Chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “we want Bradley out” cascaded around the Liberty Arena as Swansea were embarrassed on Boxing Day by a 4-1 scoreline by West Ham. It was hardly the result that former U.S. MNT manager Bob Bradley and the Welsh strugglers needed to kick off the crucial Festive Season and the disgruntled Jack Army let all concerned hear it.
Bradley’s appointment as the first American to coach in one of Europe’s Big 4 league was greeted in the U.S. as a breakthrough but things have not gone as hoped for the former Egypt national team manager.
Many Swansea fans were upset that Wales and Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs did not get the nod which only added to the feeling that deposed boss Francesco Guidolin had been harshly dealt with.
Then there was the Swansea Supporters trust who own 21% of the club and were angered that the club’s American owners, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien had not consulted them on the managerial change.
It was but no means an easy situation Bradley walked into but there were positives to be found in a 3-2 loss at Arsenal and a 0-0 draw at home to Watford as the Bradley era began.
Warning bells began to chime though regarding the team’s defense with 3-1 losses to Stoke (away) and Manchester United (home) and through 11 matches under Bradley the Swans have allowed an unacceptable 25 goals.
To his credit Swansea has attempted to play rather than bunkering in but it might be time for a re-think given that Bradley’s side has allowed at least three goals in eight of those 11 matches. Included in that was a wild 5-4 victory over Crystal Palace that saw the Swans surrender a 3-1 lead to trail 4-3, only to get a brace from Fernando Llorente in stoppage time to win the match.
Today’s disappointing result keeps Swansea mired in the drop zone with just 12 points from 18 games, leaving Swansea 20 games to salvage its Premier League status.
Ownership has recently pledged to stay with Bradley through the transfer window, a pledge that if kept would allow the manager a chance to sign some players of his own.
Of course that pledge, the dreaded “vote of confidence” is often amongst the last thing a coach hears on his way out the door, so we will have to wait and see if Kaplan and Levien hold firm.
Bradley may take some solace from Ben Olsen’s continued role as coach of DC United. DC finished dead last in MLS in 2013 but Levien and his fellow owners stayed the course only to be rewarded with a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference the very next season.
The pressures of life in the Premier League are certainly different than those found in MLS but Bradley will surely be hoping for Levien to show the same forbearance that he displayed in Olsen’s case.