In case you haven’t heard, Bob Bradley was dismissed yesterday from his role as Swansea City’s manager. Bradley was famously introduced by a club with partial American ownership as the first American born manager in the Premier League. Bradley lasted a total of 85 days in the job, during which Swansea played just 11 games. Let’s look at the numbers before and after Bobby B.
|(Cups + League)||Francesco Guidolin||Bob Bradley|
|Notable Opponents||Chelsea, Man City (2x), Liverpool||Arsenal, United, Spurs|
|Notable Results||Draw at home with Chelsea||None|
These are basic team stats and already we can see one glaring difference between the two managerial styles. Bob Bradley is not and was not equipped to handle the attacking styles of Premier League teams. 2.64 goals a game will get you relegated in any league, anywhere in the world.
Personnel was a problem for Bradley, but was also a problem for Guidolin which is why I don’t see it as a valid excuse for Bradley’s ineptitude. Guidolin’s side averaged barely over a goal a game and when he was fired, the ownership was likely looking for a replacement who could take advantage of Swansea’s decent attacking pieces. Bradley’s plan was able to move the ball forward more often, but he left a championship caliber defense exposed far too often.
Bradley’s schedule was considerably easier than Guidolin’s and Bradley was given a longer period to prove himself this year, yet his inability to adapt to the intensity of the premier league was obvious from the match at Stoke onward.
The decision to remove Bradley has to be viewed without emotion. Having been to a few Metrostars games where BB was at the helm. Bob is clearly a standup guy who has a great football mind, but as we see time and time again there are learning curves within and across leagues. Bradley was pulled from the second tier in France and thrown into arguably the best league in the world. Perhaps expectations were too high for a guy who didn’t have top tier experience.
The clearest explanation for the decision to remove Bradley has to do with business. The current TV rights deal guarantees every team in the Premier League at least 100 million pounds with incentives for finishing higher in the table. Teams that play in the English Championship will make a fraction of that amount this year.
Staying in the premier league affords Swansea to make the necessary improvements to say, their defense, that they so desperately need should the owners choose to use the money for that purpose. It goes without saying a high priority transfer target will be more likely to join a team in the top division compared to a team in the second division.
From my point of view, Swansea City is down but they’re not out. Removing Bradley around the holidays and giving the new manager an full second half of the season was the best option at the time. Swansea is, after all, only four points off Crystal Palace, who just replaced their own manager. Swansea’s next three games are against Bournemouth, Palace, and Hull; three critical matches against teams that will likely be in the relegation battle in the second half of the year.
I believed this team had enough quality to be in the top half of the table and despite their current position, I don’t see them becoming one of the three teams to be relegated in May. I see removing Bradley as a necessary step to avoiding relegation. Bradley dug the hole a little deeper for Swansea and they’ll need a manager with Premier League experience (Alan Pardew?) to dig them back out.