Bob Bradley thinks he’s one of the world’s best managers. So we didn’t expect him to be intimidated by his surroundings when he faced off against Arsène Wenger and Arsenal at the Emirates in his first Premier League match. In the end, Swansea were unlucky not to get a positive result against the Gunners.
Sigurdsson has top-draw finish to get #Swans on the board #PLonNBC https://t.co/zqGlk1GJzV— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) October 15, 2016
Strolling the touchline of a stadium that hosts Champions League soccer year in and year out against a legendary manager is exactly where Bradley believes he belongs. His self confidence was made clear a few months back when he said he is on the same level as the likes of Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti.
To an English press well-versed in the art of managerial criticism, that statement will serve as the first piece of ammunition in the battle to denounce Bradley should Swansea continue its putrid form. But Bradley is working with a clean slate at the moment, and his long and winding managerial career implies he has the gall to handle most obstacles.
Bradley has traversed everything from American college soccer and MLS to the Norwegian top flight and the French second division. His international managerial experience also spans all the way from the United States to Egypt.
Bradley’s service for the USMNT cemented an American expectation for progression at major tournaments. His team’s runs at the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup prove as much.
When Bradley was let go as manager of the national team after a loss in the 2011 Gold Cup final against Mexico, he immediately asked himself: “Where is the next challenge going to be?”
He probably could’ve gone back to MLS a-la Bruce Arena, but instead chose to accept a position that would test much more than his tactical prowess. By agreeing to become the Egyptian national team manager during the autumn of 2011, it meant landing in Cairo with the embers of the recent Egyptian Revolution still littered throughout the streets.
Imagine that, an American who just completed a stint in his home country’s most venerable managerial position choosing to coach a nation in the midst of political and social turmoil.
Bradley won his first six matches of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign with Egypt before falling to Ghana in a third round home and away tie. All this was accomplished despite Egypt’s Premier League being cancelled a full four months before Egypt’s first qualifying match with Bradley at the helm.
Some might say a Premier League pitch is like a battlefield, but Bradley’s Egyptian escapade saw him experience something close to the real thing. Bradley’s biggest off-the-pitch worry is now the British press, and it’s hard to imagine he’ll be fazed.
After all, he did open up his first Swansea press conference with this line: “I’m not an American manager, I’m a football manager.”
It’s up to him to prove that he’s a football manager who can hold his own against the world’s best. Today’s match against Arsenal shows he can compete with the best of them.