Can Bob Bradley Succeed as Le Havre Manager?


Reports out of France, Norway, and now the US have indicated that Bob Bradley will take over French Ligue 2 side Le Havre as manager. The former United States Men’s National Team coach just recently finished a miracle season at Stabaek in Norway, guiding the club to Europa League qualification; an impressive feat considering the club was barely  surviving relegation when he arrived in early 2014.

Under Bradley, the club finished a remarkable third in the Tippeligaen this season, qualifying for the Europa League. Throughout the season Bradley had been linked to openings ranging from Aston Villa and Molde, even the Denmark National Team, but with nothing coming to fruition.

For the 57 year-old manager who prides himself on the small details that can win matches, it was only a matter of time before he made the next step to a bigger stage in Europe. Bob Bradley has already accomplished more than what anyone could have imagined for an American coach in Europe, and that is even coming off an astounding international management career with the US and Egypt.

However, a new challenge awaits in France. Ligue 2 is a step up from the Tippeligaen, because promotion is to one of the top divisions in European football, Ligue 1. Teams such as Paris Saint Germain, Marseilles, Monaco, and Lyon all play in Ligue 1. World class players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Moutinho, and Thiago Silva are also in Ligue 1. It takes a good, no, a great manager to compete with some of the world’s best in the French top flight.

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Can Bob Bradley, the man who started his professional coaching career in the infancy of MLS, compete with some of the world’s best in France? He has performed borderline miracles on the world’s biggest stage with the US and Egypt (although the Egyptians missed out on the World Cup), and has garnered praise for his work in Norway. However, this is brand new for Bradley, football culture in France is much different than that of Norway. The domestic season in France follows the usual early August-May calendar, unlike the Norwegian season which is very similar to MLS.

Bob Bradley has a very tactical managerial style, similar to Jose Mourinho in a sense. His teams have the ability to defend well and counter when needed; it is not parking the bus, but instead a solid way to play defensive football. Bradley’s attention to detail is unparalleled by many in the game, and that has often been the difference that allowed his teams to outperform expectations.

This Le Havre side have an excellent chance of promotion as they currently sit fourth in Ligue 2 (the top two teams earn promotion to Ligue 1). Bob Bradley could be the first American to manage in a major European top flight manager if he continues to work the wonders he did with Stabaek, one thing is sure, this will be a challenge unlike any other for the American, but if anyone can defy expectations, its Bob Bradley.