Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This Bradley to Villa thing is embarrassing

Let's get right into it: as an Aston Villa supporter, I don't want Bob Bradley near my club. Not because I think he couldn't be an effectual manager, but Bradley doesn't come from a European professional set-up. He's true-blue NCAA collegiate, he's perfect for MLS, why try to jam your fingers in the English top flight machinery and stick him in? You're putting a lot of lives at risk.

This is what upsets me about my neighbours to the south on occasion (outside of the right-wing blogosphere like antics of some over at BS); their advocacy on behalf of professional clubs with their own unique history and own unique supporters to forward the standing of their countrymen and women in the world. To say something completely outrageous, they way some are talking about crowing in Bradley at Villa strikes me as what the French might call l'imp√©rialisme culturel. 

EPL Talk this morning provides a pretty good example. The Gaffer writes:
The question of whether Bob Bradley is ready for a Premier League management position is an intriguing one. If he was ever given the chance, Aston Villa would be the ideal opportunity. The team already has a few American players (Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj). Plus, the club is owned by Lerner, an American. So if Bradley stepped into the position, the anti-Americanism that was felt at Old Trafford and Anfield, would not be a factor.
So, in the polyglot Premier League, like-foreign players would work better under a manager and owner from their own nation? This makes no sense, and there are no solid examples to back this claim. Roman Abramovich sure as hell wasn't going to pack his club with Russian players and a Russian manager because titles are won when everyone's singing the old Soviet anthem over a nice bottle of Stolichnaya in the change-room. The great equalizer is professional football is measured in pounds, not in passports.

But for some reason, when it comes to Americans, everybody assumes like works best with like. That's why the English bookies went haywire over Bradley when MON departed. It's a sort of covert anti-Americanism. "Oy," says the drunk punter at the pub. "They should get in that USA manager bloke, Bobby Bradley, for Villa. Lerner and 'im, they'd be peas in a pod talking about hamburgers and the Kardashian sisters, innit? And they've got a Yank keeper too." It's stupid and insulting to Randy Lerner and Bradley and to Americans at large to insinuate they work better "with their own kind." And the so-called anti-Americanism at Old Trafford and Anfield came because the people that own Manchester United and Liverpool are a bunch of incompetent shysters. The fact they were American just allowed everyone to use the word "Yanks," which both Brits and Canadians love to use for some reason.

I understand, America; you just want to prove to the English that Americans can manage European professional clubs. Fine. But don't feign having the best interests of Aston Villa—a club I and others have long supported before you in your Man U and Liverpool jerseys got round to remembering it existed—at heart. You didn't see me burning a Deportivo La Coruna shirt when they didn't want Julian de Guzman anymore. I don't give a shit when people ignore Canadian soccer because we haven't exactly helped our own cause. Pushing Bradley onto Villa—it's embarrassing. Just keep your heads down, keep working at it, and it will happen. In its own good time.

EDIT: As per a valued commenter below, I should clarify that obviously not ALL American soccer people, USMNT boosters or no, are guilty of Bradley pushing. Any and all use of massive sweeping generalizations on this blog tend to be rhetorical in nature...


Brian said...

Is there really no evidence that players work better with managers from their own nation? That's a real question, not an attack on your larger point --- it would be interesting to look at, say, the Henry/Vieira/Pires/Wiltord/Wenger Arsenal and Torres/Xabi/Reina/Riera/Benitez Liverpool from a national-identity perspective to see if there's anything there.

Even if there is, obviously, it's hard to imagine Eric Lichaj suddenly going all-world just because Bob Bradley was his manager.

Haystack said...

Agree. No doubt American managers will arrive in EPL some day and will be successful just like European managers have already. However Villa were the prototype for that with Dr Jo and look how that turned out.

chillo said...

great post Richard, like the "reverse anti americanism" theory, & agree totally, we have been here before with Venglos, & that went well, if we need an experimental untried boss we have Kevin Mac, but now is not the time, but also not the time for the same, tired old money chasers that are rolled out time after time, Hitzfeld seems a good call to me. anyway I will have to read up on Canadian football as there seems a gap in my knowledge!! great post...Villa till I die...


Richard Whittall said...

