Bob Bradley “doesn’t have anything to prove” on his return to management with Los Angeles FC, with the man key to his MLS return believing anti-American prejudice was partly to blame for his struggles at Swansea City.
Tuesday marked a year to the day since the Welsh side sacked Francesco Guidolin and made Bradley the first American to manage in the Premier League. However, Bradley’s dream move lasted just 11 games and 85 days as Swansea’s poor form led to another abrupt change.
It was a chastening experience that has left Bradley a figure of fun in the UK, but John Thorrington, LAFC executive vice president of soccer operations, believes such talk is laughable.
The former midfielder knows all about the uphill battle for acceptance that Americans can face in the UK, and said he believes the vastly experienced Bradley will prove his capabilities with the new MLS club.
“Look, I lived that as a player,” said Thorrington, who came through the youth system at Manchester United before playing for Huddersfield and Grimsby.
“When you come as an American into a UK locker room, you have to prove yourself doubly so. I think Bob accepted that challenge and I am not one of these people who typecast him based on results of 10 games, but rather his body of work.
“I know the challenge he was facing there — not as a coach, but certainly feeling. I mean, American coaches are where U.S. players were 20 years ago.
“I think now, over time, there is a more healthy level of respect and they’re seen objectively, et cetera, and I don’t think I want to paint a sob story, nor would Bob.
“But, for me, if you know Bob, he doesn’t have anything to prove. It is just the way he is — he is incredibly competitive, he is incredibly driven, so I don’t think that was a necessary variable to lead him to be someone who we know will put his all into this project. That would have happened regardless.”
Whatever his standing in the UK, Bradley’s appointment represents something of a coup for LAFC ahead of their inaugural season kicking off early next year.
Working in MLS for the first time since his time in charge of now-defunct Chivas USA, another LA-based club, Bradley ticked all the right boxes for a new club with bold ideas.
“The way we started the coaching decision-making process was we listed the characteristics we wanted in a coach, sort of name blind,” Thorrington said in Press Association interview.
“We didn’t look at a candidate and then fill in the characteristics, we did it the other way around — and Bob ticks a lot of boxes in terms of what we want to be as a club.
“He has a rare combination of domestic and global experience and expertise, which fits what we want to be as a team and what we are as a club.
“He’s developed young players, he’s developed young professional players, he’s brought young players through at various places he’s been.
“You look at Mohamed Salah at Liverpool as an example of a guy that Bob has really influenced, so his reach is very global.
“He developed a lot of coaches, which we also think is a good indication of the type of man he is.
“You know, a lot of his values and principles align with what we’re all about.”