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Donovan looking to help make Swansea City 'America's club'

For years, Landon Donovan was viewed as America’s player. He was the most recognizable face on the U.S. Men’s National Team, a player credited with helping bring the game to the forefront of the U.S. eye.

Now, with his playing career finished, he’s looking ahead to helping a Premier League club make waves in the country he calls home.

Donovan was named to an advisory role last year by Swansea City owners and fellow Americans Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, and the USMNT legend recently made his first visit to the club in Wales. The visit helped provide a bit of clarity to his role going forward, one which will see him, hopefully, help the club grow in ways previously impossible.

“I think a lot of clubs are trying to reach out into the American market, or the Chinese market, the Indian market or the South American market,” Donovan told Swansea’s official website.  “And I think Swansea City are certainly becoming more known in America.  We have an advantage if we do things right because we have people involved who are American and people who genuinely care about the club.

“I think the Swansea name will get bigger and bigger in America and elsewhere. I think most likely every pre-season should be in America. That makes sense for a lot of reasons. You have to keep building the profile and promoting it. Eventually the hope is that this becomes America’s club one day.”

The club has obviously had its ups and downs in recent months. After being acquired by Kaplan and Levien, the club hired former USMNT boss Bob Bradley as manager in October in a move that was criticized by the club’s supporters. Just 85 days and 11 games later, the club fired Bradley, moving on to current manager Paul Clement.

Donovan’s role in the current setup has many layers. Thanks to his playing career, Donovan remains well-connected throughout the world of soccer, and his rolodex could only aid Swansea’s efforts. The former forward played in England and Germany as well as in MLS, giving him a wealth of experience, perspective and knowledge of many areas of the game.

Still, he knows his limits. He stressed that neither Clement nor chairman Huw Jenkins need his advice, stating that both are fully capable of handling a majority of situations. Donovan’s role is simply to provide input when asked, helping to aid the club in his own way.

“Once in a while I might be asked about certain players they are trying to bring in or certain circumstances, and I do have some experience I think will be valuable,” Donovan said.  “A lot of times when you bring a player in, you can see what they do on the pitch but you want to know what that player is like. If you are in a situation, for example, like we are currently, fighting against relegation, you want to know you have men who can handle that. You often hear stories about players or you know players who have played with other players and through that you can get to understand what the man is like behind the player.”

“If you don’t know a player directly, for me it’s pretty easy to get to know that player through one or two connections.  I think that can be valuable because you want to know who’s coming to your club, especially at a club like this.  This is not Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal, who can spend hundreds of millions of pounds on players, so you have to get the right ones.”

For now, though, Donovan insists the focus isn’t on the big picture, but rather the one Swansea is facing currently. The club remains in a relegation fight, two points from safety with just four games remaining.

“The way the Premier League is going, I think the haves are moving further ahead and have-nots are fighting to keep pace,” he says.  Maybe at some point the club can push a little higher because if you get a great manager like Paul and get the right players, you can make some strides. You can perhaps push for eighth or seventh or sixth.

“But it’s difficult, so my personal ambition would be first and foremost to stay in the Premier League, then see how far up the table we can push.”

21 comments
  • Rob

    Steps to become America’s Club ™
    1: Win things
    2: Hire American players.
    3: Win things

    Like

  • Joe from Houston

    Well, firing their American manager so quickly is NOT going to help. I’m routing for them to be relegated!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • TheFrenchOne

      sadly, I feel exactly the same way. I didn’t care about them prior to Bob’s hiring. But I invested in them when he became the manager and followed the games/results. Once they fired them, I turned on them.

      I doubt the club, and especially the fans, give a rip about building their brand in the US. Otherwise, they would have given Bob more time. So screw them, I hope they drop (and this is coming from a big Donovan fan).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marvis

        Agreed. I followed them pretty closely during the time he was in charge, but firing him without a window rubbed me the wrong way. Another turnoff was the nasty and entitled vibe that seemed to come from their supporters and the Welsh media. Anyway, welcome to the second division, Swans.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Wood Chip Zip

      Swansea fans are awful. Just awful and hateful. I hope they go down and I wish Donovan would dissociate himself from them. It’s not healthy to be a part of such a negative place; the hate runs too deep. I hope Sigurdsson goes somewhere else too. He’s also too decent for that cesspool

      Liked by 1 person

  • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

    Let see
    They aren’t in the US
    They fired an American manager after giving him very little time.
    and he admits they have zero shot of winning ever and will probably lose forever instead.

    Even if you can get over the first two hurdles to try to become Americas team, I don’t see people giving up their Barca/Real Madrid jersey buying for this anytime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Old School

    People whining about “American” Bradley not receiving fair treatment are conveniently ignoring he most likely never gets that job if not for being American.

    It was a bad fit, bad hire and bad job to take.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

      OldS

      They can say Swansea won’t be America’s team because of something they did ( fire Bradley ) and still agree that Swansea should do it. For instance, I didn’t opine on whether it was fair or not, just said it was a very short amount of time.

      ps. you used my title word (whine), that is why I replied, a few others definitely think it is unfair.

      Liked by 1 person

  • whammmm

    Swansea won’t be my team because of American ownership or because LD says too… that is just not how it works. I support American players and watch their clubs because I wan’t to see them play and do well. Put an entertaining product on the field with some American players and you might snag a few followers.

    Liked by 2 people

  • NE Revs

    The ceiling for Swansea is probably Fulham as far as support from US fans. To become America’s team they would need a world class American player like Pulisic, but that would never happen. Whatever team has Pulisic on it will likely become America’s team if he continues on his current growth trajectory.

    Me personally, I follow players more than teams. I don’t really “pick” teams to support in foreign leagues. For example, I used to love Arsenal because of Henry (and Bergkamp, Vieira, Pires, etc), but there isn’t a current player on their squad that deserves a cool shoe shine

    Like

  • SilverRey

    Weird timing.

    I think I’d rather support Newcastle. They will have two things on Swansea next year – a National Team American and a spot in the Premier League.

    I give Levian some credit for trying to bridge the Atlantic – first by investing in Swansea, then by hiring BB (even though that backfired), and now trying to get LD more involved. But he seems to be forcing it too much, this latest announcement being a prime example.

    Like

  • bizzy

    “….make Swansea City ‘America’s club”

    Then give us something to relate to. Have USMNT players playing in MLS train with Swansea during the off season, have regular trials with up and coming America hopefuls, sign young players (and make it public) into the Swansea Academy…..

    Then maybe most people will have a soft spot of Swansea. Hiring and firing Bob Bradley is definitely not the answer (after that I kinda wanted them to be relegated to be honest lol 😀 )

    Liked by 1 person

  • Pjs

    Has LD gone into LaLa land? There is nothing American about Swansea which their fans proved during the BB tenure. The only future they have is relegation. I will be broken hearted if any young American players go there.

    Liked by 1 person

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