Bob Bradley firing: The view from Britain

Bob Bradley's tenure at Swansea City lasted all of 85 days. After the 58-year-old American manager was fired on Tuesday, much of the British media insisted that Bradley was in over his head. But in Wales, where the circumstances of Bradley's hiring made him unpopular, the view is that Swansea City's continuing problems put Bradley in an impossible situation.

The backdrop to Bradley's arrival and departure was the deteriorating situation at Swansea City, a classic mid-table club -- no higher than 9th and no lower than 12th in its five seasons in the EPL. The Swans had three managers last season -- and will have three managers again this season.

As the Daily Express's Alex Bywater noted, "So long a picture of stability under Jenkins, Swansea’s takeover in the summer by American businessmen Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan was the start of a nightmare second half of 2016."

By October, the Swans were floundering under Italian manager Francesco Guidolin. The Daily Telegraph's John Percy wrote Bradley won over Swansea City's new owners: "He is understood to have impressed in his interview with his plans for the future and secured the post ahead of intense competition after Guidolin’s dismissal."

But the view of much of the British media was different: "Bradley’s brief reign is likely to see him viewed as one of the worst appointments in recent top-flight history." (Percy) "By the time he finally achieved his ambition of managing in England's top flight in October, he arrived as a man completely out of his depth and doomed to failure in the unforgiving world of Premier League football."  (ESPN FC's Mark Ogden)

Still, Chris Wathan, who covers Swansea City for Wales Media, wrote that Bradley was in an untenable situation and firing him won't change things. The Swans are likely doomed whoever now ends up in charge: "Physically, Swansea are not fit enough. Mentally, Swansea are not tough enough. Individually, Swansea are not good enough."

Lots of names are being thrown out as possible replacements for Bradley, who was Swansea's fourth manager in nine months. Ryan Giggs and Paul Clement, who were contenders when Bradley was hired, Wales coach Chris Coleman, and Dutchman Frank de Boer. Will they have more success?

The Daily Mail's Riath Al-Samarrai isn't convinced: "Whichever way the next move plays out, the call to sack a second manager in the season is a sizable gamble, given the lack of happy endings in history for clubs who change multiple times in a campaign."
19 comments about "Bob Bradley firing: The view from Britain".
  1. Bob Ashpole, December 28, 2016 at 6:02 a.m.

    Blaming Swansea's present situation on the new American owners and coach is convenient but not accurate. They inherited a mess created by someone else. While the new owners had one transfer window opportunity to improve the team, the new coach had no opportunity at all. Now the issue is not just one of limited money, but also limited player availability and limited manager options. Managers will quite likely take a different view of what happened than the press.

  2. John Mcdermott, December 28, 2016 at 8:07 a.m.

    Frank DeBoer lasted around three months with Inter Milan this season before getting the boot. No one said he was "in over his head". Bradley has done a decent job nearly everywhere he's been. His biggest mistake was accepting a job where he had to come in and clean up somebody else's mess. It was never his team and he came in when that ship was already sinking. Fabio Capello once said his biggest mistake as a manager was coming back to AC Milan the second time, in the middle of a season which had gone wrong, because it's not your team and there is so little you can do to change it, but you end up getting the blame. But you don't always get to decide when your dream job will come. When you are Bob Bradley and the EPL calls, you go, even if you go with the odds stacked strongly against your chances for success.

  3. Sean Kenny, December 28, 2016 at 9:35 a.m.

    The failure of Bradley has put American coaches on the back burner once again. Bradley was flying the flag for American soccer whether he liked it or not. American coaches will never be taken seriously.

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, December 28, 2016 at 11:25 a.m.

    By who?

  5. Scot Sutherland replied, December 28, 2016 at 5:03 p.m.

    @Bob Ashpole. By who? By Americans an by Brits. I played in the days when there was no professional league in the United States. Whenever a player with a foreign accent showed up we sat the bench, whether the player was fit or even good. We had to earn our way back onto the field. New players came and the players with a foreign accent played. We learned to adjust our game to play roles none of the foreigners wanted. Many of us moved to coaching because there were no playing opportunities after college. Same thing happened with coaching. If they had a foreign accent we were often replaced. The bias was real. Happily things are slowly getting better. When we can develop our players here and our national team begins to compete for the World Cup in 25-30 years we may be able to completely overcome the bias, here and overseas. Adrian Heath failed in MLS. Who would have a better chance with a team at any level in England, Heath or Porter? The answer to that question tells you all you need to know.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, December 28, 2016 at 8:13 p.m.

