Issue Todd makes it easy to go

As told by Michael Wood

Note: This article has swear words in it.

After a couple of seasons of making the best – or at least an average – fist of a bad hand given to him at Bradford City Colin Todd has committed the cardinal sin of football managers and in doing so given plenty of reason why he should now be fired.

Reports and rumours from those coming back from Gillingham have Todd telling some of the ravelling City support who were barracking him at the end of the game to “Fuck Off”. In the two years he has been boss Todd has shown an unargued professionalism to the point where people accused him of being professional to the expense of having passion and this outburst has coloured that image. No matter. Todd has just about ensured that sooner rather than later he will be leaving Valley Parade.

Let me be clear on this. I could not give a hoot if Todd – or for that matter anyone – swears in heated conversation. What is good enough for Philip Larkin will do for me when expression in anger is on the table and I doubt any of the City fans in debate with Todd at the end of the game had not heard and used similar while following the club. I do not expect Todd holding the a higher standard than any supporter and as a result I do not expect him to work the miricles some would have him do – but he must know that on the whole he is held to that high standard and this slip gives a silver bullet of ammunition to those who want him out of the club.

Because for the time Todd has been under fire he has always had the catch-all that while some may disagree with his team and the way he plays the game he stands alone in experiencing the life as City boss in the current situation and those who comment do so for the safety of the sides. Such talk is unarguable and in my opinion has validity but now becomes moot. The accusation at Todd now no longer needs to be about the players he picks out of position or the performances of the team on the day or any of the factors that justified and justifiable debate continues on but on the duality of ideas that mealy-mouthed Todd is not the sort who should be given a chance to run our football club and that by swearing at one group of supporters he was expressing an inner loathing of many. In short – that Todd has told us all to fuck off.

Like Bill and Monica or Glenn Hoddle and the “karma induced disabled” comments it was only a matter of time before Todd reacted to the abuse that he gets – justified or otherwise – and expressed the kind of distaste for the supporters which is common throughout football but never verbalised.

At most levels of football supporters are viewed on as a distraction at best and a necessary evil at worse. It is no different for managers but like chairman who talk of the lifeblood of the club and players who sign autographs one minute and walk out the next the public face is always that the club has “The best supporters in the World.” There are 3,300,000 football clubs in the World and around 100 professional ones in the UK and all claim to have the best supporters in the World. That if nothing else should tell you of the sincerity of such claims.

Which is not to suggest that City’s support are bad or that they deserve swearing at on a regular basis. They are a divergent bunch with many opinions – I know because at BfB we have put forward four or five dozen different fan’s opinions at least and none of them have had any unity of thought other than that they were all from Bradford City supporters – and the significant and vocal collection who want rid of Todd are no less aware of these points. They are not offended by Todd swearing or especially surprised by the idea that football managers may not have the same passion for clubs as supporters do. They now have the chance to act righteously justified and call for the manager to go for not respecting the supporters or the club. Todd has foolishly given them one although with a contract which is reported to run for three more years and the chance of that being paid out as a result of thins I’m not sure who the fool would be.

So what do we conclude from this event and if the two years of Colin Todd’s management are coming to an end? possibly that managing a club with massive financial problems under ongoing trading restrictions is extremely difficult – well we could have asked Nicky Law who would have told us that – and that the guy in the manager’s chair thinks that the support at this club helps the opposition – well Law told us that too. Neither of these issues at City are helped by a total unwillingness by subsection – everything is about subsections – of fans who refuse to believe both of these points. The atmosphere is negative at Valley Parade as shown in contrast against Blackpool and the fact that before a ball is kicked in the season £600,000 goes out to Gordon Gibb and others who rent bits of VP back to the club hampers the club compared to the rest of the division.

In fact in the reckoning if Todd does go he will list his two years at VP on his CV as having done a stabilising job with no money to sign players and a historic debt problem to service and he will say that in those circumstances he did a good job. The recipients of that CV – chairman who are sick of managers mortgaging their clubs to save their jobs – would probably agree with him.

We have learned very little in the last two years about the promise of success based on consistency. BfB is constantly characterised as being pro-Todd despite having given the current City boss more criticism than any who have preceded him but in truth the call for consistency is not a call for this manager to keep his job but for all City managers to be given a chance to make a fist of the job. It is a call to try stop the process of appoint and sack and let managers get some work done at Bradford City.

The call for keeping Todd in his job for football reasons is no different now as it was to keep Paul Jewell after two points in seven games in 1999 or it will be to keep the next boss when things go bad for him but those calls are made on the basis of footballing reasons. What Todd has done now opens him up to pressure on his job away from the field of play and should it be decided on the basis that Todd and the supporters have an incorrigible relationship then how can he be defended? The board have the prerogative of deciding on a manager who has a better built in relationship with the fans such as Peter Beagrie or Stuart McCall but in doing so set a dangerous precedent for allowing the whim of a group of fans dictate policy.

Regardless if this argument between boss and fans has hastened the next manager settling into his chair at Valley Parade then all the calls for Todd to keep his job have been far from in vain. The same principal that backs our calls for Todd to keep his position will be applied to either of the rookie pair mentioned above and – as they learn the ropes of football management at a cash strapped club – they may need it.