Connect with us


Why Fans Need to Give Fabio Capello and Bob Bradley A Break

Photo by seriouslysilly

With England’s depressing draw and the United States’ drubbing at the hands of Spain, the detractors for both managers have come out in full force once again. Fabio Capello has long been the target of the English media ever since the World Cup last summer, and Bob Bradley has always divided opinion amongst soccer fans in the US. The problem that most fans of these two sides, as well as fans of most other international sides, have is their belief that a manager for an international side works in the same way as a club manager.

To begin with, international managers do not have a great amount of leeway in picking their side. Capello can’t buy or sell players; he can merely decide the 23 players he wants to call in from a list of English footballers. Occasionally players retire from international football, or younger players grow old enough to contribute, but over the course of Capello’s tenure, the number of players he realistically can choose from is around 40.

In addition to the limited pool of players an international coach can count on, the type of players available is also a problem. An international coach can’t spend an off-season working on a position switch, or refining a player’s technique on holding the ball with his back to goal. Managers have to take players as they are, more or less. Occasionally players will play different positions for club and country, but this is often met with mixed results, and isn’t something a coach can count on. Bob Bradley has had numerous problems in the center midfield because he is trying to force one of his three defensive midfielders into a more attacking role, and none of them are able to execute the role efficiently.

Along with the type of players available, the depth and quality of players at a position can also hamper an international manager. One of most US fan’s favorite past times is to criticize whoever Bob Bradley decides to start at left back, often Jonathan Bornstein being the target of this ire. Fans often forget that Bornstein is currently the best option at left back for the US in most situations. Until a natural left back develops, or a right back becomes comfortable playing on the opposite side of the pitch, there isn’t a lot Americans can do other than hope that Bornstein doesn’t make any mistakes. The US also has problems up top with a lack of any consistent goal scoring threat since Brian McBride retired from international duty several years ago.

A final problem faced by managers is the question of selecting the best 23 players for the squad, or selecting the best players to play in a specific formation. There are advocates on both sides of the issue, and for some managers it ends up being their downfall. No England manager has ever been able to successfully fit Gerrard and Lampard into the same midfield, and numerous games may have been lost because of it. Bob Bradley spent the early part of his tenure trying to find the perfect way to fit Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey into the squad to best effect, and no one doubts they are the two most talented American internationals right now.

In the end while managers are ultimately the ones who will be judged on their sides performance, it will do well for fans to temper expectations and realize that there is only so much an international manager can do to improve his squad. A lot of it is left up to the players on the pitch.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. Kick-Ass

    June 6, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Come on! I can’t belive that at this point in time no one can see the fact that Bob Bradley is not the coach to take the USA to the next level. BB has nothing new to offer and the worst thing is that he knows it and refuses to resign! He prefers to take the USMNT down the drain with him. He don’t have an idea about strategy and how to put a team together. Everytime is the same story, we get blown away or we fall behind and have to settle for a tie. Come on Bob, please show your love for the USMNT and resign and let someone else take over.

    • Sgc

      June 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      The dispute is whether there is any such thing as ‘the coach to take the USA to the next level.’ I’m more interested in the player(s) to take the USA there.

  2. Sgc

    June 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    There’s one notable difference between Bradley and Capello. Bradley is probably a little ‘underpaid’ in terms of what a middling-NT coach might make, where Capello is certainly overpaid compared to the coaches of England’s peer-competitors.

    Capello hurts England more than Bradley hurts the US because he’s sucking up resources that could be more productively spent. In the US, the problem is that we either do not have the resources or are unwilling to spend them, (it’s about 75/25 the former), and in any case if we did have them the head coach should not be the first priority necessarily–lest we become England.

  3. Chris

    June 6, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    That may be changing in the future with the elite kids opting out of playing HS soccer to join MLS academies. Read this great article it may interest you

    • actually

      June 8, 2011 at 12:53 am

      Having college soccer, alongside good MLS academies, will be an advantage because there will be a place for development for guys who start the sport late or aren’t good enough to go pro at 18. Guys like that disappear from the game in Europe.

