Bob Bradley: A casualty of forces beyond his control

Eleven matches was all it took for Swansea’s brass to decide that Bob Bradley wasn’t the right man for the job.

Two wins, two draws, and seven losses for the first American to manage in the Premier League are surely the mark of a gaffer who had his share of struggles; under the 58-year-old, Swansea’s backline was breached 29 times. That is, simply put, not good enough at this level – or any level, in truth.

But realistically, what better could have been accomplished with the same shambolic squad?

Related: Swansea fires Bob Bradley after 85 days, 11 matches in charge

Save for Gylfi Sigurdsson, Swansea’s roster is littered with afterthoughts and castoffs.

For every two-goal performance from Fernando Llorente, there were nightmarish outings like the ones against Manchester United and West Brom.

For each stellar display by Leroy Fer, there were hordes of poor ones, most noticeably a 90-minute shift in a 5-0 defeat at Tottenham the first week of December.

Then again, there’s Borja Baston – who Bradley’s predecessor Francesco Guidolin signed for a club record £15.3 million – who at times has appeared more Ali Dia than Dele Alli.

Neil Taylor and Kyle Naughton may very well be the worst full-back tandem in the league, while a centre-half pairing of Jordi Amat and Mike van der Hoorn is hardly a source of inspiration.

Ki Sung-yeung has all but disappeared, Leon Britton no longer has the physical attributes to play in the top flight, and Jefferson Montero carries more knocks than matches played. Again, hard to blame Bradley for that, especially since he’s looked for alternatives in a scant 85-day tenure.

It’s not like the academy is a source of talent, either. The only real talent that Swansea’s youth set up has produced of late is Ben Davies, and perhaps his greatest virtue is that he was sent to White Hart Lane in a deal that saw Sigurdsson come the other way.

Bradley has given some kids preened at other clubs a chance this year like Alfie Mawson, Stephen Kingsley, and Jay Fulton, though it’s hard to see players as green as that trio helping a club survive top flight football. Not sure what more any manager would do in the same situation.

Like Matthew said, don’t be “like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”

Bradley wasn’t given the rock to build a house on.

Related: Bradley on Swansea firing: ‘I knew exactly what I was getting into’

Rewinding a few months, the club failed to adequately replace Andre Ayew and Ashley Williams in the summer. That’s hardly the fault of a manager who was hired more than a month after the transfer window closed. Sacked days before the January window opens, it’s impossible to say what Bradley could have done.

He wasn’t given the chance.

On what planet does a club captain and longest-tenured player like Williams get sold in the summer without a replacement on deck? That’s on Swansea’s board, not on Bradley.

Perhaps it’s time Swans chairman Huw Jenkins takes a long look in the mirror.

In 2012, Michael Laudrup was faced with the unenviable task of replacing Championship playoff winner Brendan Rodgers. A year later, the Dane led Swansea to its first ever major trophy with a 5-0 League Cup drubbing over Bradford City.

Twenty days short of a calendar year later, and Laudrup was sacked.

Then came Garry Monk, a manager who was as much a part of Swansea City as any in its tattered history. After a decade at the club as a player, Monk was handed the reigns as interim manager by Jenkins in February 2014.

Under Monk, the Swans survived the drop, earning the former centre-back a three-year permanent deal. The following year, Monk led the club to the last-32 of the Europa League before getting bounced by Rafa Benitez’s Napoli.

Again, Monk kept Swansea in the Premier League until the 2015-16 campaign, when the manager was sacked after just one victory in 11 matches.

A year on, and after a rocky start, Monk has led Leeds United to its best start in the Championship with 41 points through 23 matches. Imagine the coincidence if Swansea is relegated and Monk returns Leeds to the top flight for the first time since 2003-04.

Eleven matches and 85 days later and Bob Bradley is out of work, Swansea is out a manager and frankly, Jenkins is out of ideas, and for that matter, so too are American owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien.

Football is a simple game, but the narratives that besiege it need not be.

Noted more as the first American to manage in the Premier League than for his successful spells with club and country, the foreign sobriquet that dotted Bradley’s tenure in south Wales was unfair compared to that of other foreign managers.

When Bradley replaced Guidolin on Oct. 3, the New Jersey-born manager became a lightning rod for derision, but not because of the football, but because of his drawl.

Former Welsh international Danny Gabbidon sacrificed tact for candor, saying “I can’t take him seriously, I don’t know if it’s the American accent.”

Ex-Swansea striker and failed lower-league manager Dean Saunders added to Gabbidon’s obtuse approach, saying “Bob Bradley’s accent isn’t helping him. It just doesn’t sound right when he’s talking and I don’t think people are taking him very seriously.”

A sample size of 11 matches is hardly a fragment considerable enough to deduce Bradley’s virtues as a manager, though it did provide an adequate specimen of the elements that continue to plague the English game.

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