Perhaps this particular managerial appointment is one that should be swept under the carpet and forgotten about as soon as possible. It seemed a ludicrous decision when Swansea hired Bob Bradley to try and steady the fast-sinking ship left by the hapless Francesco Guidolin, and so it proved with the American sacked after just 85 days in charge.
Bradley boasted a résumé which included a spell as USMNT boss – before scaling the heights of the Egyptian national team, Norwegian side Stabaek, and Ligue 2 outfit Le Havre. To say it was a gamble to appoint Bradley to a struggling Premier League team would be a gross understatement.
Simply put, Bob Bradley was not qualified to become Swansea manager. Here was a coach quietly going about his business in European football, before being thrust into the limelight almost without warning. Naturally, it was a job Bradley couldn’t refuse, but the thought process of Huw Jenkins and the Swansea board must be questioned.
That said, the candidates at the time were not hugely inspiring. Paul Clement and Ryan Giggs were interviewed, men who at least have experience of either coaching or playing for Premier League teams, but neither of whom would have instilled massive confidence in the Swansea faithful.
Sam Allardyce was still very much in the doghouse at the time, and his tactics would surely have gone against the so-called ‘Swansea way’ we hear so much about, pioneered by the likes of Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers. Bradley, though, was the greatest risk out of those options and that risk has backfired massively, with Swansea only above bottom club Hull on goal difference.
Still, it was hard not to feel sorry for Bradley during his short tenure. The American came in for ridicule almost immediately, his American soccerisms drawing derision from media and supporters alike. His use of phrases such as ‘PK’ and ‘road games’ did little to endear Bradley to the more traditional of supporters.
Of course, this mockery was always likely to occur when appointing an American coach, but the shaming of Bradley for this reason was completely unfair – to mock someone for the way they speak is borderline bullying. While perhaps Bradley deserves sympathy in this regard, it only served to increase the difficulty of his task.
The Boxing Day 4-1 humiliation at home to West Ham epitomised Bradley’s reign. Chaotic defending against a side who have consistently struggled to score this season led to an embarrassing defeat, effectively making Bradley’s position untenable. Bradley seemed to have no clue how to stop his side being pummelled, cutting a forlorn figure on the sideline.
Manager aside, Swansea’s squad leaves a lot to be desired this season. The Swans failed to adequately replace inspirational captain Ashley Williams, and their defensive partnership of Jordi Amat and Martin van der Hoorn have been an accident waiting to happen. If Swansea are to survive, they need significant reinforcement in January, whoever the next manager is.
Ryan Giggs remains favourite to take over, but the question is whether Giggs will accept being nothing more than a second choice after Bradley, or will he leave Swansea wallowing in the mess they’ve created for themselves. Alan Pardew is out of work, but the prospect of him replacing Bradley will hardly excite the Swansea fans. Chris Coleman perhaps provides the most natural option, although whether he would desert Wales at this time is another question.
Whatever happens next in South Wales, the appointment of Bob Bradley was an experiment that failed spectacularly. The question is whether the mistake of his appointment has made it too late for Swansea to escape the clutches of relegation, or if Swansea fans, perhaps content and safe under the stewardship of a steady pair of hands, will look back come May on Bradley’s reign as a necessary showcasing of their inadequacies.