  4. Thomas

    June 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Highschool soccer actually probably hampers the developement.

    Most club seasons break for the HS season, and about 4 months of the year is “wasted” with players playing on inferior teams, with often inferior coaching to superior club soccer.

    One issue is the cost…club and travel soccer is huge financial undertaking and it makes it difficult for underpriveladged kids to play.

    If you look at the USMNT and England, you have to say there’s a glaring lack of creative/technical players. Though I’d give England the edge having at least a few truly world class players to select.

    I think Donovan finally has come into his own, but the fact that he refuses to bight the bullet and play in a top European league has hampered his career.

    MLS continues to toot its own horn, and while the quality has improved greatly, it’s still nowhere near a top league.

    Buddle, for instnace, scores tons of goals in MLS, and is largely ineffective internationally.

    Bradley, Holden, Dempsey, coincidence they are among the best on the team (also probably why they do play in foreign leagues)..but Dempsey’s developement has been unreal at Fulham.

    • well

      June 8, 2011 at 12:49 am

      Leo Messi is one of the best, if not the best, club goalscorers, yet he scored 3 fewer goals at the 2010 World Cup than LD. Edson Buddle scores .33 goals per game internationally, Messi scores .29.

      What does this have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing.

  5. hank

    June 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Bob Bradley has produced fairly strong results for the USMT:
    + Gold Cup Winners
    + 2nd Place in the Confederations Cup
    + Round of 16 at the World Cup

    I’m not saying he should receive a medal, but I think some people live in a fantasy world where we could have gone to the finals of the world cup, if only Santa Claus had been the coach.

    My favorite complaints:
    + Why didn’t he play . Jose Torres is the most frequent name. Ignoring the fact the player in question has played and been found wanting in the past.
    + Why does Michael Bradley get an automatic starting spot? (Even though Michael Bradley has repeatedly earned his sport).
    + His formation is too defensive. Ignoring that this suits the strengths of his talent pool.

    I think Mr.Prodg comment above has to be the best example of self-delusion:
    “Im not trying to hate or anything but i have played against some of the US players in high school and they were a whole lot better than they are now…and i wonder why???”
    (playing Spain being an equivalent test to playing a high-school team)

    • well

      June 8, 2011 at 12:42 am

      Getting out of the group stage at the World Cup should be the minimum expectation not an exciting achievement.

      Their record at the Confed Cup was 2-4, albeit two losses to Brazil is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when you beat the great and powerful Spain. But then again they choked away a 2 goal halftime lead against Brazil in the final.

      The US should always reach the final of the Gold Cup unless somehow they end up facing Mexico in the semifinals, and even then it’s a toss-up.

      • Dave C

        June 8, 2011 at 9:28 am

        Getting out of the group stage at the World Cup should be the minimum expectation not an exciting achievement.

        To be honest, I disagree with this. International football is so marginal at the top level (especially in the “middle” rank of teams from about the 8th or 10th best in the world down to the 20th or so), that only the really top teams (i.e. the seeds in each group) should consider the 2nd round as a minimum expectation.

        Slovakia may have been the obvious minnows of our 2010 WC group, but the other 3 teams competing for two spots were pretty close, so getting out of the group was a good result for the US.

        I found this kind of thinking (“The US should always get out of the 1st round”) particularly naive at the 2006 WC when the US was in the same group as Italy, Czech Republic and Ghana. Anyone with any knowledge of football would probably think that the US would have needed a miracle to get 2nd in that group (even third out of 4 might have been a surprise achievement). But Arena got pilloried by many in the US sports media for getting knocked out early. I even heard pundits on sports channels saying “Well we made the QF’s in 2002, so we should have at least made the Semi Finals in 2006“.

  6. Lyle

    June 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I agree with the general principles of this article.

  7. Chris

    June 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Gaffer I don’ t agree with you that Bradley needs a break.

    It is glaring that Bob Bradley isn’t the coach that will take the USMNT forward. He showed that against Spain on Saturday! He does not know how to cultivate young talent and give them the proper experience needed to succeed at the national level.

    Bradley started a team of unproven talent Saturday setting them up for failure. He did the Youth a disservice not playing some senior players like Michael Bradley and Dempsey!

