Bob Bradley: Swansea owners didn't have the 'strength' to see plan through
Bob Bradley expressed disappointment at his firing as manager of Swansea City, but also said he felt that owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, as well as chairman Huw Jenkins, lost their nerve in sacking him just 85 days after being brought on board.
The Swans accumulated just eight points during Bradley's 11 games in charge. The run, combined with a four-point haul from the club's first seven games, leaves Swansea in 19th place, firmly in the relegation zone and ahead of last-placed Hull City on goal differential.
Bradley said he had just returned home from training on Tuesday when Jenkins summoned him to the team's academy for a meeting.
"As soon as I got the message I knew what was happening," Bradley said.
He added: "When Huw and I met, he just talked about the fact that [I] came into a tough situation, that there was at this point, such a negative atmosphere around the club and as a result felt they needed to make a change."
Bradley insisted he knew about the negativity surrounding Swansea, brought on in part by the sale of the club to Kaplan and Levien earlier this year. The Supporters' Trust, which owns 21 percent of the club, was neither consulted about the sale nor Bradley's hiring.
Bradley also said he had no illusions about the size of the task in terms of avoiding relegation. He had hoped to bolster the team during the upcoming January transfer window. But now he won't get that chance.
"We all understood that it was going to be hard work, and that we were going to need to go step by step, and that was going to include improving the team in January," Bradley said. "I'm disappointed that somehow, when a few games go against you, that all of a sudden all of those discussions and all of the ideas of what it was going to take to turn this around got pushed aside.
"I think people, they reacted to the fans, and didn't have the strength to see it through. That part I'm not happy about."
There's no denying that Swansea have had a poor run of results. Swansea's last three matches have witnessed heavy defeats to West Bromwich Albion (3-1), Middlesbrough (3-0), and West Ham United (4-1). The result against West Ham, the only one of the three to be played at home, was the fatal blow.
The atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium turned highly negative, with plenty of invective being directed at Bradley and Jenkins. The mood reached a crescendo early in the second half, when West Ham defender Winston Reid scored to make the game 2-0 in what would eventually be a 4-1 defeat.
"At that point, the emotion in the stadium is clear," Bradley said. "The supporters aren't happy, and in that moment the anger gets directed at me and at the chairman. Let's face it, that doesn't feel good, but that's part of football sometimes.
"What I think happened is now that made everybody nervous. When they talk about negativity and negative atmosphere, that loss and that feeling inside the Liberty that day meant that all the discussions and all the plans got thrown out the window, and somebody needed to go, and let's face it, the way that works is the first one that's out is the manager."
When asked if Reid's goal was the moment where he lost the trust of the owners and chairman, Bradley said: "It's not trust. That's not the right word. In that moment, they lose their nerve. I spoke very quickly to Jason Levien, I received a message from Steve Kaplan and both referenced something about 'unfair.'
"But you always tell your players that the game will challenge you in all sorts of ways. The game can be cruel. In order to have any chance you have to be strong. You have to believe in your work, you have to believe in how you do things as a group. It can't be thrown off track every time something goes against you."
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.