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Bob Bradley makes his move: Swansea makes former MetroStars manager first American head coach in Premier League

The big gig he has been looking for has finally arrived. Bob Bradley is a Premier League manager.

CONCACAF Championship - United States v Mexico Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Swansea City has started October 2016 with a decisive change: Francesco Guidolin is out as head coach; Bob Bradley will take charge of the struggling Premiership club.

The Swans lost, 2-1, at home to Liverpool on Saturday, sank to 17th in the EPL table, and announced Guidolin’s departure on Monday morning, with Bradley simultaneously confirmed as the new manager.

The appointment is historic: Bradley will be the first American head coach of a Premier League team. Indeed, he will be the first American head coach of any team in one of Europe’s “big four” leagues (Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, and EPL).

Fairly or unfairly, his progress with Swansea will be taken by some as representative of the ability of the American soccer coach to succeed or fail outside America. It will be a fair assessment in the sense that Bradley is undeniably American and is one of the more influential coaches of his generation (New York Red Bulls’ head coach, Jesse Marsch, for example, counts himself as a disciple of Bradley’s methods and thinking).

And it will be an unfair assessment in the sense that Bradley has spent most of the past five years demonstrating that he is, for better or worse, simply an ambitious coach with an unquenchable desire to test himself outside the USA.

Still highly respected in America, he could have found work in MLS or the broader US Soccer hierarchy without great difficulty at any point since being relieved of his duties as USA head coach in 2011.

Since losing the USA job, however, Bradley has devoted himself to broadening his coaching horizons. He took over the Egypt national team in October 2011, at a time of great unrest in the country, and won respect for his work on and off the field during a very difficult time.

When it was time to move on - his Egypt team was bounced out of 2014 World Cup qualifying by Ghana - Bradley landed at Stabaek in Norway. That appointment made him the first American to manage a club in any top-flight league in Europe. And he subsequently became the first American manager to guide a team to the Europa League.

Having done a good job at Stabaek, he jumped again: to an (American-owned) ambitious Ligue 2 club, Le Havre. Under Bradley’s stewardship, HAC just missed out on promotion last season. It is early days in the new season, but Le Havre’s leadership said last week there was no concern about Bradley’s commitment to cause as the team sought to turn around a late-summer slump that had seen it fall to mid-table.

And now he is gone. Le Havre ought not to feel too hard done by: Bradley’s big-league ambitions were no secret. If there was a Premiership team that wanted him, he was always more likely than not to make the jump to it.

At Swansea, the immediate priority is clear: stem the flow of losses and get the team away from the bottom-end of the table. If he does that, he will be the first American manager to survive a Premiership relegation battle (which, early days or not, is what Swansea is in at the moment).

Unless you are American, the former MetroStars head coach is not an objectively exciting appointment for Swansea. He is generally measured and pragmatic both in press conferences and on the sidelines. He has shown himself to be remarkably adaptable since setting his sights on a big-league job in Europe, but third place in the Tippeligaen is not the sort of achievement that generally recommends a coach to the EPL. Nonetheless, Bradley has paid his dues, bided his time, and managed to keep a surprisingly high profile for a coach toiling in Norway and second-tier French football.

Whatever Swansea fans might think of him now, he will - like any coach - ultimately be judged on his results. Get the Swans back to safety and he should be fine.

And for Swansea fans concerned that Bradley does not seem to be the sort of innovative tactician who might take the Premier League by storm, perhaps there is some solace to be found from the new coach’s days with the MetroStars in MLS. He’s inventive when he has to be, as anyone familiar with the story of Cheatin’ Bob can tell you.