Being a pioneer doesn’t sit comfortably with Bob Bradley.
“The American stuff I can cover in 30 seconds,” Bradley said Friday at his Swansea presentation as the first American to manage a Premier League club. “Then I can push that out the door.”
After a long pause to gather his thoughts, the former United States coach continued his answer in a modest hotel in the south Wales city with a population of less than 250,000.
“With football in the United States we have always understood we have to earn respect,” said Bradley, who left French second-tier club Le Havre on Monday. “When I was with the national team, every time we got a chance to play in Europe, the players and I would understand, ‘Today is one more day where we can show what the game is like in our country.’ So in some ways this helps. I am proud what I have been able to do.
“This stuff about pioneer. I’m not an American manager. I’m a football manager.”
And he is plunging himself straight into a scrap to prevent Swansea from being relegated, with Francesco Guidolin fired after winning only one of the first seven league games.
“We have got to find a way to restore confidence,” Bradley said.
But Bradley is determined to seize the opportunity.
Throughout the arduous years, from working in dangerous conditions in Egypt to the edge of the Arctic Circle, Bradley always hoped to land a job in the topflight in a leading European league. The 58-year-old New Jersey native was linked to Premier League jobs in the media, but rarely came close.
“You guys have written my name a few times,” Bradley said. “Most of the times I never got on a shortlist maybe once … in those kind of situations, the decision makers may not know who I am.”
What helped at Swansea was the club having American owners, just like at Le Havre.
Steve Kaplan, a minority owner and executive vice chairman of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, and Jason Levien, a part-owner of D.C. United, took control of Swansea in July.
Bradley made his name as a coach internationally at the 2009 Confederations Cup, where the Americans beat European champion Spain en route to the final. The U.S. team followed it up by reaching the second round at the 2010 World Cup, but he was fired in 2011 and is still aggrieved with the circumstances.
At his first Swansea news conference, Bradley complained that Jurgen Klinsmann “was already jockeying for the job” while broadcasting at the 2010 World Cup.
Bradley took a bold step by moving to the Middle East to coach Egypt through the Arab Spring uprising. The “American Pharaoh” – as he became known – gained admiration there by staying through the violence but left after failing to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Bradley moved to Stabaek, which he departed after securing qualification for the Europa League last year. He impressed in his next job, too, in France, where Le Havre only missed out on promotion to the top division in May on goal difference.