There are reports coming from Norway on Thursday that former United States Men’s National Team manager Bob Bradley will be named as the new manager of Stabaek Fotball as early as Friday. With the hire, Bradley will become the first American coach to ever head up a team playing in a European First Division.
It is reported that Bradley had turned down offers to return to Major League Soccer in order to accept this position, which ultimately proves that Bradley just really wanted to coach in Europe. Honestly though, who could blame him? It doesn’t matter whether you are a player, coach or equipment manager, every soccer personnel’s dream is to ply their trade in Europe.
Bradley most recently had managed the Egypt National Team to the final round of African World Cup Qualifying before being taken apart by Ghana over two legs. Over his two years at the helm, he guided Egypt to 24 wins over 36 matches, which is even more incredible considering the political instability in the region and that the Egyptian Premier League ended its 2012-13 season early due to the violence.
Stabaek Fotball is returning the Norwegian Tippeligaen after a brief year in the Norwegian Second Division. The club is based in Baerum, which is located just outside of the capital city of Oslo. The club plays their home matches in the 7,000-seat Nadderud Stadion currently with hopes of moving back into their much newer 15,000-seat Telenor Arena, which they left due to financial concerns.
The club does have a history of qualifying for European competitions, which is not easy to do in Norway. The nation has one bid to the UEFA Champions League, which is earned by winning the Tippeligaen, and three bids to the UEFA Europa League, which goes to the second and third-placed Tippeligaen clubs as well as the Norwegian Cup winners.
Stabaek made their lone Champions League appearance in the 2009-10 competition, where they beat KF Tirana of Albania 5-1 on aggregate in the second qualifying round before falling to FC Copenhagen of Denmark 3-1 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.
A return to international competition will surely be expected of the club with a manager who has the experiences that Bradley does. He will have a nice mix of leadership and youth to work with.
Bradley will look for leadership from former Norwegian internationals Jon Inge Hoiland and Martin Andresen. Hoiland is a 36-year old center-back who returns after a three-year spell at giants Rosenborg. Andresen, also 36, is making a return to football after a four-year stint managing at Valerenga. Both of their experience will be very useful for the youth that makes up the rest of the squad.
The most exciting part for Bradley could be the three young players from the Ivory Coast who have made a big impact since signing with the club. 20-year old goalkeeper Sayouba Mande and forward Franck Boli, along with 19-year-old midfielder Luc Kassi will all look to impress during their next stint in the top division.