Bob Bradley’s employment status looked perilous in early December. He did not reach the January transfer window. Swansea City fired him after a 4-1 home loss to West Ham. The first American to manage an EPL club lasted just 11 matches.
Results support the move. Bradley’s teams allowed 29 goals in 11 matches (2.64 per). Such an open door policy makes it hard to get results. Swansea lost seven, only won two under Bradley. While defeats to Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United were reasonable, being blown out by a combined 7-1 margin against bottom half clubs West Ham and Middlesbrough was not.
Bradley played a role in the results. But, the former USMNT coach was placed in an inauspicious situation. Sometimes, it’s prudent to leave the box and change direction with a coaching hire. Swansea hiring Bradley mid-season was not one of those times.
Bradley is a respected soccer figure. Taking and sticking with the Egypt job (and nearly qualifying them for the World Cup) says much about his character. That said, his European club résumé, at Staebek in Norway and Le Havre in French 2, was thin. This is a league where far bigger names have struggled in better situations.
Bringing in Bradley was, as we noted at the time, a bold hire. That was a polite way of saying there was ample risk with an unclear return.
If inclined to do so, May would have been the right time to bring in Bradley. He would have had a transfer window to buy players. He would have had months before the season to set the tone, to establish a system, and to organize everything on the back end. October, with the club on a fast-track toward relegation, was about the worst time to gamble with a coaching hire.
Firing Bradley this soon was not fair. There is no room for fairness within the present financial reality. Swansea City does not get a No. 1 pick for finishing bottom. The club gets kicked out of the league. In the EPL, that differential is tens if not hundreds of millions at a minimum. EPL status is the difference between being a Top 20-30 club in Europe and potentially traumatic uncertainty.
Critics ripped Swansea for not hiring a manager who, if not British himself, had extensive league experience. That quality alone was no guarantee of success. Alan Pardew, nearing two decades of experience with six different clubs, was just fired by Crystal Palace.
But, October was the time for Swansea to make a practical hire with a high floor and a minimal learning curve. Bradley, while capable, was anything but that. It looked like a chancy hire at the start. It’s hard not to be surprised how things ended.