From May, 2007
I will admit to a softness for City’s combative midfielder Steven Schumacher and so his move to Crewe Alex for a nominal fee upsets me. Schumacher is very much the type of player who the future of Bradford City is – like it or not – in the hands of.
Signing as a former England skipper rejected by Everton Schumacher arrived at Bradford looking to kick start his career and having spend three years in League One and not having to take the drop with his team mates one could argue that his has done just that. Looking at Schumacher’s career to date one could suggest that like many, many other kids coming out of Premiership clubs his status as a footballer depends not on his ability to justify a contract from a club looking for the next bounce back to the top flight but rather his ability to get a contract beyond that. Every club has top flight lads who come in with huge expectations and exit with a whimper. Schumacher has exited without huge glory but a third club is more than most get.
Yet watching Schumacher was often a frustrating experience. His first season was impressive and his second famously as bad as his first was good after Colin Todd – won over by eight goals in two games form a midfield powered by Schumacher and Marc Bridge-Wilkinson – seemed to decided that those two could ball players could be City’s route out of League One. Both preferred a more solid man next to them – Schumacher and Tom Kearney had made a great partnership for the Bantams as did Lee Crooks and Bridge-Wilkinson – but together they could never recapture the two the sword play they ran through AFC Bournemouth and Brentford at the end of that first season.
Schumacher suffered like all players in that second club do as he grew up in the harsh light of Valley Parade. Like many who have impressed for City in recent years it was away from home with the pressure off that he shone with his engine purring up and down Roots Hall and Ashton Gate consistently for the eighteen months where his home form disserted him.
Towards the end of his time at Valley Parade and under the stewardship of David Wetherall Schumacher showed signs of maturity in his play and his attitude. His dismissive swearing at City fans at Chesterfield was nobody’s finest hour but the player’s temperament had come to a part where he felt that criticism aimed at the team was aimed at him. One suspects other players on the field that day would have pointed at their team mates rather than shouldering the blame to react badly.
Were it not for relegation Schumacher would have probably have signed a new deal under Stuart McCall and the former City number four would have been looking for someone to play anchor behind the more attacking man in a McCall-style holding position but such was not to be and Schumacher goes onto Crewe with a new dawn starting behind him. For a time few will miss him.
However if Everton gave birth to Steven Schumacher then it is Bradford City who brought the player up. His hundred plus games for the Bantams are his education in football and turned him from would be professional kid into professional footballer. We get a nominal fee as a reward for our endeavours but Crewe stand to reap the rewards, whatever they may be.
Much effort and energy has gone into the decision made by Julian Rhodes to cut Bradford City season tickets from the £15 a game prices that are common in all football to the £138 they went on sale at today. Six quid a game is cheaper than the cinema and the best value in football. It is brave, it is ambitious, it is innovative and brand defining. It is everything people who work in marketing and branding would want. It deserves to work.
Rhodes cuts prices with the hope of increasing demand and nurturing an atmospherical fan base for the future. In a way Julian Rhodes is legacy building the in same areas that Geoffrey Richmond started. The Quid-a-Kid generation at Valley Parade are now the foot soldiers of our fans.
For so long Rhodes has stood alone at the helm. The Gang of Five do in some cases superb work – David Bosomworth’s dealings with the youth set up is paramount – but Jim Brown’s ability to take up the mantel of leadership above and beyond struggling with Peter Etherington for that position has been noticeable. Enter Stuart McCall.
McCall provides the leadership to push Rhodes’s plan to fruition. We are Stuart’s club again. This is a good thing and everyone sees it. The Midland Road stand – unsponsored for a year following Peter Etherington’s promises – is to be redubbed The Morrison’s Stand as the local supermarket magnet Sir Ken’s grip on the company that holds his name lessens and the board of Bradford’s biggest plc come round to the community the inhabit. Should Intersonic not want to continue then – as BfB understand it – Bradford City would play at The Morrison’s Stadium.
Sponsorship – as with bums on seats – is on the up. So is Mood.
Simon Ainge signed a new two year deal to do the job he loves and boomed
We should be expected to do well because we are a big club. We were a big club in League One so of course people will be looking at us to be up there. We obviously need some more players but with the ones we’ve got here already, I can’t see why we won’t go back up.
Stuart McCall must be pleased. Ainge has offered to play right back next term should the David Wetherall/Mark Bower partnership not be plundered. McCall himself started in the number two slot for the Bantams and the fact that Ainge joins Tom Penford, Joe Colbeck and Craig Bentham in signing contracts with the club shows a spirit of trust in the products of Bradford City.
On a Friday afternoon the mind is given to idle speculation and the mix of young players and a new serge of supporters all playing for a man who has gone from bootroom skinny to backroom manager fills the heart with anticipation and joy.
£138? I’ll be getting one.
Dean Windass probably likes to think of himself as a footballing Peter Pan. Despite pushing 40, the evergreen striker continues to bang in the goals and shows no sign of winding when so many other players his age have already hung up their boots.
