An American Manager In The Premier League?

An American Werewolf in London?  About as likely as an American manager in the English Premier League….but why not?

The most likely candidate is Bruce Arena.  Arena is the most successful coach in US soccer history.  After capturing his 4th MLS championship on December 1st with his David Beckham and Robbie Keane led Los Angeles Galaxy (3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo), is it time for Arena to be given a chance in the Premier League?

A brief look at Arena’s successful career….

ŸBefore there was a professional league in the US Arena won 5 national championships at the University of Virginia in the early 1990’s where he mentored future Premier League players Claudio Reyna and John Harkes.

ŸJumping from the collegiate ranks, Arena coached DC United to 2 Major League Soccer titles in 1996 and 1997 – the first two titles ever in the nascent MLS (which began in 1996).

ŸIn 1998, Arena’s DC United captured the CONCACAF Champions Cup over Mexico’s Toluca – the first time an American club has captured that championship (and currently only the second time ever).  That same title-winning squad would go on and beat Brazilian side Vasco da Gama for the Interamerica Cup – the only American team ever to accomplish such a feat.  The Interamerica Cup was a competition between the CONCACAF champion and the South American champions (Copa Libertadores).

ŸHired in 1998 to lead the US Men’s National Team, Arena led the red, white, and blue for 8 years and was the most successful coach in United States national team history.  Arena’s highlights included leading the team to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup before exiting with a controversial but inspiring 1-0 defeat against Germany on a Michael Ballack goal.  Arena also saw the US reach an all-time best international FIFA Ranking (4th place, April 2006).   Arena’s US squads were influenced by such EPL stars as Reyna, Brad Friedel, Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride and the young Landon Donovan.

ŸArena was hired by MLS’ LA Galaxy in 2008, taking over for the ineffective Rudd Gullit and quickly turned the Galaxy into the league’s best. The team has won the last two MLS Cups while capturing two of the last three MLS Supporter’s Shields (regular season title).

It would be interesting to see how Arena would fare in the Premier League; how the best America has to offer would do coaching against the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes and Rafa Benetiz.  Arena is 61 years old but Harry Redknapp is 65, Roy Hodgson is 65, SAF is 70 so experience clearly matters.  Our only taste of an American taking on such a challenge is Arena’s protégé Bob Bradley (assisted Arena at Virginia and DC United), currently the Egyptian Men’s National Team head man.  Results have been mixed so far for Bradley and still not the same as taking on the world’s best league and biggest personalities.

Would the demanding English fans accept him?  Would the tough English press give him a fair opportunity?  Would the players welcome him?  All questions that would have to be answered.

I say, yes, give Arena a shot at it.  He has proven his abilities at the domestic and international level and has proven capable of managing big-time players and molding them into successful teams.

By Grant Serafy

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