In the summer of 2016 Swansea City was formally taken over by American owners and that was certainly the first step that led to Bob Bradley’s appointment as manager of Swansea City. The process was certainly chivvied along by the fact that incumbent manager Francesco Guidolin had allegedly spent much of pre-season watching the Tour de France rather than coaching his players, making him pretty unpopular. Guidolin has steered Swansea to safety during the 2015/16 season but after winning just one of his first eight matches in 2016/17 he was given the boot and almost instantly Bob Bradley was installed as the man who would guide Swansea back up the table.
While initially Bradley was portrayed as an American idiot who clearly knew nothing about ‘soccer ball’ or whatever they call it the States he did have a decent enough CV. He’d won the MLS Cup with the Chicago Fire, taken the United States to the knockout rounds of the world cup and had become the first American to manage in the top flight of any European league. Of course there was scepticism when he was first appointed, the new American owners appointing an American manager reeked of favouritism but Bradley at least should be given a chance to impress.
Bobby’s first press conference was fairly memorable. He was surprisingly honest and open with the press and answered every question at great length. Sure he said things like ‘road game’ and ‘PK’ instead of away game and penalty kick which did make him sound like a bit of a jerk (that’s American for idiot) but he set out his footballing philosophy very intelligently. Maybe Bradley’s appointment wouldn’t turn out to be a complete disaster?
It was a complete disaster.
Bradley was handed a tough start with an away trip to the Emirates. The Swans would go on to lose 3-2 but there were a few positives so the jury was still out. Indeed Bradley’s time at Swansea was characterised by conceding goals. A lot of goals. The next four games were not exactly the stuff of legend as Swansea collected 2 points from a possible twelve conceding seven times and scoring three. An away draw against Everton wasn’t a bad result at all and the next game was an incredibly exciting 5-4 win against Crystal Palace with a last minute winner. Perhaps even more notable than the score line was the way in which Bradley pronounced the surname of then Palace manger Alan Pardew. Perhaps if the Swans could build on this win there was hope yet.
In their next match they got thrashed 5-0 by Spurs. Bradley was really under pressure now and despite a 3-0 win against Sunderland in the following three matches they went on to concede 10 goals! To make matters worse the teams that so definitively thrashed them were notoriously defensive West Brom, an out of form West Ham and a Middlesbrough side that scored 11% of their goals for the whole season when they welcomed Swansea to the Riverside. These were utterly embarrassing results and the 4-1 thrashing at the hands of West Ham on Boxing Day at the Liberty Stadium proved to be the final straw. The atmosphere among the fans was toxic and Swansea sat in 19th place, four points from safety. So after 11 games and 85 days Bob Bradley was sacked on the 27th December.
So what makes this managerial spell one of the worst of all time? Well for a start Swansea conceded 29 goals in just 11 games under Bradley, a truly atrocious record. Plus its not like the squad Bradley had was awful. Fernando Llorente and Gylfi Sigurdsson are excellent players and while the defenders weren’t great they weren’t concede three goals a game bad. Bradley clearly only got the job because he was American and while his CV wasn’t awful, it was not exactly Premier League ready. Bradley didn’t help himself by dressing like he was in The Matrix and using Americanisms in press conferences but ultimately his downfall was that he was massively out of his depth in the Premier League.
Bob Bradley’s spell at Swansea is definitely one of the worst in Premier League history at least Bobby seems like a stand up guy. Not that it brought him any success mind. Bradley hasn’t had a job since but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up in the Danish second division, or as manager Montenegro.