Swansea’s decision to fire Bob Bradley defies logic in every capacity
A day removed from Bob Bradley’s firing after just 11 matches in charge of Swansea City, things still don’t add up.
Opinions have been wildly hurdled at walls throughout the soccer world, most of which really don’t stick all that well. The ones that do all point to the same conclusion.
What on Earth is the Swansea board thinking?
It’s an acceptable take that the Swans, in 19th place in the Premier League and in a dire relegation situation, did not improve under Bradley. That much is clear. But given all that we’ve seen about this team, could any rational observer really have expected much at all in such a short amount of time? The eye test will tell you the players are just not good enough, with the defense in particular looking comically over-matched.
Francesco Guidolin must be snickering as he watches this all unfold. He had little say as Swansea sold both Andre Ayew and Ashley Williams with the only reinvestment on Borja Baston, a striker even Bradley’s attacking mentality hasn’t been able to light the spark. Now, with a Championship-caliber roster, neither Guidolin nor Bradley have been able to right the ship.
Guidolin - who probably shouldn’t have been let go himself - employed a defense-first tactic, much like a number of other Premier League teams throughout the decades battling against relegation: bunker in, hope for a counter or two, and take your chances. It didn’t work. Enter Bob Bradley, who looked to turn things around by changing the entire fabric of the team. If Guidolin’s hunker down style didn’t work, why not try and play the opposite? Except that didn’t work either; they scored more goals, but conceded a ridiculous amount.
So if neither strategy produced results, does the blame truly fall with the manager?
What the eye test will tell you is the players are just flat out not going to cut it. Whoever comes in will need a complete overhaul in the winter to the best of the club’s financial and recruiting ability. They failed to do so over the summer, and are paying the price. Unfortunately, the board has put themselves at a complete disadvantage; whoever is hired will have days - or less - to prepare for the January transfer window. To make matters even more confusing, the favorite to take the position, Ryan Giggs, has never been a manager before, meaning he’s never been in charge of player recruitment. Ever.
So, to wrap this all up, Swansea provided Bob Bradley with a relegation-caliber roster, expected him to turn it around in 11 matches, and when he inevitably couldn’t despite a clear vision for the pathway forward, they dumped him and are considering turning instead to a completely inexperienced name-hire days before the transfer window opens?
Teams have been here before - recently - and it never ends well. Fulham found itself with a Championship-caliber roster after Mohamed Al Fayed insisted on selling the club with pristine books, and they sacked three managers in the 2013/14 season, none of them able to stave off relegation. Aston Villa last campaign fired both Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde with neither able to keep them from going down. Managers can only do so much when given nothing to work with, and now, could they really attract someone capable of preventing relegation with the position suddenly so toxic?
There's no doubt Bob Bradley would have improved Swansea given time. In the short term Bob's remit was to get points. Screams Aston Villa.— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) December 27, 2016
Bottom line is, if Bradley was the right man for the job 11 matches ago, he’s probably still the right man now, and you could probably make the same argument for Guidolin before him. It’s clear the Swansea board has lost its way, and the club will pay the exorbitant price.