if you were momentarily disturbed yesterday, it was likely by the sound of the collective gasp produced by the United Kingdom at the news that Bob Bradley is in the frame to take over managing Sunderland's effort not be relegated from the 2015-16 English Premier League.
The Daily Star called Bradley a "shock contender" for the job of coaching the 19th-placed team in England's top division. And the Express and Mirror opted for the same choice of words, presumably too stunned to find alternative phrasing. "Shocker: Yank might be the cure for Sunderland's shocking soccer" is the headline the British tabloid press would appear to be working its way toward.
Dick Advocaat resigned from the Sunderland head coaching position on October 4, having guided the Black Cats to three points from their first eight league games - and no wins. The club now seeks its fifth manager since Martin O'Neill was sacked in March 2013.
The search has only been on for three days, but it would appear to not be going well. Most names that have been connected to the Sunderland job are mentioned in the context of not wanting it: Sam Allardyce, David Moyes, Sean Dyche, even Harry Redknapp - all have popped up in media discussion of the vacancy on Wearside; not one is interested, we are told. Former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson has been described as a "backstop option".
A struggling Premier League club ought not to have too much trouble finding someone willing to have a crack at reversing its fortunes, but the British press is currently enjoying the task of painting the Sunderland effort to recruit a new head coach as further evidence of the team's current ineptitude.
And Bradley's name enters the conversation in an unfortunate context: he's linked to a job no one else seems to want - with the possible exception of Nigel Pearson.
The UK tabloids' exaggerated shock at the thought of Bob Bradley managing Sunderland isn't entirely unwarranted. American soccer coaches appear to travel as well as English soccer players: there just aren't many of them performing at a high (or even low) level outside their home country. Bradley is a stubborn exception to the rule, having pointedly sought out work anywhere but the USA since being relieved of his duties as the US Men's National Team head coach in 2011.
Bradley is, to coin a phrase, once a Metro: he was the coach of the MetroStars from October 2002 to October 2005. He brought the team to its first (and, to date, only) US Open Cup final in 2003, but he was fired by the club without a trophy to show for his time in New York. That is not a slight on his coaching prowess. Not winning a trophy for the MetroStars or (as they became) New York Red Bulls is a feature of the careers of some respected soccer tacticians, including Carlos Queiroz, Carlos Alberto Parreira, and Bruce Arena, the most successful coach in MLS history.
Bradley's success came before and after his stint with the MetroStars: he won a league and cup double with Chicago Fire in 1998, his first year as a pro team head coach. He was USMNT's head coach by 2006. His career highlights with the national team include breaking Spain's 32-game unbeaten streak in the 2009 Confederations Cup. And he may be remembered by England fans as the man on the sidelines when the USA turned a Robert Green error into a 1-1 draw with the Three Lions at the 2010 World Cup.
Since leaving the USMNT and the USA, Bradley has managed Egypt's national team and currently is the head coach at Norwegian top-flight outfit Stabaek. He held the Egypt job during an uncommonly difficult period in the country's political and sporting history: he took over as the nation recovered from its 2011 revolution, and he was tasked with helping the Pharaohs through the aftermath of the Port Said Stadium disaster. Ultimately, his effort to get Egypt to the 2014 World Cup was stymied by Ghana, the same opponent that had knocked his US team out of the 2010 World Cup.
From Egypt, Bradley landed in Norway in January 2014, taking over Stabaek in its first season back in the top flight since 2012. He guided the newly-promoted team to ninth place in the Tippeligaen last season. The club is currently chasing a second place finish (first-placed Rosenborg looks out of reach) in 2015.
Bradley is arguably the highest-rated American coach not named Bruce Arena - and many observers would rank his achievements outside MLS higher than Arena's within the North American league. The latter man has made a habit of winning trophies with LA Galaxy. Bradley could, one assumes, have picked up a job in MLS at almost any time since leaving USMNT, but he has deliberately sought work in places that might further his reputation outside North America. It is generally assumed he wants a shot at managing a team in a top European league.
Sunderland has an American owner - Ellis Short - and that alone might be enough for the rumor mill to connect an American coach to the club (it has in the past). But the initial "shock contender" stories reported Bradley has let it be known he is interested. He has sought out challenging jobs since 2011, so it is perhaps no shock at all that he might be up for the task of stabilizing one of the most consistently unsettled clubs in the Premier League (in recent years, at least).