October 07, 2016

SWANSEA, Wales (AP) Bob Bradley is a reluctant pioneer.

He is filled with pride at becoming the Premier League's first American manager but aware his nationality brings preconceptions and myths about his credentials for the Swansea job.

''The American stuff I can cover in 30 seconds,'' the former U.S. national team coach said over-optimistically Friday at his Swansea presentation . ''Then I can push that out the door.''

As Bradley then gathered his thoughts, there was silence for several seconds in front of reporters in a modest hotel in the south Wales city. The 58-year-old knows Americans are still viewed by close-minded fans as novices in international soccer.

''With football in the United States, we have always understood we have to earn respect,'' Bradley said. ''When I was with the national team, every time we got a chance to play in Europe, the players and I would understand, `Today is one more day where we can show what the game is like in our country.' So in some ways this helps. I am proud what I have been able to do.

''This stuff about pioneer. I'm not an American manager. I'm a football manager.''

Football, rather than soccer. Bradley made a wise but unnecessary distinction in a country that lays claim to have invented the game but gets prickly about the term ''soccer'' - despite its origins.

''I'm pretty sure that the English came up with this thing `soccer,''' Bradley said, correcting a misconception to his English inquisitor.

''I like football much better. ... American football should have a different name, but I don't think that will happen.''

The erudite Bradley sensed what his audience wanted to hear.

''I may slip up occasionally and call the pitch, the field - sorry,'' he said. ''But I'm not going to say soccer, don't worry.''

He's certainly nothing like Ted Lasso, the flamboyant parody of a clueless American soccer coach created by NBC to promote its Premier League broadcasts , deploying U.S. sporting terminology alien to football.

''That's what we lived with on the US team,'' Bradley said.

''I don't think it's necessarily my job to take away your snobbery,'' Bradley added, engaging with reporters and expressing no sign of irritation.

Bradley left the French second-tier club Le Havre on Monday to take the Swansea job. Lifting Swansea away from the relegation zone would help Bradley win over doubters who hoped former Wales and Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs would replace Francesco Guidolin.

Having won only one of their opening seven league games, the Swans require an experienced manager. Bradley coached the U.S. from 2006 to 2011, including a trip to the 2010 World Cup. Giggs was manager for three games after being briefly elevated at Manchester United in 2014.

''I believe in my ability,'' Bradley said. ''People can write whatever they flippin' want.''

Such as writing that Bradley only got the job because Steve Kaplan, a minority owner and executive vice chairman of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, and Jason Levien, a part-owner of D.C. United, took control of Swansea in July.

''I don't think they would have got where they are with making decisions with their heart,'' Bradley said.

Reaching the Premier League was the long-term ambition for Bradley. A brother of former major league catcher Scott Bradley, Bob coached Chicago, New York and Chivas USA in Major League Soccer. He replaced Bruce Arena as national team coach in 2006, led the U.S. to a semifinal win over European champion Spain at the 2009 Confederations Cup and coached the U.S. to the second round of the 2010 World Cup.

One year later, the U.S. Soccer Federation fired him and hired Jurgen Klinsmann, which caused acrimony.

''When he did commentary on the 2010 World Cup, he was already jockeying for the job,'' Bradley said.

''I would never do that, plain and simple,'' he explained further away from the cameras in Swansea. ''I told him I thought it was wrong. I've no hard feelings.''

He coached Egypt's national team from 2011-13, broadening his international experience.

''In order to prove myself, I have taken jobs nobody else would take,'' he said. ''No big managers when I went to Egypt would have.''

Not when the nation was going through violent street protests and bloody security crackdowns during the Arab Spring uprising. The ''American Pharaoh'' - as he became known - gained admiration there by sticking with the job even when the disorder spread to football, with a deadly stadium riot killing 74 people.

''People asked why I stayed,'' Bradley recalled. ''But are you kidding? If you're a leader, you can't be the first out the door.''

He left Egypt after losing to Ghana in a playoff for a 2014 World Cup berth, then went to the edge of the Arctic Circle and helped the Norwegian club Stabaek qualify for the Europa League.

That earned him a move to France late last year, where Le Havre missed out on promotion to Ligue 1 last May on goal difference.

He takes charge of a team only out of the Premier League's relegation zone on goal difference. Thirty-one league games remain, starting at Arsenal on Oct. 15.

''I understand there are going to be skeptics,'' Bradley said, ''but I don't care.''


Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

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