Premier League club Swansea City FC has made former U.S. Men’s National Team coach Bob Bradley the first ever American to coach in a top four European league, today naming the 58-year-old to replace Francesco Guidolin at Liberty Stadium.
And while the hiring is being hailed in American soccer circles reaction in Wales and England has been less enthusiastic with many disappointed that Wales and Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs was passed over for the American.
There is anger as well at the Welsh club’s American owners, Jason Levin and Steve Kaplan for their treatment of former manager Francesco Guidolin, who was fired on his birthday after only 25 games in charge.
Objections are also being raised in the English media and online to Bradley’s coaching resume and while it is true that New Jersey native has never managed a club at the Premier League level, Bradley did lead the United States to the Round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup, winning a group that included England before going out in extra time versus Ghana.
One year earlier Bradley led the U.S. to the finals of the Confederations Cup, beating eventual World Cup winners Spain in the semifinals before falling 3-2 to Brazil in the finals.
After being axed in favor of Jurgen Klinsmann in 2011 Bradley’s next move was to Egypt where he coached the Pharaohs through some very difficult times, earning plaudits for his steadfast manner throughout the Port Said riots, eventually missing out on the World Cup as Egypt fell to Ghana in a playoff.
On the club scene Bradley previously became the first American to helm a club at any top flight in Europe when he took over Stabaek in Norway, leading the tiny club to a Europa League berth before moving on to France, where Bradley brought Ligue 2 Le Havre within one goal of promotion last season.
Bradley’s first head coaching job was at Princeton before moving on to MLS, first as an assistant with DC United before taking over the Chicago Fire. Bradley led the Fire to the 1998 MLS Cup title and also coached the MetroStars and Chivas USA.
Swansea Chairman Huw Jenkins said in a statement “we are delighted Bob has agreed to join us. He is highly regarded as a coach and has a wealth of experience on the international and domestic front. He is well aware of the club’s footballing philosophy and will provide us with strong leadership qualities and a renewed belief to compete at this level.”
“It is never easy changing managers, but we are looking at a long-term appointment and we are confident Bob can settle us down and stabilize matters on and off the pitch.”
Swansea may be Bradley’s biggest challenge yet as he takes over a Swansea side mired in 17th place in the Premier League, one place above relegation.
Maintaining the Swans Premier League status is obviously job one for Bradley, the minimum goal that must be met if Bradley is to make the most of this historic opportunity.