Bradford City fans may be inclined to agree with the Peter Pan comparison, although at this moment not in the same way. Forget playing like a child, he certainly seems to have the mindset of one. Listening to him air his views on Radio Leeds today, you could almost hear the sound of his toys been thrown out of the pram. Windass has spit out the dummy and declared he is taking his ball home as he doesn’t want to play at Valley Parade anymore. Peter Pan is apt; he is certainly the boy who never grew up.
The reason for his outburst? The evil Captain Hook, or Julian Rhodes to us, has demanded a pirates ransom (250K) in return for his freedom. Should Hull not come up with more gold, he will be locked up and forced to spend the rest of his days in the tortuous abyss (League Two). Our hero is trying to escape, screaming for help as loudly into any passing microphone. But with the dastardly Rhodes’ Ginger-haired Smee tying him up harder, he won’t be walking the plank to freedom just yet.
Listening to Deano label City’s demands as ridiculous makes me want City to reject any offer from Hull and force him to rot in our reserves. How can £250k be considered ‘ridiculous’ when City have twice turned down double that offer for him in recent years? After each of Wigan’s failed bids, Deano was offered extended terms as a reward for loyalty. Having been well looked after by the club, he thinks its unfair we are asking so much for a player who has scored 20+ goals three years in a row. Apparently Rhodes agreed he could go, so that’s that. How dare the evil pirate ship Bradford City demand to receive what he’s worth?
The most frustrating thing about the whole episode is why he has felt it necessary to come out and say anything. Listening to his words, he sounds like a sulky Italian or ungrateful young star. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a 39 year old player with a career of almost two decades. Why couldn’t he just stay quiet and wait for the deal to inevitably work itself out? He could have left the club where he has become a hero with most people’s best wishes.
We City fans have a lot to be grateful to Deano for. In two separate spells, he has proved an excellent goalscorer and good figurehead. He is our 4th highest goalscorer of all time and has provided numerous happy memories. His goals have been crucial and plentiful. Windass is very much like Robbie Savage and Paul Dickov in been a player opposition fans love to hate, often with good reason. It was incredible some of the stick he would get, but it made us love him more. As the City Gent’s Mike Harrison once wrote, “he may be an idiot, but he’s our idiot.”
Yet City in turn have been good to him. It was by playing for us that he rose to national fame with his swashbuckling style of play and cheeky chappy media demeanour. After proving himself a Premiership player for us, he got a good move to Middlesbrough. As his career took a dip, he rejoined us and again showed his form and ability after a difficult first season back. It’s not surprising he has such a long list of admirers in other managers and several moves to sign him have been turned down.
He also clearly loved been a big fish at City. He was our hero and lapped up the ‘Deano’ chants. It seems to have gone to his head and his attitude has upset some. I’ve heard stories about Deano’s behaviour last season that cannot be put in the public domain. If true, it’s fair to say the decision to loan him to Hull last January was not completely about the money.
There’s no doubting we missed him and relegation would probably have been avoided had he stayed. There were also some idiots on message boards criticising him unfairly, but it’s fair to say the majority of City fans appreciated our number 10 and still considered him a hero. What a shame he has to act like this and upset his second love.
Last season Colin Todd famously said that Deano considered himself, “bigger than the club.” Those comments may have been tongue in cheek, but they certainly seem very fitting now. He will get his move and one day, as he compiles his inevitable autobiography, he may be ashamed of how he left this club. Although don’t bet on the boy growing up.
It was anticipated that Dean Windass’s move from Bradford City would go without a hitch and it probably would have done but for a missing zero. City want £250,000, Hull have offered £25,000. No one is happy.
Julian Rhodes maintains that City are not going to seel a Championship quality player for a cut down price, Windass complained about City “moving the goalposts” – lovely football metaphor fom the big man – while Hull manager Phil Brown maintains that City suggested that they loan payment the Tigers (Tiger-Ra-Ra-Ra) made for the home town hero should be knocked off the £250,000 tag. Rhodes would probably say it has been. Perhaps Rhodes will suggest Hull take the £25,000 to Milton Keynes Dons and see how close it gets them to signing Izale McLeod who is perhaps the only comparable goalscorer in the league.
Windass is frustrated and calls the price tag an absolute joke but after two administrations and many staff losing jobs few are laughing at Valley Parade when it comes to finance. Windass has two years left on his City contract and the Bantams pay him something around £85,000 a year. Simple maths suggests that any bid less than £170,000 less than the Bantams value the player at – that sort of figure that Windass would be looking at spending if he wanted to buy himself out of his deal at Valley Parade to move abroad – is bound to be rejected but Windass wants age considering and his desire to play at his home town club.
For Hull’s part £250,000 is probably more than they would want to pay for a player with no resale value but resale value on footballers is an increasingly outmoded concept. Reading signed Steve Sidwell from Arsenal for nothing which was exactly how much they got from Chelsea for him when he left having rejected a new contract with the Royals. For the wages they paid him they got a contribution to a promotion and another year the Premiership which represents decent value in anyone’s book. It is this model – not the idea of footballer as resaleable asset – that is taking hold in the game and be is £250,000 or £25,000 that The Tigers spend on Windass they would be advices to spread that cost with the players £1,000 a week as a liability cost of ownership but I’m sure Adam Pearson does not need a lesson in football accounting from me. He was smart enough to get out of Leeds before the money ran out.