I think like nationalities can have a positive effect if it means a manager has extensive experience with certain players. You can make that case both for Benitez and Wenger's player selection. And certainly playing together on a national team can help a club, and vice versa, as in Barca/Spain. But that seems more an accident of personal experience than some ineffable national characteristics shared between people.

As you point out, the Villa/USA thing is soooo tenuous as it is, this just smacks of opportunism on behalf of some USMNT boosters...

Brian said...

Exactly. I mean, what's the connection even supposed to be? It's two goalkeepers and a guy who played for Leyton Orient last season, or am I forgetting somebody?

Jason Davis said...

That's a big ol' brush you got there, Richard.

Richard Whittall said...

Heh, yeah, probably overstepped my rhetorical bounds...but you know what I mean.

Jason Davis said...

I know where it comes from, so I don't take offense. And I do think anyone commenting on a club that's not there own risks overstepping; but I also think it's hard to fault USMNT fans for latching onto the slightest bit of hope. We're an insecure bunch, and even those that don't like Bradley understand the degree of glass ceiling-breaking Bradley to Villa would mean.

That said, I don't think it will happen nor do I think it should happen from a Villa standpoint (and I've said as much from my booster's perch). But that doesn't mean I'm not rooting for it to.

Eric said...

Richard -

My thought on the process is this -
I know and you know exactly what the results will be with Sven or Jol...about the same as they were with MON.

With Bradley - I don't know. That could be "I don't know" good or "I don't know" bad. But hiring a guy to keep us treading water in the Europa league is of no long-term benefit to the club...unless we're just biding our time until the guy to get us into the top 4 comes available (Moyes, maybe?)

In my opinion, though, he has the temperament for the job...and he has the ability to inspire his teams to fight back (see Slovenia, Egypt in Confed Cup, several qualifiers).

You're going to fall behind in games...everyone does...getting your team to overcome that is a skill I've seen only in guys like Mourinho, Sir Alex...and a bit in Hughes and Hodgson.

Again - I don't know what Bob would do there - I just know that he has the make-up to do well. I also know I'd give him to Fulham for Hughes!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with your above post. I don't think Bradley has the experience to manage Villa in the Prem, FA Cup and EUROPA. It's a tall order for someone who has done all his work in the USA.

This is a bit off-topic, but do you know a pub in Toronto that plays Villa's games? I only know one other Villa fan in Toronto so this is a surprise to see there's more out there!

Anonymous said...

How dare that uppity American dream big and campaign for the AV job?

Nevermind that it could all be a ploy to get an extension with the USMT along with a pay raise, no ... nobody is above negotiating in public by making it appear they have other options. Right?

But even if he wants the job, so what?

You're saying he should stick to MLS and be a good little boy? England is no place for an American manager?

What a short sighted and frankly stupid comment. Maybe we should ban Italia, French and Scottish managers while we're at it. I mean I'm sure there's a qualified national that could take do the job if given a chance, right?

Maybe we should also kick that Englishman out who moved on to Wolfsburg ..... who the hell does he think he is trying to find success in Europe.

Personally I think Bradley should look for a job in the Championship first, but if he gets a chance at the job - why on earth should he turn it down?

But your comment that he's an NCAA'r who belongs in MLS is a complete joke.

Starting11 said...

Someone should fit Sunil Gulati and the rest of the carnies at U.S. Soccer with Disney paraphenalia; this is officially a Mickey Mouse organization!

Anonymous said...

Bob Bradley needs to go to England. To get away from the 15 million pissed off Latinos in the US.

For the first time in Decades, the US national soccer does not start any Latinos. The likes of Rab Ramos and Claudio Reyna usually dominate the US team, especially in the offensive half of the field.

The footballing community in the US has a significant Latino presence. Some say as much as 35% of all amateur soccer players in the US are of Latino/Hispanic backgrounds.

As a big US footy fan, I hate the Bradley years. He is going to be terrible for US footy in the long run.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous,

Many people in the Hispanic soccer community are leveling charges of racism and xenophobia against Bob Bradley. Including several Hispanic players who have quit on him.

He's no good. He's a good college coach, not great. He never won any kind of major tournament and never will. Period!!!

I feel sorry for Villa fans who are being threatened by this move.