“I remain proud and strong.”
That was the kicker at the end of an editorial by Bob Bradley published at The Players’ Tribune earlier today. In this wide-ranging essay, Bradley talks candidly about his brief tenure at Swansea City, where he served as manager for 70 days.
In his editorial, Bradley tries to thread a tricky needle— characterizing his difficulties at Swansea as the result of anti-American sentiment in English football while also insisting that his nationality background don’t (or shouldn’t) matter.
”When I was introduced at Swansea City, I was asked what it meant to be the first American manager in the Premier League. My answer was simple and straightforward: I was proud. Very proud. But then I quickly switched gears because I didn’t think any of Swansea’s diehard supporters would care about that angle. A day or so later, a journalist wrote that I was defensive about being American. That was wrong. I just didn’t think it mattered. Maybe I was wrong about that.”
He did, however, acknowledge that coaches in American sports have a very different culture.
”When I took the UEFA Pro Licence course, which is required to coach in a top league in Europe, I explained to a few of my Norwegian friends that there are no basketball coaching licenses in the U.S. Coaching is a craft. You learn from playing, doing, experimenting, emulating, adjusting. You never stop learning. You learn from your players, from your experiences. You learn from the game.”
Bradley went on to detail his experiences as USMNT head coach at the 2010 World Cup, as Egypt manager, and then to European club football with Stabæk and Le Havre. He took on the Swansea job as a challenge but didn’t think his status as an American would (or should) matter.
”As the first American manager in the Premier League, I fully understood how hard it was going to be to establish myself. Without the benefit of a preseason, the work to change the team would have to be done gradually. The key in the short run was to take enough points to satisfy critics and restore confidence with the players.”
”My postgame interview after a 3-0 loss to Middlesbrough only made matters worse. I said that we needed to show more resilience “on the road” (the English prefer the word away), and referred to a penalty kick as a “PK.” People on social media screamed that American sports terms had no place in the Premier League.”
The whole editorial is worth a read. Even if you don’t agree with his assessment, or the extent to which anti-American sentiment played a role in his failed tenure at Swansea, his perspective on what happened is worth listening to.