Swansea were pretty desperate when they brought in Bob Bradley, with only four points after the first half-dozen or so games. The former USMNT boss knew he was in for a rough ride when he took the position, and that avoiding relegation from the Premier League would take hard work and a little luck. And things haven’t quite gone his way so far— after seven league matches in charge, Swansea have won one and drew two, leaving them at the bottom of the table and in serious trouble heading into the festive season.
There could be any number of factors working against Bradley. A squad that’s out of form and short on confidence. A front office that’s reluctant to make investments in a manager that might not pan out. Some structural flaws in the club that are just now undermining the organization. A wide range of possible explanations for what’s holding the side back.
But Bradley has his own theory— anti-American sentiment.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Swansea’s crucial meeting with Sunderland on Saturday, Bradley said that a broad, prevailing bias against Americans is making it hard for him to succeed in the Premier League. “I don’t spend any time thinking about [my future at Swansea]. If some people want to criticise— there were some who had me out the door from the first day because of my accent,” Bradley said.
Most reasonable observers won’t deny that there is some latent bias against Americans in British sports (even if it’s nowhere near the moral equivalent of racism or the virulent forms of xenophobia that have swept through post-Brexit Britain). Still, one must wonder if the “criticism” Bradley’s receiving has more to do with Swansea’s position in the table and less to do with his accent.
He also said that the club is backing his plans for a major squad overhaul in the January transfer window, which chairman Huw Jenkins corroborated.
”We need to improve from back to front. I have good discussions with Huw on all aspects throughout week. I also have a weekly call with [new Swansea owners] Jason [Levien] and Steve [Kaplan]. If we come up with the right player and that player is eager to get to Swansea and feels it is a challenge they are up for, I have every bit of confidence Jason and Steve are ready to jump in and make moves that are going to help us.”
Swansea have five more league fixtures before January, and all but one are against lower-half teams. Regardless of Swansea’s willingness (or lack thereof) to invest in the squad, Bradley will have to make do with what he has during a critical part of the season. If he can’t string some points together over the next month, his accent may be the least of his worries.