Foreign Coaching Opportunity Best Choice for Bob Bradley's Development

Ben TrianaFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2010

RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 26: Bob Bradley, head coach of the United States looks dejected during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between USA and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 26, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

As talks between Bob Bradley and U.S. Soccer will continue this week, many questions still remain unanswered.

Will his contract be renewed in December? Will he be released? Will he resign (unlikely)? Will a European team overlook its prejudice against American coaches and hire Bob Bradley to a high-profile position?

At least one premier league club sits without a long-term replacement, so Bob Bradley's move to a European market remains possible.

For Bradley, a move overseas might be a dream he shares with most of his American players.

Even though he may seem cool and collected in front of the cameras, secretly Bradley should be on his knees praying a European club comes calling. It's exactly what he needs to continue his development.

In almost all major sports around the world, the label manager has taken on the definition used in business.

The head coach acts as a symbol, implementing the philosophy and leading by example. In essence, he manages a vast array of assistant coaches, program managers, experts, special consultants, and scouts.

With the amount of money invested in the modern game, this level of sophistication is needed.

It also means that few decisions are made by one man, unless, of course, the manager has a specialty or fondness for a certain area of the game, like Jose Mourinho relishing the creation of gameday tactics and preparation.

But if the manager doesn't have an aptitude for a certain subset, it's not the end of the world. With so many experts around, there's bound to be someone intelligent to help out if he's in a real bind.

For example, when was the last time Sir Alex Ferguson decided on a player, team selection, or tactics on his own?

No manager should make decisions on an island anyway.

There are too many resources and too much at stake for such a high pressure position.

In the end, it should be the manager's decision, reflecting his personal philosophy and character, but a few helpful recommendations can turn a rough outline into a successful game-plan.

Overall, the head coach's most difficult undertaking should be separating the good advice from the white noise (a task much tougher than many realize).

For all of these reasons, a move to a major club could really benefit Bob Bradley. Ideally, he'll have educated, intelligent, individuals with the most sophisticated training, technology, and practices at his disposal.

Only the most stubborn of managers couldn't develop their craft in such a situation.

And Bradley's shown that he's somewhat open to change.

During the World Cup, he was willing to fix his mistakes with substitutions and changes in tactics.

While most of his changes were in-game, now he'll have the coaches and information around him to prepare, setting up a stronger starting lineup and proper tactics.

Part of Bradley's struggles may have been a result of his clout within the American program. How many coaches had any influence on Bradley's decisions? Could any assistant openly challenge him?

Once Peter Nowak left to coach the Philadelphia Union in the MLS, there may not have been another strong soccer personality giving in order to exchange ideas.

This won't be the case in Europe.

The real question is whether Aston Villa is the right fit for someone in Bradley's position.

Such a high profile opportunity with all of its expectations and pressures, may not be the best fit. There's little room for failure, the learning curve will be steep, and patience will be at a minimum.

There's a lot more riding on Bradley's decision than just winning, losing, and keeping a job or not.

He may not have another opportunity overseas. Considering Europe's prejudice against American coaches, if he fails, another offer to a Yankee manager may not come about for another 20 years.

Bradley has the qualities to be the true definition of the word manager.

His demeanor appeals to players.

He's able to sell his message and have athletes buy into the team philosophy. In an age where even Jose Mourinho admits that cultivating relationships with the players might be the most important aspect of coaching, Bradley has the skills.

He's disciplined and consistent. He's not a disaster in front of the media. Problems will most likely remain behind closed doors.

Because of this, he has the recipe for success at the top position.

Bradley may not have a specialty as far as coaching is concerned, but that should be taken care of by the people around him. In the right situation (key words: right situation), Bradley could excel.

Besides, he can always come home. Bruce Arena still gets work in the United States.

As America's national team head coach goes into his contract talks with Sunil Gulati and the USSF, he might want to think about what is best for his career.

Could he be more successful overseas? Would he learn more? Will this opportunity come around again?

It may be in his best interest to look elsewhere for his future.


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