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 close calls.

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.

9 comments about "Bob Bradley will have no regrets".
  1. Bob Ashpole, December 27, 2016 at 7:14 p.m.

    Bradley is a class act. Out of curiosity I will be watching to see what happens during the transfer window.

  2. Miguel Dedo, December 27, 2016 at 10:05 p.m.

    If there is any intelligence in professional soccer, there will be another job for Bob Bradley -- assistant to Bruce Arena with USMNT?

  3. Delroy Wallace, December 27, 2016 at 10:10 p.m.

    Bob's situation is not unlike our National Team. Poor talent!

  4. Andrew Kear, December 28, 2016 at 12:21 a.m.

    Unlike, the awful Klinsmann, Bradley had no talent to work with. They were 17th place in the premiere league, and from what I have heard worst than the most MLS teams. Klinsmann took a solid 15th ranked USMNT and made them a 31st ranked basket case. Imagine how bad Klinsmann would do in the Premiere league.

  5. Paul Estrada replied, December 28, 2016 at 6:16 p.m.

    Man, you are delusional like most of the JK hater extremists. Statistics and results trump your misguided views. JK's problem was that he tinkered too much and made bad decisions, but overall from a statistical point of view he was among the best of National team coaches. He had a vision, but frankly we lack the talent to achieve it. Our players basic skill sets and intelligence on the pitch is still far behind the elites. Don't pretend like we have that kind of talent. We don't. To make much of the US's 15th ranking is ludicrous when we were *never* a top 20 team. The FIFA rankings continue to mislead. 31st is much more accurate in my view. What JK envisioned is going to take years to come to fruition, and I am pretty sure we will be seeing the benefits of that vision in the youth ranks. This was a very good year for the youth squads with a lot of exciting players. JK did not destroy the team. Get over it already.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, December 29, 2016 at 6:37 p.m.

    You are going too far saying "never" about a Nation that has made it out the group stage several times at the finals. Surely you don't believe it was a fluke of luck each time?

  7. Andrew Kear, December 28, 2016 at 7:49 p.m.

    Klinsmann is gone for ruining the USMNT and letting the U-23 miss two consecutive Olympics. His tactics not be implemented properly had nothing to do with US talent, but were a product of a deranged mind. Arena and Bradley will always be remember as better national team coaches. To be fired in the final stages of WC qualifying just shows how bad things got under Klinsmann.

  8. Frank Cardone, December 28, 2016 at 10:30 p.m.

    JK deserved to be fired. I'm only sorry that Sunil waited as ling as he did. A sad chapter in US National Team and US Olympic Team soccer has finally come to an end.

  9. Daniel Clifton, December 29, 2016 at 3:45 p.m.

    Bob Bradley will be hired somewhere. He is too good of a coach and there are plenty of management people around the world who can recognize a good coach.

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