The inevitable first managerial sacking of the Premier League season has happened just 7 games in, and no, it wasn’t Mark Hughes. The unfortunate man was Francesco Guidolin, who was only appointed in January, yet fired on his birthday after only 10 months in charge. It seems harsh, only 7 games into a season, but there are many factors involved; the Swans have not won since the opening day of the season, and are currently 17th in the table with only 4 points. In the 22 matches he was in charge only 7 were victories, picking up 26 points from a possible 66, averaging 1.18 Points per Game. Of those 7 were victories over Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City which secured Premier League survival for another term. But it seemed a form destined never to improve.
But there is one major factor in this change of personnel: club ownership. In the 2015-16 close season, an American consortium bought a controlling interest in the club, with Huw Jenkins retaining his chairman position, which leads to Guidolin’s replacement: US Coach Bob Bradley.
Bradley becomes the first ever US coach to manage in the Premier League, leaving his position at 2nd tier Frence outfit Le Havre and bringing 30 years of coaching experience into the biggest league in the world. He’s managed and had success at almost every level; with MLS outfit Chicago Fire he won the MLS Cup and US Open Cup double, and after progressive stints and MetroStars and Chivas, went on to manage to US National team for 5 years. After CONCACAF Gold Cup success in 2007, the 2nd round of the 2010 World Cup (drawing with England in the group stage), his reign ended after defeat to Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final. He then had stints as manager of Egypt, guided Norwegian top division side Stabaek into the Europa League on a notably lower budget than other teams, and finally with Le Havre he took them to within 1 goal of promotion to Ligue 1 after 34 games.
It’s a long, extensive and pretty impressive CV and despite all he has achieved, his appointment has been met with scepticism and in some cases, scoff and disbelief. It’s unfortunate that almost all of that scoff is because Bob is an American coach, the first ever in the premier league in fact. Not long after the announcement came responses like this:-
While Swansea do lie just above the relegation spots, they have performed encouragingly at times, in contrast to the teams below them, and there are 31 games left to secure Premier League status for another term.
Not to say his task will be easy, far from it; his first game will be against Arsenal, at the Emirates Stadium, who are unbeaten in all competitions since the opening day of the season, with 4 clean sheets in a row. “I’ve known Bob Bradley for many, many years,” Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis said. “He’s a terrific manager who has put a lot into his career. But since he’s playing against us in his first game I won’t wish him too much luck off the bat.”
So the questions begs: does it really matter that he is American? Sure it’s unknown territory for the club and the league so the response is of no surprise, but it is hard to argue with Bradley’s CV and for that alone he is surely worth the shot. But it appears Americans shouldn’t know soccer – sorry, football – and he appears doomed to fail before being given a chance. Such parochial views will hopefully be proven wrong, as it will always be Bob in the firing line, not the hierarchy who perform rather unceremoniously towards their managers.