Bob Bradley has been appointed Swansea City’s manager, becoming the first American to helm a Premier League club. He replaces Francesco Guidolin.
Bradley has been the manager at Le Havre, in France’s Ligue 2, since last November. He led Le Havre to within one goal of being promoted to Ligue 1 last season, and they currently sit mid-table. He has previously managed Norway’s Stabæk, and the Egyptian and American national teams.
Before taking the Le Havre job, in an interview with the Associated Press, Bradley sounded frustrated that opportunities to manage in one of Europe’s big four leagues weren’t forthcoming. While American players have broken in nearly everywhere in Europe, American managers are still regarded with caution. He spoke about the networks that exist in European soccer, and how he wasn’t really part of them. It is perhaps not a coincidence, then, that Swansea was recently taken over by Americans.
Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien bought a controlling interest in Swansea City in June. Both were in attendance on Saturday to witness Swansea’s 2-1 loss to Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium. Kaplan is the executive vice-chairman of the Memphis Grizzlies, while Levien was formerly part of the 76ers and Grizzlies ownership groups, and is currently the managing general owner of MLS’s D.C. United. Bradley was an assistant at D.C. United in the late 1990s, before leading the Chicago Fire to the MLS Cup.
Bradley had stiff competition for the position. According to Grant Wahl, Swansea also interviewed Welsh former Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs and former Sevilla and Villarreal manager Marcelino.
He replaces Franceso Guidolin, who was was appointed last January with Swansea sitting just above relegation. Guidolin guided the Swans to a 12th place finish, but they’ve only won one Premier League game this season and are once again relegation-threatened. His sacking is a bit unfair, but that is how managing jobs go these days, and the international break will give Bradley the most possible time to bed in.
But as Bradley well knows, he must work quickly. He becomes the ninth Premier League manager in his first season with the club, and only five Premier League managers have been with their clubs for more than two seasons. Bradley may have finally reached the promised land, but if he doesn’t deliver immediate results, he’ll be gone as quickly as he came.