Bradley fails to re­vive Swansea, a team and club in tur­moil

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

It is easy to look back on Bob Bradley’s 85 days as the first Amer­i­can coach in the English Pre­mier League and say he got things badly wrong at Swansea. Tak­ing over a rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened team with ob­vi­ous de­fen­sive frail­ties, Bradley never made Swansea hard to beat de­spite be­ing renowned as a coach who val­ued or­ga­ni­za­tion and a strong work ethic above all else. He reg­u­larly changed his line­ups and for­ma­tions, rarely go­ing back-to-back games with the same cen­tral de­fense or striker. And there were some odd team se­lec­tions, too, no­tably go­ing with two strik­ers - Borja Bas­ton and Fer­nando Llorente - up front against Manch­ester United de­spite both play­ers be­ing rarely used prior to that game.

The stats make dire read­ing for Bradley in his short time at Lib­erty Sta­dium: In his 11 games in charge, Swansea col­lected just eight points and con­ceded 29 goals, 19 in its last six games. The team dropped two places in his stew­ard­ship, into the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

Newly hired man­agers of­ten get an im­me­di­ate up­turn in re­sults, even if only briefly, but there was no so-called “hon­ey­moon pe­riod” with Bradley. On the face of it, Swansea was head­ing only in one di­rec­tion un­der the Amer­i­can.

Yet, it could be ar­gued that Bradley was fac­ing an up­hill task from the mo­ment he took over. The seeds of tur­moil had al­ready been planted at a club that has lost much of the charm that made it a riv­et­ing topflight suc­cess story in re­cent years, fol­low­ing its ar­rival in the Pre­mier League in 2011.

To start with, Bradley’s ap­point­ment wasn’t uni­ver­sally ac­cepted. The sup­port­ers’ trust, which has rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the board, wasn’t con­sulted by the club’s new Amer­i­can own­ers over the de­ci­sion so Bradley took con­trol amid an at­mos­phere of dishar­mony. Some sup­port­ers may have felt Bradley only got the job be­cause he has the same na­tion­al­ity as his pay­mas­ters.

Then there was the squad Bradley in­her­ited. Swansea’s trans­fer deal­ings in the off­sea­son have turned out to be in­ad­e­quate, sell­ing Ash­ley Wil­liams and An­dre Ayew its stal­wart cap­tain and top scorer from last sea­son, re­spec­tively - and not re­plac­ing them with the same qual­ity or ex­pe­ri­ence.

Wil­liams, in par­tic­u­lar, has been a huge loss, de­priv­ing Swansea of the glue that held the de­fense to­gether. Swansea had four other cen­ter backs in Jordi Amat, Mike van der Hoorn, Al­fie Maw­son and Fed­erico Fer­nan­dez, who have all been in and out of the team.

Bas­ton, who joined for a club-record fee of 15.5 mil­lion pounds ($20 mil­lion) in the off­sea­son, has been a flop so far - scor­ing just one league goal - while Llorente has only made an im­pact in re­cent games, mostly off the bench.

Bradley had only one real gem in his squad: Ice­land mid­fielder Gylfi Sig­urds­son. The third ma­jor is­sue Bradley faced was restor­ing some kind of iden­tity to the team, which he failed to do. The hall­mark of Swansea sides over the past decade has been its free-flow­ing, pos­ses­sion-based ap­proach preached by man­agers like Roberto Martinez, Bren­dan Rodgers and Michael Lau­drup.

Some even dubbed them “Swanselona” over the years, a ref­er­ence to Swansea’s pass­able im­i­ta­tion of Barcelona’s pre­ferred style. Yet, that style has no­tice­ably dis­ap­peared over the past two years, be­cause of both its poor choice of sign­ings and the con­stant swap­ping of man­agers. It is hard to de­tect what Swansea’s style is th­ese days as the team seeks its fourth full-time man­ager in lit­tle over a year.

Add up all th­ese fac­tors and Bradley had an ex­tremely hard job on his hands. When re­ports of dress­ing-room un­rest be­gan to sur­face af­ter the 4-1 home loss to West Ham on Mon­day, it started to look omi­nous for Bradley. He was fired the fol­low­ing day.

Through­out his ten­ure at Swansea, Bradley faced some jibes - mostly from so­cial me­dia users and some Bri­tish pun­dits - about his oc­ca­sional use of Amer­i­can soc­cer terms, like “PK” (for penalty kick) and “road games” (for away games). Pri­vately, that might have frus­trated him while it might also have seeped into the con­scious­ness of some Swansea fans, de­spite be­ing a triv­ial mat­ter.

Ul­ti­mately, though, it was a run of heavy losses, and the lack of progress shown by the team, that cost Bradley his job.

He just hopes his tough ex­pe­ri­ence in the English Pre­mier League doesn’t dam­age the prospects of other Amer­i­cans look­ing to man­age there.

Speak­ing to Bri­tain’s Press As­so­ci­a­tion Sport be­fore his fir­ing, Bradley said: “It’s pos­si­ble that will hap­pen, and if that’s the case that would be dis­ap­point­ing. “We (Amer­i­can man­agers) have to con­tinue to show peo­ple that we are good.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.