It is safe to say “Bonjour, Bob Bradley” as the former U.S. national team head coach is close to being confirmed as the new man in charge at Le Havre AC in France.
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Bradley, 57, is embarking on the next stage in his European adventure as this news comes on the same day Norwegian outfit Stabaek announced that Bradley would be leaving when his two-year deal runs out at the Tippeligaen club he has transformed from relegation candidates in 2014, when he took charge, to a guaranteed top-three finish in just their second season back in Norway’s top-flight in 2015.
A source has confirmed to ProSoccerTalk that Bradley is “highly likely” to sign a contract to manage Ligue 2 outfit Le Havre who are owned by American businessman Vincent Volpe after he bought the Normandy club in July. The deal is expected to be concluded shortly and earlier reports in Norway on Wednesday stated that Bradley had reached a verbal agreement to take over at Le Havre after his final game at Stabaek this Sunday.
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Le Havre have not had a permanent manager since September when Thierry Goudet was fired. Since then Christophe Revault has taken charge on an interim basis — they currently sit fourth in France’s second-tier, just six points off top spot after three-straight wins — but with a glistening new 25,000 capacity stadium and an ambitious, oil-rich owner from Texas, Le Havre seems like a club on the up as they seek promotion back to Ligue 1 after relegation to the second-tier in 2009.
In the past Les Ciel et Marine have produced several promising players through their academy with Jean-Alain Boumsong, Charles N'Zogbia and Paul Pogba to name a few coming through the ranks.
With the Norwegian season ending this weekend — Stabaek can finish in second place with a win and a Stromsgodset defeat but Bradley has already lead them to European qualification — and Le Havre doing just fine with their interim boss in charge for now, it seems like the right opportunity has arrived at the right time for Bradley. Yes, he is stepping down to the second-tier of a European league, but it is clear that France is a major soccer nation in Europe and if Bradley can steer a healthy looking Le Havre side back to Ligue 1, then an American coach will be in charge of a team in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
Bradley deserves this chance after a stunning two years at Stabaek.
After leading the USMNT to Gold Cup glory in 2007, the Confederations Cup final in 2009, the World Cup last 16 in 2010 and then being fired in 2011 following a defeat in the Gold Cup final, Bradley has admirably rebuilt his coaching career overseas as he came within a playoff game of taking the Egyptian national team to the 2014 World Cup amid huge unrest in the African nation and over the last 18 months has taken a tiny Norwegian team from relegation fodder to title contenders in Norway’s top-flight.
Now, his next adventure is set to see him battle on the Normandy coast to take Le Havre back to the big time.