Is £250,000 a joke for Windass? Is £25,000? One rumour has it – and we stress that this is little more than idle gossip – that Jan Molby had run up a phone bill of £42,000 in three months when he was fired by Hull City which he expected and got the club to pick up. This is a world where people sweated blood to raise that sort of cash to keep clubs up and down the land in business.
Were the positions reversed and Hull were returning our talisman then no doubt different views would be taken but as it is the men in the East hold all the cards: they are two divisions higher, have more money and have the will to take the player to the KC Stadium. City have Windass and that rules all.
The strikers options are limited should a deal not be struck. He could threaten retirement unless he is allowed to join but such a move would only work as leverage to get the Bantams to allow him to leave for as little as he wants to and while no one has ever accused Deano of having the greatest reason he will at some point begin to wonder what the purpose of his move is if Hull are not prepared to offer the going rate for him? How valued would Dean Windass be at his new club if they only wanted him on the cheap? How many games can he expect to get in the next two years if he is considered a nice-to-have player rather than the first name on Stuart McCall’s team sheet?
One can assume that Windass’s anger at City for demanding big money is equaled by Hull’s instance that he is only worth small potatoes. Without Windass Hull would probably be back in the bottom two divisions – isn’t that worth £225,000?
Or is Windass’s return a sop to supporters who want to see the Lionesque forward reduced to a bit part player poked onto the stage for their amusement. Surely Dean Windass is not going to be reduced to a cameo ten minutes at the end of a Championship game so that the Tigers can applaud their hero but not reward him with the ninety plus games he has left in the next 24 months of his football career.
It escaped sometime overnight and was said to be a leaking of information but one suspect that an inability not to shout from the rooftops has motivated Julian Rhodes as he formally announced
In light of intense media speculation, I’m delighted to say that the new manager is Stuart McCall.
McCall was to be unveiled as part of a three card trick coming at the start of June but idle speculation suggested snags where none existed and to keep momentum on the manager Rhodes opened up for all. He inherited Nicky Law, Gordon Gibb picked Bryan Robson and an administrator promoted Colin Todd. McCall is Rhodes’s first manager and probably the one he has been dreaming about giving the job to.
Tributes for Stuart are plentiful and lead by Walter Smith at Ibrox – the most decorated manager in that club’s history – who says that McCall has all the attribute to make a great boss. McCall seems ready to add Wayne Jacobs to his backroom team as a number two. Jacobs never takes the credited for Darren Moore and Linvoy Primus but both men name Jacobs as the biggest influence on their careers.
Mccall may also have Dean Windass to select after Hull City offered little for a striker whom they credit with a lot. Phil Brown has suggested that Windass’s goals kept them in the Championship but in negotiations he is an 39 year old and not a season-saver and the East Coast side want to pay for him as such. City would rather he be considered similar to Mark Bower – a player capable in The Championship – and paid for accordingly.
Rhodes addresses his opposite number at Hull when he says
The point I made to Adam (Pearson, Hull’s chairman) is that Dean Windass is a striker who could score 30 goals in League Two and what sort of price can you put on that? When Dean went to Hull, and I admit it was at my instigation due to us needing to save money, the understanding was always that the move was temporary. It was not with a view to a permanent deal with the plan always being for Dean to return in the summer.
Windass will not be sold for less than the cost of a thirty goal striking replacement says Rhodes. The inference is there for all. We needed the money before. Do might need it now?
Windass is a man of heart and in McCall in the Premiership he found a kindred spirit. He wants to go back to play for his hometown club but he has done that now and the prospect of giong back into the trenches with McCall may a worthwhile project for the final two years of the lively striker’s career.
McCall will also have the Yang of Windass’s Ying to call on with David Wetherall confirming his intention to step back to playing duties as McCall himself did after a spell in charge. Wetherall hopes to get a chance to run the reserves but seems shell shocked by his time in the big chair and wants to go back and process information on the field until he is ready to take charge again. He will probably be the best – if not the quickest – defender in League Two.
McCall is squad building at the moment. He weighs up options including – BfB understands – reoffering a deal to Steven Schumacher while Marc Bridge-Wilkinson joins Port Vale on a free. There is a calm to follow Rhodes’s confirmation, to precede a storm.
It’s five years since Stuart McCall was shown the door by Bradford City. Considered too old, too expensive and a little disruptive, his contract was not renewed and his number four shirt handed to someone else.
The impending financial meltdown that would come to light weeks later was the true reason behind showing a City legend the door. Yet as a near full house waved goodbye to Stuart during his testimonial game with former club Rangers, it appeared his best days were behind him.
Stuart hooked up with Neil Warnock’s Sheffield United and enjoyed a new leash of life by playing a significant part in the Blades reaching the League and FA Cup semi-finals and losing the Play Off final. Not bad for a player who Jim Jefferies, less than a year earlier, famously wrote off by saying his legs had gone. When those legs did eventually go, his coaching career took off. Rising to Warnock’s assistant, the sight of Stuart stood behind the Blades boss in the dugout has become a regular sight on Match Of The Day this season.
