Is Bob Bradley the man to steer Swansea clear of a relegation battle?
With the international break drawing to a close, we will get an opportunity to see Bob Bradley’s side for the first time as they take on Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday. The American has become the first man from the States to manage in any of Europe’s top five leagues, let alone in the Premier League. It is not a surprising move from the new American ownership at Swansea that they chose Bob Bradley as the successor to the out-going Francisco Guidolin, given that Bradley has previously managed in the MLS and led the United States national team to the 2010 World Cup.
Swansea have suffered a poor start to the season results wise; having not won since the opening day and finding themselves sat 17th in the Premier League table. However, given the difficulty of the opening few games for the Swans it could be argued that it was a harsh decision to remove Guidolin from his post. The Italian arrived in January but was plagued by a lack of transfer activity at the club and was removed after just 7 games of this Premier League season under his belt. It seems like an odd decision to remove a manager who many fans were supportive of despite the results not quite clicking for the Welsh outfit – and replacing him with a manager with no experience in the Premier League and who has most recently managed in the French second tier and in Norway.
The owners at Swansea have said that they have followed the career of Bob Bradley wherever he has gone and it is fair to say that he has enjoyed relative success at most teams that he has managed. He has a lot of character to go with a lengthy career in the game and even beat Ryan Giggs to the post. Giggs does have the same amount of Premier League managerial experience as Bradley, but surely would have been more knowledgeable of the league – having been involved with it every year since its inception.
What Bradley does bring to the table is supreme confidence. He has in the past spoken about his own managerial abilities being on par with those of Klopp and Pochettino, and Swansea fans will certainly be hoping that that is the case. The American will need all of his confidence and skill to win round the fans who are frustrated at the way Guidolin was removed from his position and in order to get Swansea winning more football matches.
One of the keys for Bradley turning around Swansea’s fortunes will be to get the squad on his side. The Swansea players contributed to the departure of Garry Monk over his coaching technique and now find themselves with another manager who will demand respect and effort out of all of his players. One massive factor will be whether £15m man Borja Bastón will be able to make an impact for the Swans this season. He is an elite level finisher but the modern striker needs to do more than just score goals. However, Swansea’s record signing could play a very important role this season if he is able to find his feet and the net.
When you are in a relegation battle, it is important to pick up as many points as possible from winning positions. As Liverpool upped the pressure at the Liberty you never quite felt that Swansea were going to hold out – this is something that you see every year from teams that will be in danger as the season reaches its conclusion. However, Bradley has a huge amount of character and who will be looking to install his own state of self-belief into every player in his new squad.
Swansea have shown glimpses of ability this season, but the Liverpool result would have knocked the wind out of them and they will need to find a resilience and grit in order to get results from these sort of matches in the future. The former United States national team boss was in charge of Egypt’s national side during the Port Said massacre; remained in the country and took Egypt to within one game of the 2014 World Cup. The American will be hoping that his players will follow his example and show bravery in the face of any adversity that may face them this season.
It won’t be an easy task for Bradley considering he has never managed in the Premier League and that he will also have to win over the Swansea fans who are frustrated with the treatment of Francisco Guidolin. However, Swansea have enough talent and knowledge of the division to know how to get themselves out of trouble and win matches. The American arrives with a question mark over his ability to manage at this level and the Swansea faithful will be hoping that his own self-confidence isn’t misguided.
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