Tickle v. Tackle Special Edition: Bob's Your Uncle

So, the interim tag has been removed and Bob Bradley is your new US Men's National Team coach. To commemorate the occasion, Fullback is going to go split-personality for this special edition of TvT as we take a look at the ramifications of Bradley's appointment.

Tickle: Bradley has a proven track record as a club manager, excelling particularly in building a team and judging young talent. Bingo! As the USMNT transitions from the Reyna/Keller/McBride generation of players, the US needs a coach that can assess the talent available and build a successful team with that talent. To my mind, this is Bradley's best quality and his familiarity with both MLS and the US player pool in general will stand him in good stead.

Tackle: That said, he's a novice at the international level and does not have relationships with the Euro clubs where our best players ply their trade. The best part about the timing of this appointment is that, with two major international competitions this summer, we'll get a chance to see what Bob can do on the global stage. If he falls flat on his face, there's still time to bring in somebody else before qualifying.

Tickle: Bradley is a "native" manager and more of a "soccer-guy" than the Bruce. As the program expands, I think it's important to improve the level of the US manager as well as the US player. Coaching jobs at larger Euro, Mexican, or South American clubs would help expand the pool of talented American managers, but that's unlikely to happen anytime soon. In the interim, giving the best and brightest of US coaches a shot at the national gig is the best way to season them.

Tackle: That said, experience and different styles/points of view are important to expand the capabilities of the program as well. The challenge would be in finding an experienced manager with the flexibility to adapt to the strange beast that is US Soccer. The most important thing for the head honchos to figure out will be the balance between holding coaches accountable and giving them enough of a chance to fashion a team - not always the easiest task on the international stage, which presents itself in fits and starts and at a wide variety of levels of both talent and pressure.

Tickle: Bob is quiet and reasonable where the Bruce was brash and outspoken. Bob has always struck me as a thinking manager in a similar vein to Reading's Steve Coppell, who I have a massive amount of respect for.

Tackle: But can he handle the pressure-cooker? Bradley did well for Chicago and Chivas, two clubs were the expectations and pressure were not quite as high as he faced in New York. Does his failure with the Metrostars reflect poorly on his ability to handle the high-pressure job, or does it owe more to having Lalas breathing down his neck and the momentum of years of failure that have poisoned the club?

Final Analysis: All things considered, giving Bradley the full job at this point in time was the best US Soccer could do. He's been working with the team for months, knows the US players, and needed to have the interim tag off in order to fully focus on this summer's busy schedule. Having been given the full job, Bradley can play a little less conservatively and really give it a go in two major tournaments. If he fails, you've got time to bring in new blood before qualifiers for WC 2010 kick into high gear. Go on Bob, build us a winner!

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