As for his first love Bradford City, it’s not been pretty. Administration, administration again, relegation, relegation again. Six years ago City were the butt of people’s jokes as they exited the Premiership, relegation to League Two was deemed barely worth a mention. The fall from grace may not have been as quick as the club formerly known as Wimbledon, but it’s still startling.
But just as we wondered if good things would ever happen to City again, Stuart comes over the hill as the proverbial knight in shining armour. City shocked the footballing world by signing Benito Carbone seven years ago and some will again be left scratching their heads in disbelief at Stuart’s decision to take the reigns at Valley Parade. Chiefly among them will be us City supporters and the staff, probably even Julian Rhodes himself.
When Colin Todd was dismissed last February, Stuart became number one target. There was nothing doing at the time, so Rhodes entrusted David Wetherall to look after the team and saw it relegated in feeble fashion. The wait continued and, after a turbulent week for the Blades, Rhodes incredibly got his man.
Through all of the waiting and debate of who should be manager, most supporters wanted Stuart in charge. We hoped he’d take the job, but who really believed he would? This is a club that has sunk to its lowest position in quarter of a century, become saddled with debts and played increasingly poor football. Decent players were replaced by average players – and then they were replaced by even poorer ones.
What have we achieved, other than continuing survival, since Stuart left? Staying up in 2002-03, but losing relegation battles in 2003-04 and 2006-07. Signing some decent players like Paul Henderson, Damion Stewart and Andy Gray, but only receiving a fraction of their value back. Attracting a world class big name manager, but discovering he was not a world class manager. Winning some memorable games, but losing more often and when it really mattered.
Good things haven’t happened to Bradford City for a long time. So who would have been surprised if Stuart had of landed the Sheffield United position and turned us down? Of course part of the reason we have got him was because the Blades decided he wasn’t right. But it hardly matters a jot.
A manager to finally unite the fans, attract more interest in the club and breed genuine optimism. A Bradford City man to inspire those who work under him, emphasise with the fans and demonstrate the long sought after ‘passion’ that some supporters believed was lacking in previous managers. A hungry individual with a point to prove to those who rejected him, ambitious for a good career and determined to succeed.
A man to help us remember happier times and look to the future with new belief. Good things haven’t happened to Bradford City for a long time, Stuart’s arrival will hopefully herald a change.
From The Real McCall which was written in 1998 by by Alan Nixon and Stuart McCall
One day, in the distant future I would love to manage Bradford City. If I had the choice, that would be where I would start. I would like to repay the Bradford fans for all their support and courage for those years ago. There is some unfinished business to be done as far as I’m concerned. I have never meant to put pressure on the manager in charge of Bradford at the time, I am talking down the line…
Andrew Stuart Murray McCall will begin his third spell at Bradford City with a weight of expectation. His first spell saw triumph and tragedy in the same afternoon in 1985. His second saw the hugh achievement of Premiership promotion and the subsequent fall into administration. His path is littered with success.
As the ink dries on the two year deal to manage the Bantams there is no idea of anything other than a replication of those glories.
Julian Rhodes has stood alone over the past few years keeping the club together – let history record that and damn the doubters – but now he is joined and in pursuing McCall so fervently that he was prepared to knock back a job two divisions higher to join City he has made the decision Geoffrey Richmond failed to.
Back in the summer of 2000 when Paul Jewell left the job at Bradford City the invigorating force of McCall should have been employed as manager with Chris Hutchings kept in the role of number two. Bygones. A mistake is only a mistake if it is repeated.
McCall takes over City and immediately has decisions to make. Dean Windass is keen on a transfer to Hull but the return of McCall may see the striker rethink. Windass is McCall’s second call.
McCall’s first call no doubt will be to the man he has in mind to be his assistant. Some think Terry Dolan, others Terry Yorath. Do not be surprised if McCall pulls out a name from his time at Rangers – do be surprised if that name is Paul Gascoigne. Also do not be surprised if David Wetherall’s coaching is rewarded with a place on the staff.
Once his backroom is in place and the Windass situation is resolved McCall will look at the out of contract four of Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, Steven Schumacher, Richard Edghill and Xaviar Barrau and make some decisions. No, Yes, No, No.
After that McCall begins to build and he could start that building at Southend United although not (just) for target man Billy Paynter but for former Bantam and Blade Simon Francis.
Lincoln City’s play off defeat means Spencer Weir-Daley favours us over them. It remains to be seen what McCall thinks of him.
Had we been two years ago then McCall’s side would have no doubt included If McCall gets a call from Italy from an excited Benito he should take it. If he gets one from Lancashire from a bloke called Ashley he can hang up. Players want to join clubs where they can see good things happening and this is Bradford City’s Keegan to Newcastle.
Decisions to be made. McCall is understood to have cancelled his family holiday to start work and what glorious, what long awaited, what wonderful work it should be.
Bradford City have confirmed that Stuart McCall will be returning to the club as the new manager. The former Bantams skipper shook hands with Julian Rhodes on the deal and is expected to be presented to City fans on the 1st of June following a two week family holiday.
