Bob Bradley makes American soccer history as Swansea City name him their new manager
Swansea City have fired manager Francesco Guidolin and hired Bob Bradley to take over the struggling Premier League club. The appointment makes Bradley the first American to ever manage in one of Europe's top leagues.
Bradley got his start in American college soccer, before becoming one of the best managers in MLS and then leading the United States national team from 2007-2011. He won a Gold Cup, finished first in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup and then led the U.S. to first place in their group at the 2010 World Cup, the first time an American team had done so since 1930.
After managing the U.S. Bradley set about trying to manage at the highest level in Europe. He was open about that being his ultimate goal, but no offers came so he became the Egypt manager. After that, he took over Stabaek, where he became the first American to qualify for the Europa League. That earned him a move to Le Havre, where he came within one goal of getting the French club promoted to Ligue 1.
There has long been skepticism over American players in Europe. That comes with being from a country where soccer was long an afterthought, the style of play could be problematic and few players had broken through before. But that barrier has largely begun to come down over the last decade. However, the barrier for managers is still alive and well for the same reasons. American managers were often taught by other Americans, didn't understand what it was like to manage against the best and were ill-prepared for elite level soccer, or at least the thinking went.
Bradley getting a job in the Premier League can go a long way towards opening up more opportunities for American managers in Europe. He was bred in American soccer, from college, to MLS, to the national team. That's not to say that going abroad after 2011 didn't help him, but his foundation was American and he was a very good manager before he ever went to Egypt, then Stabaek, then Le Havre. If he does well with Swansea, it will show to some people that American soccer can produce good managers and potentially lead to other clubs giving Americans chances to manage in Europe. For many, it may not come in the Premier League, but even chances in smaller leagues would be progress.
Swansea are currently 17th in the Premier League, barely out of a relegation place, and they have only one win in seven matches. Bradley will have his work cut out for him, but the international break does give him two weeks to settle in at the Liberty Stadium and try to start a turnaround for the Swans.
MORE FROM FOX SOCCER