Swansea City announced the arrival of their new manager this week, as Bob Bradley takes over from Francesco Guidolin. Bradley becomes the first American to manage a Premier League side and he knows that his appointment may come with a period of doubt from those involved.
“I’m not an American manager, I’m a football manager”, Bradley said during his introductory press conference.
Three players who can benefit from Bob Bradley at Swansea City
“With football in the US, we have always known that we needed to earn respect. It’s the number one thing. For a club to have any chance of being successful, you have to have a connection with supporters and community.”
Bradley brings with him an impressive resume and has met unique challenges internationally. Successful stints in MLS eventually led to him taking over the US national team, leading them to the knockout rounds of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
After being replaced by Jurgen Klinsmann in 2011, he managed the Egyptian national team and brought the Pharaohs to the brink of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. European clubs Stabaek (Norway) and Le Havre (France) followed and each showcased his unique ability to get the most out of his players.
Bradley takes over a Swansea City club in desperate need to turn their 2016-17 season around, with only four points from their first seven matches in the Premier League.
The Swans feature several players that could see their form take an upward turn under their new manager.
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is in his third season at Swansea City and has endured a difficult start to the current campaign. Defensive issues on the backline have not helped matters, but 12 goals conceded in seven matches with only one clean sheet will not bring success.
One position that the United States has a strong history of exporting to Europe and the Premier League is that of goalkeeper. Bob Bradley worked with both former Everton favourite Tim Howard and Brad Guzan of Middlesbrough in MLS early on in their careers, and eventually with the US national team.
Bradley’s understanding of positioning and disciplined approach could see Fabianski improve his overall game this term.
One of Bob Bradley’s greatest strengths is his ability to lead and motivate his players, through both hard work and a disciplined approach to training. His connection with team captain Leon Britton will be important in this regard and can only stand to benefit the player as well.
During his time with the US team, former Fulham defender Carlos Bocanegra was Bradley’s captain and an important figure in the locker room. From the training pitch to the next matchday, Bocanegra was a key component in preparing the squad for what was ahead.
Bob’s son Michael Bradley blossomed under his management in the US team also and shares many of these same attributes.
Leon Britton is one of the most popular figures in recent Swansea City history, with over a decade of service and having represented the club at various levels from League Two to the Premier League. His skillful touch combined with a strong working relationship with his new manager could see both he and Swansea find success this season.
Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Siggurdsson enjoyed strong stretches with Swansea in both 2012 and 2014, but has had difficulty replicating that form. Struggles under former manager Garry Monk last season were mentioned as a result of the team’s greater focus on wide play in attack.
Bob Bradley normally favours a 4-4-2 formation with a tight diamond midfield, as a defensive midfielder covers in front of the backline and an attacking midfielder gets forward often.
With a stronger ability to create chances from a central role, Bradley could see Siggurdsson’s scoring numbers flourish again. Only one goal so far this season could greatly change with placing the midfielder in a position in which he is more comfortable.
Siggurdsson’s pace, creativity and freekick abilities are weapons that Bradley will want to utilise as he begins his journey in Wales.