    Juan Agudelo who could have built some confidence against Spain was reduced to receiving long balls with his back to the goal. The Jones and Edu combination does not work! I can continue to pick apart the issues from the game but I won’t. My question to you Gaffer is how do you let a National coach off the hook when he only starts a team with two players (Onyewu and Howard) with the proper experience needed to start against Spain?

    • Chris

      June 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      Sorry just realized this was not the Gaffers Article I pose that question to Brian Lewis.

      • Brian

        June 6, 2011 at 1:09 pm

        Haha no problem Chris,

        I think the Spain game was a mistake to schedule to begin with. Bradley was never going to play some of the stalwarts with the Gold Cup starting midweek.
        Also Bradley can’t be responsible for cultivating talent. My point is that he basically has to take what he is given, and try to form a team from that, he only gets a few practices at a time to work with players, so it is more about them becoming familiar than working on technique.

        • Chris

          June 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm

          I agree that the Spain game should not have been scheduled especially right before the Gold Cup, but you know what it was. Rather then playing stalwarts such as Dempsey, Cherundolo, and Michael Bradley in the second half give them the chance to play in the first half with the younger players. We never got to see what Agudelo could do with a decent ball from Michael Bradley. We never got to see how Tim Ream could defend without Silva tearing apart the right side of the defense.

          Bradley may not be in charge of cultivating the talent that feeds the national team but he has a duty as a national coach to prepare young players for the international stage. How better to do that then against the number one team in the world?

          Bradley has to “take what he is given” and teach! He is a leader and good leaders teach. The only thing he taught anyone Saturday is that he doesn’t take the opportunities given to better his team. Bradley should not get a pass or have excuses created for him. I don’t go to work and produce sloppy labor saying I only work with what I have. I would get fired! Why is Bob Bradley exempt from having standards because of a game should not have been scheduled?

  8. Jon

    June 6, 2011 at 11:00 am

    The USA’s issue is with the players they push and their style of play. It’s very similar to the English style…and we’ve seen how well that has worked since 1968.

    The USMNT is built off finding the best athletes and having them pump out a very high workrate. You can’t watch the USMNT and tell me there’s a whole lot of technical skill to be found.

    That won’t change until the soccer infrastructure in this country catches up. Still, the majority of these players come out of the college ranks after playing Elite/Select soccer as a youth. There’s some decent academies starting to get going (FC Dallas, Chivas USA, RBNY, etc.), but it will probably take another generation to really have an impact.

    Bob Bradley is not the man who will lead the USMNT into a visually pleasing, technically sound team. But he’s not going anywhere anytime soon…

    • Mr.Prodg

      June 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

      Im not trying to hate or anything but i have played against some of the US players in high school and they were a whole lot better than they are now…and i wonder why???

      • Jon

        June 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

        I don’t doubt that.

        However, my point is that at age 12-14, kids abroad are playing in academies run by premier clubs. Most of ours are just playing for their local HS, with a privileged few playing travel in the summer.

        The instruction doesn’t compare.

      • Dave C

        June 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm

        i have played against some of the US players in high school and they were a whole lot better than they are now

        You mean some of the current US players were better in highschool than they are now?? (Or am I just misunderstanding the statement).

        If that’s what you’re saying, then it’s ludicrous. How could any professional player have regressed from the age of high school? Since that point, they’ve had full time professional coaching to improve their skills, and their fitness and strength is undoubtedly higher than it was in high school. There is just no way a player could have got worse since high school.

        Are you sure that they didn’t just look “better” in high school because they were dominating games against weaker players, rather than competing against some of the best players in the world?

  9. Gillian

    June 6, 2011 at 10:53 am

    For the most part I agree with the sentiments in this post; however, I’d add that international managers don’t have the benefit of having their squads train and play together on a weekly basis. So, that plays into it as well. In a way, these disadvantages make achievement in international competitions even more meaningful.

  10. Tuttle

    June 6, 2011 at 10:45 am

    If you have three quality defensive midfielders, play a formation that uses them. If you lack speed on the defensive wings, play a formation that minimizes that weakness. If you have no true strikers, find a formation that maximizes your good attacking midfielders.

