From February, 2006
I spent much of this evening in debate with an eager reader who asked me how I could still support Colin Todd despite the 2-1 reversal at Milton Keynes Dons this weekend. He is to start a protest against Todd on Saturday – the protest will involve t-shirts – and wanted to know if I would making him a website for it.
I mulled it over – the idea that BfB supported Colin Todd not the idea of doing a free website for someone – and wondered how accurate it was. I flicked back through enough editorials to know that the Gaffer does not have a ringing endorsement from my comments but that there is much talk about the need for continuity.
At this point I cannot imagine the decision Julian Rhodes has to make. Certainly it is true to say that Rhodes’s faith in Todd has been shaken in recent months and with one win in eleven the chairman must be thinking issuing a P45 to a manager he inherited appointed as assistant by Gordon Gibb and then as manager by an administrator.
Rhodes probably knows that axing Todd would give him a popularity boost and lift the mood around Bradford City. Todd’s popularity has hit such low levels it is almost impossible to see it being turned around. The manager who was lambasted for negative tactics for most of the season now picks midfields of passing players – Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, Tom Penford, Steven Schumacher and Owen Morrison are no one’s defensive line up – but having given the fans what they wanted he now carries the can for bad results.
And as results go bad so does mood. City walked onto the field at Milton Keynes a team which looks mentally beaten before a ball is kicked. It could have been the loss of Dean Windass but more likely the mood which effects the fans is deeply rooted in the club. Football is game played mostly in the head and built on confidence and just as in the stands the idea that Todd’s team will win has gone from the dressing room. It does not matter if this is true or not the presence of the idea is enough to curse the side.
In short – and to quote my late Nan – the poor Buggar cannot do right for wrong. I have no idea if Todd has “lost the dressing room” or even what losing the dressing room is but I have seen enough football to know that City are in the sort of situation where a someone would get a pasting in the game after a management change and for a while everything would be right again.
However Julian Rhodes has sat in on the last four management changes at City in some way and the Bantams have gone though the man appointed from within, the experienced professional boss, the young up and coming boss and the top international without any turnaround of fortunes. It would take an especially dense man not to at least pause at the idea of having to go back into the job market to find someone to follow in those footsteps without being worried that the problem is not in another area of the club and that changing the manager is not the so much nothing which it has proved to be over the last half decade.
In all honesty I could not say to Julian Rhodes that any of the candidates likely to apply for the job of Bantams manager would be better than any of the last five bosses who have been in charge at Valley Parade but I’d suspect that a great number of much worse bosses would apply. I could be pretty sure that the change would boost morale and Rhodes would know the cost of that in hard cash. Todd has a twelve month contract to pay off and for the £100,000 plus the chairman gives away the reward is the randomness of appointment and a very good chance that an application process would make hardly any difference whatsoever in anything other than the short term. Chris Kamara was three numbers, Paul Jewell was a big lottery win. Almost every other change has been a zero baller.
So faced with the level of uncertainty Rhodes is stuck in a Catch 22 situation. Todd’s presence at the club is deflating matters to such a point where it is hard to see a win coming – although they always do – but to get rid of him is expensive and repeats an often failing policy of football chairmanship. 99% of the time the new manager is no better than the old one and the whole process of paying off the one, getting rid of players, bringing players in and then eighteen months later sacking is costly and tedious.
So expect Rhodes to do as all chairmen faced with this problem do. He will hold onto Colin Todd for as long as he can because should the team manage to get past fifty points he has less pressure to make a change. Should he need to make the change – and after Saturday that change could be made on Monday morning – then he will fall back on what he is familiar with and appoint David Wetherall as manager until the end of the season. An untried manager coming in with a need to get points quickly. Sure Wetherall might get the wins need but things could go wrong in a bigger way than they are doing now. Such is untried managers.
So why do we back Colin Todd? Because I don’t like gambles being made with my club’s future when the stakes are so high.
I want a Todd Out banner for Saturday.
But more than just a banner – a bit of shoe polish on Mum’s table cloth – I want to believe in my Todd out banner.
Which is where I fall out. Odd for me being a good Catholic boy and all but when push comes to shove Toddy out the door I lack the faith required to see the benefit.
Naturally I see the good points in getting rid of the manager – bad results lead to a lack of confidence in the squad and in the supporters and this translates into games so obviously. Footballers – being simple lads – are under the impression that if you get rid of one man who tells you to play 442 (or sometimes not) and jockey the other side’s for’rad and get someone else to tell you to play 442 and jockey the other side’s for’rad then fortunes are immediately turned around. Who is to say that the next guy will not be better than the last? Sure it reeks of randomness but it has some sense to it.
Football is a mostly mental game – especially at this level – and as such it could be argued that if the players believed that a change of manager would equal a change of fortunes then the ends would justify the means regardless of the qualities of the incumbents of the job. The cult of the manager has a firm hold in football now but sometimes one must wonder how much influence the man who wears the big coat has over the team. Kevin Keegan used to say that his job finished at three on a Saturday and started again at quarter to five because the players were in charge in between those times.
Regardless of the short term boons it might grant I wish I could believe that sacking Todd would cure the problems of Bradford City but experience tells me that it probably would not. I have a genuine envy of those people who can be so sure that a P45 here and there would fix the team in the same way I wish I could be sure that Heaven, God and all that stuff was really real. Back to the good Catholic boy bit. It would be good to know for sure but perhaps faith is the order of the day and blind faith at that. Faith in the face of all evidence to the contrary.
Unfortunately I will no doubt find out both the answers to the mysteries of life and the question of what will happen to City post-Todd all too soon. Perhaps taking the Catholic religion as a metaphor is my problem when it comes to believing. The Buddhists believe in reincarnation and so perhaps should we? Are we really just Paul Jewell’s Bradford City reborn for the fifth time? Is it – as the man said – “the karma working from a previous lifetime”?
Colin Todd’s Bradford City will no doubt be reincarnated as someone else’s – perhaps Stuart McCall’s if rumour watch tells us anything – before too long but the new body will face the same problems as the old. We live in a world where Rotherham announce that they are £1m and a few weeks away from liquidation (not administration – liquidation) and being the first team to go out of the league mid-season since Aldershot but the leading stories on BBC and Sky Sports were that Chelsea were holding off on relaying the pitch.
Dwindling numbers and lack of interest – back to Catholicism again it seems. We are in an increasingly diminishing scenario where fans exit and are not replaced. Aggressive pricing has put off a generation – we all know a few who have stopped going to VP but who can remember the last time we saw a new face? – and takes chunks out of the previous ones. Rotherham gulp for air and the likes of Chelsea are using the aqualungs for breathing laughing gas. To suggest that no one cares outside of us is the understatement to kill a game.
I wish I could believe that this could be turned around by sacking Colin Todd.
Hell I wish I could believe that this could be turned around.