Why former USA boss Bob Bradley would be the perfect manager for Leicester City

Leicester City

The 57-year-old American is currently defying media predictions with Stabaek in the Norwegian top-flight.

With Leicester City suddenly in the market for new manager after the shock sacking of Nigel Pearson, one ideal candidate for the job is a man currently working miracles in Norway.

In January 2014, former US national team head coach Bob Bradley took over top-flight newcomers Stabaek and, in his first season in charge, defied all predictions in leading the relegation favourites to a comfortable mid-table finish.

Forced to work with one of the lowest budgets in the league, the cash-strapped club were once again tipped for the drop going into the 2015 campaign but, with 14 games gone, their results have been nothing short of astonishing.

After an early-season run of six straight shutout victories, Bradley’s side sit just three points behind league leaders Rosenborg in second place in the table, having amassed nine wins, three draws and two defeats, and show no signs of slowing down at this point.

Just three years removed from a financial crisis that saw the once-thriving club fighting to stay afloat, nobody expected them to be back competing with the Tippeligaen’s elite so quickly, and Bradley’s role in that rapid rise has already led to rumours of a move elsewhere.

Both Danish side Aalborg BK and Swedish giants IFK Goteborg were named as possible destinations in the winter [MLSSoccer.com] but, while either club would have been a step up, there is no reason to believe that the man dubbed "Byggmester Bob" – or “Bob the Builder” in English – should not be aiming much higher.

Bradley has in fact been linked with plenty of top English clubs in the past, including Aston Villa, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion [h/t MLSsoccer.com], and was even the bookies' favourite to take over the claret and blues back in August 2010 following Martin O’Neill’s resignation.

The then-USA boss later ruled himself out of the running after agreeing to a contract extension with the States but, having now proven his managerial credentials in Europe, now could be the perfect time for him to make the jump to the Premier League.

Speaking on his future last month in an interview with MLSSoccer.com, the New Jersey-native said: “It’s the question I get asked more than any. I laugh a little bit because when I was in Egypt [managing the national team], everyday virtually it was, ‘Why are you still here?’ When I first got to Stabaek, the question was, ‘Why did you come here?’ And now the question is, ‘When are you leaving?’

“There’s no answer,” he added. “As much as the hope is that somebody might notice and there might be a next challenge along the way, you can’t sit around and wait for phone calls. I signed a two-year contract. It was a good project and the plan was always that we would try to show people the football we could put together.

“Honestly, for myself, it was to come here and show people my work again and to prove myself. To be someone that maybe when scouts show up here, the word gets back to their clubs and then who knows, somebody thinks it fits with what they need.”

Bradley’s time at Stabaek is not the only thing going in his favour, though: his track record from college soccer through to his time with the Egypt national team is largely without blemish.

As well as guiding the Chicago Fire to the MLS Cup title in 1998, the former Metrostars and Chivas USA boss achieved various milestones with the USA from 2007, leading his side to the 2010 World Cup’s last-16 as group winners over England, the 2007 Gold Cup title and the 2009 Confederations Cup final.

Relieved of his duties following the 2011 Gold Cup final defeat to Mexico, he then moved on to manage Egypt and, in the midst of widespread political unrest, guided the Pharaohs to maximum points in their first six qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup.

Defeat to Ghana in the third-round playoffs ended both their hopes of making it to Brazil and his tenure but, given the conditions he was forced to work under, few regard his two-year reign as a failure.

Some fans and media never truly warmed to Bradley during his stint with the US – largely due to his refusal to pander to the press – but opinion has steadily shifted over time as more have come to appreciate what a talented coaching brain he possesses.

He is certainly not a glamorous name in wider footballing terms but, for a club like Leicester who are looking to stabilise themselves in the Premier League, he offers just about everything they should be looking for.

A meticulous planner, who has shown that he can not only manage big egos but also get the best out of an average line-up, Bradley has continued to adapt his coaching methods over the years and, in the process, left a lasting impression on whoever he has worked with.

Barcelona legend Hristo Stoichkov, who both played and coached under him in Chicago, told ESPN FC in May: "I don't like to compare coaches or teams but it was a fantastic experience. He was a very competent, very prepared coach.

"Bob Bradley was first of all a coach, then a friend, and he was like a father to the players. They learned football from him, he gave them confidence. He showed them, he explained things to them. I think there are very few coaches who work like Bob Bradley. In the game now, the technical and video aspects are becoming more advanced and, even then, he was very prepared. He knew all about the opposing team and how each player needed to train."

Endorsements like Stoichkov’s can be found all over the place and, if Leicester want to make a smart, outside-the-box hire, then it is certainly one they should listen to while drawing up their list of potential candidates.

For whatever reason, there seems to be a stigma surrounding American coaches across the other side of the Atlantic but, having stormed to success with unfancied Stabaek, Bradley is a trailblazer who is letting his results do the talking.

Whether that will be enough for Leicester to sit up and take notice remains to be seen but, regardless, it should not be long before he is managing in a top European league.

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