McCall returns City after five years away at Sheffield United having previously rejoined in June 1998 when he skippered the Bantams to Premiership promotion. Previously McCall played for City from 1981 to 1988 with distinction taking the club to the brink of the top flight. He played and scored in the World Cup for Scotland in 1990. He was part of the Rangers team that knocked Leeds out of the European Cup. His nobility as a young profession following the fire of 1985 is marked with unspoken appreciation. He is – without doubt – the definitive legend of Bradford City and he is back.
His return today – a return which comes in preference the job at Sheffield United despite the word coming out of South Yorkshire – shows the meaning of that legend status. McCall returns at Bradford City to find a club on its knees and in doing so shows a massive faith in the club and the supporters.
It is up to the supporters – to us – to repay that faith. It is up to Bradford City supporters to put an end to the negativity and bad atmosphere that has blighted the club since the fall from the Premiership if not before. It is up to us – to all of us – to match McCall’s faith with some of our own.
McCall’s faith will be matched at Valley Parade soon with investment and aid for Julian Rhodes – Rhodes’s work in keeping City alive to this day is matched by McCall’s joining and has made it possible – arriving within the next two weeks that will mean that McCall’s first job at Valley Parade will not be to sell because we have been relegated but rather to start building a team for promotion. McCall may choose to sell Mark Bower or Dean Windass but – as BfB understands it – he will not be forced to.
McCall has shown the faith and it is up to all supporters to keep it. This can be the catalyst for this club turning round. If we owe Stuart McCall anything it is to take up an attitude of positive, positive, positive in matching the faith he has shown.
In being positive McCall returns to Bradford City to find not a club in its knees but an endless potential for the future. How many times did we see promoted teams from League Two flying by us in League One? McCall, Rhodes, the new investor can take heart from that. Should the innovation of Julian Rhodes’s season ticket policy be rewarded with a significant supporter boost then we could be on the brink of a push that could put the Bantams back into The Championship and then set us to push on from that.
McCall has shown faith and we must reward him for that by putting every resource we can as supporters into turning this club around into a place fit for McCall’s level of passion. Make no mistake about no matter what comes out of Sheffield United McCall has selected City over The Blades.
I’m sorry to say, dear reader, that we must have some secrets and I have been withholding from you the fact that Stuart McCall agreed to become City manager on Wednesday morning. When Terry Robinson talks about not offering Stuart the chance to manage The Blades because “(They) didn’t feel Stuart met the criteria necessary to get the club back into the Premiership” he speaks with forked tongue because while The Blades were lining Stuart up Stuart was confirming to City that he would be joining us.
Stuart has knocked back a good job at Sheffield United to show faith in us. We owe him everything we can do to ensure his and our success with him at the helm.
We owe Stuart McCall a repayment on the faith he has shown us. This club was going to Hell in a handcart despite the best efforts of many but this is the moment that everything turns around. This is year zero. This is Bradford City Resurrectus. Scratch that, even Jesus only came back once.
He is the resurrection and for this club he is the life.
Welcome, one and all, to the Third Coming.
Let it be known, I’m not one of Julian Rhodes biggest fans.
Yes, respect is due for the way his wallet keeps getting prized open to fund the shortfalls, but the deep deep part of me will never forget that the Rhodes family were implicit in the debacle that caused the whole problem and the relegations that followed and more importantly were negligent in allowing the fat man – Geoffrey Richmond – the level of personal vanity that put the club on collision course with Division Four.
That said, this week could be a massive milestone in the future of both Bradford City and one Julian Rhodes.
On the positive side, we could be sat here next week looking at a future where we could take some “ginger” steps towards the return of a period of “Bantam Progresivism”. The Glasnost of West Yorkshire.
A week from now, we might have Stuart McCall in place and if sense prevails a very experienced number two such as Terry Dolan or Stan Ternant alongside him. These men who lived and breathed the rise of the club from 1985 onwards.
We could have a modest amount of investment that might just fund some half decent, wholly owned committed players and we could be looking forward to the most exciting summer at Valley Parade for many a year.
Or we could be in the depths of despair…
McCall installed as number one at Bramall Lane, scratching around for a second choice and being left with the likes of, God forbid, Peter Jackson or worse still David Wetherall as manager.
Not that I dislike Wetherall, great leader, great club man, great player, just not ready yet to be manager as McCall himself wasn’t in 2000.
The knock effect being we panic and give contracts to players we should be saying adios to like Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, Steven Schumacher and Ricgard Edghill. Players who contributed in a massive way to our relegation with their lack of commitment, lack of skill and lack of anything approaching pride in a claret and amber shirt.
The outcome of this week will either make Rhodes or break him.
Land McCall and he’ll be forgiven relegation, forgiven the fact that an experienced manager such as Andy Ritchie, appointed when Colin Todd left, would have prevented it and be hailed as the deliverer of an orange future.
Failure to land the one we call McGod and Rhodes will have dropped another almighty clanger, have wasted half a season and have so much egg on his face that he might as well have spent the last 6 months in a chicken battery.
I hope for his sake that Mrs McCall’s heart rules over Stuart’s head.