    @Scot The point I am making is that bias against US coaches is not universal, contrary to what Sean said. Compare the number of US coaches leading MLS teams with the number of English coaches managing EPL teams. I think you have something in common with English players and managers today, as far as the EPL is concerned.

  7. Frank Fonte, December 28, 2016 at 11:27 a.m.

    bradley walked into a situation where he couldnt have succeeded. but that's where where he wanted to go. now he knows what its like. best for him to go back to france in league II. or ponder a move back to mls. i think he would be a good fit in dc. would like to see him replace olsen. but good luck to bradley.

  8. John Soares, December 28, 2016 at 1:16 p.m.

    Impossible situation, in the short term.
    His "failure" has a lot to do with lack of time, support and resources. Not his ability or nationality.

  9. Andrew Kear, December 28, 2016 at 2:38 p.m.

    It doesn't compare to Klinsmann almost destroying an entire national team. Klinsmann is still bum of the year.

  10. Sam Anderson, December 28, 2016 at 3:10 p.m.

    In the PL? By Brits? Who cares. It's a nation whose NT has been moribund for years. A league that has benefited from a funnel of money paying for tv rights - which will dry up when Brexit hits, there are far fewer non-British players and interest wanes.

    Let's not make more of this than it is. If Bob had succeeded, PL teams would not be lining up to hire Kreis, Vermes, et al. It was a one off.

  11. Goal Goal, December 28, 2016 at 3:55 p.m.

    Bradley is not a failure. He was doomed before he started. Speaking of the team itself-you put lipstick on a pig and it's still a pig. Look what Liverpool did to Kenny Dalglish several years ago and he is a God in Liverpool.

  12. Kevin Leahy, December 28, 2016 at 4:17 p.m.

    Soccer snobs are everywhere. I think the lesson learned is not, to grab the first offer that is out there. If it is not the right situation, you are better saying no, even if it never comes again.

  13. MA Soccer, December 28, 2016 at 6:18 p.m.

    he had poor results (as did his predecessor) its a results driven business and they did not trust him at the transfer window.

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, December 28, 2016 at 8:16 p.m.

    Under Bradley Swansea significantly improved (in point production per game), although still not enough to climb out of the hole.

  15. Don Woodman, December 28, 2016 at 11:37 p.m.

    Under Bradley Swansea did not significantly improve. They marginally improved their point production per game but worsened the number of goals they shipped. Bob should have been given a transfer window to work with. But he would have made it more likely that he was allowed a transfer window to use had he decided to shore up the defense. He experimented with numerous back lines but he continued to allow Swansea to ship goals and get pasted. He was losing by multi goal margins repeatedly. If he had decided to play a 5 man back line and just park the bus and lose by 1 goal margins he would have been able to make a better case that a few improvements on the roster wold lead to some wins.

  16. MA Soccer, December 29, 2016 at 7:27 a.m.

    if you project Swanseas point production where would they finish? i don't get defending keeping bob using point production per game increase when that average would put them relegated. i like bob, it didn't work, he was not the right guy

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, December 29, 2016 at 10:14 a.m.

    The point was he was doing better--with the same players--than the prior coach. To stay up they needed every single point they could get in the first half. Otherwise they could win eight straight games after January and still be relegated.

  18. MA Soccer, December 29, 2016 at 6:55 p.m.

    I agree Bob. Not rooting against Bob B but it clearly was not working and he needed much better results to stay.

  19. Bob Ashpole replied, December 29, 2016 at 11:42 p.m.

    I disagree on that point. Seems to me that the plan was working as planned, the team picked up 8 points so far under Bradley before the transfer window. Points matter more than goal differential. The plan was to improve the team by picking up players during the transfer window, not solve the problem with the players on hand. Unfortunately the fans didn't like the plan. So sack the coach so fans continue to buy tickets.

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