    Neither the 4-4-2 nor the 4-2-3-1 maximize our strengths and/or minimize our weaknesses. IMO the best bet for the USA is a 3-5-2 as well, but a different one than England would play. England can play the 3-5-2 attacking-style like Napoli does; pushing that central midfielder up as a trequartista. The USMNT would need to play it more defensively like Sampdoria does with the central midfielder playing more even with the holding midfielders as a regista.

    England has one big advantage here; Cabbage-man knows the 3-5-2. I don’t think Bradley would know one if it bit him on the ass.

  11. Jared

    June 6, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Donovan and Dempsey would be the two most talented US internationals if a monkey was picking the lineup. The credit for Dempsey being so good goes to Steve Nicol and the coaches at Fulham not Bob.

    I have a way to fix the problem of fitting 3 defensive mids into 3 slots. Try 4-2-3-1 and actually try it don’t just give it a 30 minute run like Bob has done. MB and Jones as the 2, Bedoya (would’ve been Feilhaber) Dempsey and Donovan as the 3.

    I’m also pretty sure that Bocanegra is a better option at left back than Bornstein. At least he won’t make the killer mistakes.

    The problem with the England team is that they all think they are world class because of their club success. Unfortunately for them, it’s the players around them for their club that make them look good.

    • Mr.Prodg

      June 6, 2011 at 10:44 am

      Also, its been claimed that the US have a good Academy but where are these players? They’re not lighting it up in the MLS or overseas so i’m wondering who’s coaching these players. Since 1994, the US federation have been working hard at producing some top class players but it hasn’t worked out. Freddy Adu, Bobby Convey, Demarcus Beasley could have been part of a good nucleus but they didn’t give those players enough time to develop.

      • Taylor

        June 6, 2011 at 11:33 am

        Talking about Adu, probably it’s going to be an interesting story.
        I believe he made mistakes when being drafted by the MLS instead of going to Europe to one of the Youth Academies (IIRC AC Milan, Mancheste United, Real Madrid and Barcelona were interested) to hone his skills.

      • Keith

        June 7, 2011 at 12:34 am

        Are you kidding? The US has more talent coming up then they’ve ever had.

        Defenders: Omar Gonzalez (22), Eric Lichaj (22), Tim Ream (23), TImothy Chandler (21), A.J. DeLaGarza (23), Zach Loyd (23), Anthony Wallace (22), Gale Agbossoumonde (19)
        Midfielders: Michael Bradley (23), Stuart Holden (25), Dax McCarty (24), Maurice Edu (24), Robbie Rogers (24), Brek Shea (21), Jose Torres (23), Alejandro Bedoya (24), Mikkel Diskerud (20), Perry Kitchen (20)
        Forwards: Charlie Davies (24), Juan Agudelo (18), Jozy Altidore (21), Teal Bunbury (21), Yevgeni Starikov (22)

        Go look at the US U-20 team and all the players that are already playing professionally (either in the US or abroad). This is so different from the past where few players turned pro before finishing college at the age of 22.

  12. Mr.Prodg

    June 6, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Bradley sucks. what has he won with the US? the Gold Cup? mght as well call it the US cup. He needs to figure out where to play Donovan because its either he’s a forward or attacking mid. Also, Dempsey needs to play in the middle and not up top. Altidore isn’t a good striker, Bradley needs to stop believing that guy is going to take him to the world cup finals. Not gonna happen.

    Capello’s problem is that he doesn’t know which formation to use. Rooney and Bent up top, have to play Lampard and Stevie G together but make sure there’s enough space between the 2 so they can move around freely. Ashley young, wilshere have to start. So the best bet for England is to go to a 3-5-2 which will bring the best out of the team offensively.

    • Dave C

      June 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      Bradley sucks. what has he won with the US? the Gold Cup?
      To be fair, what do you expect him to win – the World Cup? The Gold Cup is the only tournament that the US could ever dream of winning. Failure to win anything else hardly makes him a failure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in General

Translate »