One pinch of salt needed:
Stuart McCall will agree to be City manager today (Wednesday 16th of May 2007) or the job will be offered elsewhere.
Another pinch of salt needed:
Stuart McCall will agree to be City manager today.
McCall has spoken to BBC Radio Sheffield today and talked about the contract offer to Neil Warnock and how it is not acceptable to the Blades manager. Following that McCall intimated that should Warnock go he would leave also.
It would seem that McCall is split between head that tells him to see what falls down at Sheffield United and heart that pushes him back to Bradford. Significantly Mrs McCall favours the heart.
City are believe to have investment – proper investment that comes with support as Peter Etherington once promised but most definitely not Etherington – coming in the not at all distant future and that investment is offering something more to McCall than League Two and an empty bank account. City are not looking at having cash to splash but – as BfB understands it and considering the income streams the club has built – enough to stop the reliance on Julian Rhodes’s handouts for survival and perhaps some squad building cash.
Still more salt:
McCall has been in informal talks. McCall knows about the investment. McCall is looking at both City and Sheffield United and it is not cut and dried.
On the day that one ginger midfielder said he would love to come back – Paul Bolland of Grimsby wants to rejoin the Bantams and rumour has it that Huddersfield’s Chris Brandon is keen to have a word too – the other one has a decision to make about his future.
Failing McCall there is a list of names: Peter Beagrie, Lee Sinnott of now Conference side Farsley Celtic, Roy McFarland, Peter Jackson and on and on. Failing McCall there is a list of names but McCall has never failed us in the past.
I once read a book, well I’ve read more than one book but this is the one I’m talking about, and I can’t remember what it was called but it was about a guy who had an earwhigg that had crawled into one of his ears and was digging through to the other side and the guy who had this thing in his ear kept having these memories sparked off my the earwhigg as it went through and finally it popped out the otherside of the guy’s brain and the horror was over only it wasn’t cause the insect was a female and had laid eggs and so it would happen again and again…
That is pretty much how Wigan Athletic fan’s should be feeling right now.
Before I say this I’m going to say that I’m sure that Chris Hutchings is a great bloke and he is a good coach but there is no way the guy is a Premiership manager cause I saw every one of his 12 Premiership games and most of his Intertoto cup ties, he won some of them, and I can say better than anyone just how little he was able to get to grips with managing a team.
Charlton away spings to mind where City wandered around the field trying to make up for the big hole around Dan Petrescu where the Romanian “Legend” stood stock still not caring.
After Manchester United away I got disciplined for searing at my boss cause we lost 6-0 and the reason we lost 6-0 was because Hutchings could not see that he needed to play a 451 at Old Trafford.
We all like to point the finger for who was to blame for City’s team going tits up in the Premiership and everyone in the world points at Geoffrey Richmond but in that six weeks of madness Richmond got together the most talented squad ever given to a Bradford City manager and he gave it to Chris Hutchings.
Matt Clarke, Gunnar Halle, David Wetherall, Andy O’Brien, Wayne Jacobs, Robbie Blake, Stuart McCall, Gareth Whalley, Peter Beagrie, Benito Carbone and Dean Windass and if you want more beef add Peter Atherton to the midfield and Static Ash as a non-scoring forward if you must. Throw in David Hopkin if you think that he was a perfectly good player until the second he walked into Valley Parade and remember how Lee Mills was dumped for a player who cost twice as much and was half as good (He means Ashley Ward again, Ed.) Richmond got together the most talented squad ever given to a Bradford City manager and he gave it to Chris Hutchings and Hutching squandered it.
I’m not putting everything at the door of Chris Hutchings cause that would be unfair but the man had the best Bradford City team every and got one of the best performances ever out of it against Chelsea and then like some rabbit in headlights got flattened by the Premiership.
Has he improved since? Wigan had better hope so.
Whatever it is that Hutch does on the training field and Paul Jewell says it is a load he does not do it as manager. As a manager he lacks ideas and imagination. He is low profile to the point of head scratching and this is not about him not having played for England it is about the way that he does not offer leadership for the players.
Dave Whelan obviously sees the same things in him as Geoffrey Richmond did. What does it say about GR that his mistakes are being made again? I hope for Chris Hutchings sake he has a better time of it as boss of Wigan than he did at City or after Paul Jewell’s six months off I think he might find his old number two ready and waiting for a job.
The sight of Paul Jewell celebrating keeping Wigan in the Premiership was confirmation. He could have dnoe it, he would have done it. He would have kept City in the Premiership and would probably have stopped six days let alone six weeks of madness. He resigned from Wigan Athletic in shorter time than he did Valley Parade having proved the point to all.
Jewell is probably England’s finest manager and should he end up at Newcastle United or Manchester City or should Liverpool bin Rafa and give the job to the old boy then no one would find a finer motivator of players.
Wigan’s calmness in the 2-1 win over Sheffield United proved this. Jewell gets his players up for a game not in blood and thunder but in a cool ability to continue playing the game the right way even under pressure. Paul Scharner’s finish typified Jewell as much as Mills or Blake’s goals at Wolves did.
He leave Wigan, as he did City, in a ridiculously better position than when he found them and one hopes Dave Whelan’s reaction is no the same as Geoffrey Richmond’s but one would not be surprised if it was.
