Swansea hires Bradley, Premier League's 1st American manager

LONDON: Bob Bradley became the first American manager in the Premier League after being hired by Swansea on Monday, finally landing the opportunity he had been chasing to lead a top-flight side in Europe.

Swansea hired the former US national team coach to replace Francesco Guidolin, who became the first manager to be fired in the Premier League this season on his 61st birthday.

The Italian coach has only been at the south Wales club since January but lost his job after the team opened the season by winning only one of its seven league matches.

Swansea swiftly secured the release of Bradley from French second-tier club Le Havre, which he has been coaching since leaving Norwegian side Stabaek last year.

Bradley faces a daunting first game in charge of Swansea with a trip to Arsenal on October 15, taking on Arsene Wenger  the league's longest-serving manager of 20 years.

Bradley called the Swansea job "a unique opportunity" in a parting message on Le Havre's website.

"I know it's the exposure I've enjoyed at the club that has given me the opportunity to coach a Premier League team," he said.

The 58-year-old Bradley, who never played soccer professionally, gained his managerial experience at various levels in the US.

He coached Princeton University, became an assistant with Major League Soccer's DC United in 1996, then led the Chicago Fire, MetroStars and Chivas USA teams before landing the US national team job in 2006.

"He is highly regarded as a coach and has a wealth of experience on the international and domestic front," Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins said. "He is well aware of the club's footballing philosophy and will provide us with strong leadership qualities and a renewed belief to compete at this level.

"It is never easy changing managers, but we are looking at a long-term appointment and we are confident Bob can settle us down and stabilize matters on and off the pitch."

Bradley's coaching reputation grew after the 2009 Confederations Cup, where the Americans beat European champion Spain en route to the final. The US team followed it up by reaching the second round at the 2014 World Cup.

After being fired as US coach in 2011, Bradley took on the challenging task of managing Egypt through the Arab Spring uprising.

The "American Pharaoh"  as he became known  gained admiration there by sticking with the job even as Egypt was being shaken by deadly fan disorder, part of the wider anarchy in a nation going through violent street protests and bloody security crackdowns.

Bradley left Egypt after failing to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and moved to Stabaek, which he left after securing qualification for the Europa League.

In an interview with The Associated Press last year , Bradley spoke of his frustration that he was overlooked for jobs in major European leagues.

"I think that in many cases decision-makers play it safe," Bradley said then. "There's certainly a network. There are still a lot of good managers. There are also a lot of bad managers. It's not to say that sometimes you don't shake your head at how certain guys keep popping up in jobs."

He impressed in his next job in France, where Le Havre only missed out on promotion to the top league in May on goal difference.

Like at Le Havre, Bradley will be working under American ownership at Swansea. Steve Kaplan, a minority owner and executive vice chairman of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, and Jason Levien, a part-owner of DC United, took control of Swansea in July.

Bradley is not the only American manager in English soccer. David Wagner has started the second-tier League Championship season at Huddersfield by winning eight out of 11 games, taking the northern English team to top spot in the division.

Gary Lineker, the former England striker who is now England's leading soccer broadcaster, expressed surprise at Bradley's appointment.