How much of the £50m war chest would Wigan have to spend to make up for what they have lost? I suspect that war chest is not deep enough. The millions we gave for Benito Carbone, Dan Petrescu, Ashley Ward et al could not come close to fixing the hole caused by the departure of the gaffer.
Jewell could have everything needed as a manager – he needs to show he can work with bigger budgets and bigger players which is probably why he has moved on – but he lacks loyalty. It has taken him seven years to prove his second year in the Premiership credentials and still Whelan’s bombastism questions Jewell’s ability to get on with the people who give him his jobs.
Nevertheless for now Jewell will hope to make a better step this time than he did last when he exited City for the mire of Sheffield Wednesday but even should he make that mistake again one suspects his reputation as a manager equipt for the last day heroic will survive.
Jewell, eyeing the big time, wants more.
There is a school of thought on message boards and forums that has it that Gordon Gibb is preparing to ride to the rescue of Bradford City with a huge financial investment which would see him take control of the club to protect his asset – Valley Parade – and catapult the team back to glory.
Frankly I wish I had some of what those people are drinking. Gordon Gibb is not the white knight riding to our rescue. In fact Gordon Gibb would not know one side of a white horse from the other and the investment he has in Valley Parade is as much his sister’s as his and belongs to a pension fund.
Nevertheless BfB understands that some kind of investment is coming and coming soon. Julian Rhodes has been in talks with a guy with a bob or two and the upshot would seem to be that his time as the man holding the weight of Bradford City on his own may be coming to an end. I doubt the phrase White Knight should be used – should it ever be applied to someone preparing for the thankless task of football ownership – but maybe Knighthood is a good metaphor to use.
For a long time Bradford City – as a whole rather than a group of directors or owners – have operated a kind of Quixotic belief that the club would flourish on the basis of a couple of decisions taken in popularist ways. For the La Mancha windmills read the managers of Valley Parade. Each one slain would prove something, would right some wrong, but never did.
In League Two we face up to reality and that reality is that any investment in the club from another owner needs to be matched by a reality check around the ground. I’ve spoken too long about atmosphere and development of players in that environment, about expectations and setting them to reasonable levels and about good old fashioned get behind the lads support. I honestly believe that without these things being addressed then money into City is wasted. I honestly believe that a very good start addressing these would be to appoint Stuart McCall.
It is a commonly held belief that McCall would have become City manager had we not been relegated this season and from what BfB understand this is the case but McCall has issued
no comments rather than denials and – as he faces up to trying to keep Sheffield United in the Premiership as assistant tomorrow afternoon – is torn between his head which tells him to coach at The Blades until a top two divisions job comes up or follow his heart back to Valley Parade.
For inspiration perhaps McCall will look ten years to his left tomorrow to Paul Jewell who took City and Wigan and made his own Premiership clubs. Had Jewell not taken brave decisions with his career then he would not be considered the manager he is today. League Two to anywhere is a huge ask but City need McCall and he knows it but without him City’s future looks bleak.
McCall’s thinking time has the same clock as the investment and Julian Rhodes’s desire to announce a new manager – read into that what you will – and those who are in the know say that it is not as cut and dried as
he won’t come cause we went down and in situations such as these the murkiness of uncertainty is better than assured defeat.
On the way to Leeds early Friday morning – 7:45 – and I call to pay respects at the memorial which I find behind a large truck being jet washed by a guy who meets my confused look with an entirely inappropriate beaming smile.
Around my the lawns of Centenary Square are being cut in the rain. The noise is loud against the morning quiet and I’m wondering why this day was chosen for these activities?
I’m wondering whom in Bradford Council believes it is a good idea to leave preparations for the service that would follow in the day three hours before and why they feel they can exclude people in the not unique position of going from Bradford to our neighbouring City for work from paying respect.
Ben Muirhead has been released by Bradford City bringing to an end a turbulent five year connection between player and club that say him signed, released, signed again and go from favourite to failure to favourite to great white hope before his career with the club petered out.
Muirhead was signed from Manchester United and wasted no time in impressing with his right wing play that recalled the buccaneering style of Jamie Lawrence. At Turf Moor he ripped Burnley apart in a 2-1 win and he looked a huge threat for Nicky Law’s team.
However for all his exciting front foot play Ben had a number of flaws in his game – he would give the ball away when charging forward rather than win continued possession, he would try the impossible cross rather than winning the odd throw in – and these problems soon saw him benched as Law’s team struggled and Nicky Summerbee offered more crossing.
Nevertheless his flair cameos made sure he stayed popular and under Bryan Robson one Manchester United number seven told another how to play and he returned a Ben all about the end product.
He was the Ben Muirhead of forcing corners and tidy football and for a while that seemed to impress some however as his game improved the tide seemed to turn and – as famously identified by The City Gent’s John Watmough – “Ben” left and was replaced by “Muirhead”.
“Muirhead” was released as the club’s money problem mounted and Bryan Robson exited – he seemed to show most improvement under the famously good coach/bad manager that was Robson – only to be signed again as the club exited administration and start the next season well loved for his loyalty.
However while Muirhead was a better player for the team he seemed to lack the excitement of the flying winger Ben and he was not a regular feature in Colin Todd’s teams. By the time Jermaine Johnson and Omar Daley – both of whom could stand accused of all the worst and best points of Ben’s early play – arrived at the club the sun had set on Ben’s career at City and he was loaned to Rochdale.
His release from Bradford City comes at the end of that season and no doubt Rochdale will be interested in signing him – he scored three in nine games – after which we will no doubt see him again next year.
At such point – with the distance of opposition – we may discover if that winger is “Muirhead” or “Ben” after all.
The need for Bradford City to change focus from a club that buys to a club that produces players has been obvious at Valley Parade for some time and the fruits of that policy – first voiced by Gordon Gibb but continued through the investment in the youth set up – are becoming apprarant as the Bantams offered new deals to Tom Penford, Simon Ainge, Joe Colbeck and Craig Bentham.
The four – who all featured in David Wetherall or Colin Todd’s selections last season – are offered new deals while cohorts Joe Brown, Patrick McGuire, Nick Smith and John Swift are released.
The mystery of the stunted development of John Swift will remain at Valley Parade. Impressive in the first team on his debut under Colin Todd and a mouth on committed leader of the juniors who played well in the reserves something – and one doubts is was the performances of Richard Edghill – stood in Swift’s way.
Joe Brown’s release comes after his shined as a bright young thing but failed to nail down a place in the first team squad. Both Brown and Nick Smith are released to allow a more clear path through the ranks for seventeen year old Leon Osborne who featured in the last game of the year. Such a process – of setting a bar for the young players to beat and backing them when they do – replacing them should they not – maintains a healthy demand for continued improvement in the ranks.
Of the retained players Ainge looks ready for a place in the starting eleven next term and Bentham and Colbeck are already considered squad players. Penford has ability to spare as a succession of managers have believed and one hopes that with the exits of Marc Bridge-Wilkinson and perhaps Steven Schumacher he can turn that ability into performance.
Bridge-Wilkinson, Schumacher, Richard Edghill and Xavier Barrau are waiting for a new manager to be installed – something expected within two weeks – before being offered deal. Schumacher and Barrau are thought to be ready to sign, Edghill to be thinking over an offer from Macclesfield and Bridge-Wilkinson to be Port Vale bound.
Russell Howarth has also been released with Ben Saynor stepping up to number two goalkeeper.
The Premiership Needs To Employ Richmondesque Thinking Over The Webster Ruling For The Good Of Us All
Back in the summer of 2001 Geoffrey Richmond – in his position on the board of the Football League – offered a deal to the clubs. For a three week period no one would make a transfer while the contracts for the entire playing squads of all teams were ripped up and new ones written that took into account the failure of ITV Digital and attempted to circumnavigated the collapse in transfer fees that would bring about wide spread administration.
As a name Andy Webster is less exotic than Jean-Marc Bosman but it will be written in football history in the same way. Webster’s move from Hearts to Wigan – buying up his own contract after the protected period FIFA has built into it’s contract model – will be no less revolutionary for football.
Webster tested the rule in the post-Bosman FIFA wide contract model that said that for players under 28 the protected period – which is to say the time where a player is tied to the club he signed a contract with – is three years and after serving a fifteen day notice period the player is free to leave for a club in another country which when joining Paul Jewell’s Wigan was exactly what Andy Webster did.
So for the balance of his contract as dictated by the wage he would have been paid had he stayed Webster left and while Hearts screamed that they would have charged seven figures for the player they got just £625,000.
Today Andy Webster tomorrow whom? Frank Lampard’s much talked about move to Barcelona would be a snip for the Catalans if all they had to do with multiple Lampard’s wage to the years left on his contract rather than waiting to see how much the club that needs no more money want for it’s talisman. The likes of Xabi Alonso, Cesc Febregas et al could see a short cut to a way home.
The Premiership, however, is a long way away from League Two and such matters would not affect City in the short term. With two of the ninety-two heading in administration this week football can ill afford another transfer value meltdown and such a black hole of money is the last thing that financially precarious City need right now.
Mark Bower’s move to Burnley will probably keep the coffers full for another year but if Burnley cannot sell to a lower Premiership club who ca not sell to a higher club then the whole chain falls apart.
So what is to be done?
The Premiership chairmen need to take up the same spirit that Geoffrey Richmond and his Coventry co-hort and similarly reviled chairman Bryan Richardson had and find a way for the club’s to address this hole in the contract law to ensure that the trickle down of transfer fees does not end. Perhaps the moves that Richmond et al proposed would be too drastic, to risky, for the clubs but similar thinking needs to be employed as part one of this solution. The Spanish league has had for many years built-in buyout clauses that allow a player to leave for a price agreed at the start of the contract.
For the second part when “doing a Webster” becomes the new Bosman football clubs need to ensure that they do not address the compensation and cheaper players issue by piling the funds into the contracts making them prohibitively expensive to buy out but further fueling wage inflation from the ludicrous to the impossible.
Richmond and co failed in their proposal and as a result Bradford City and 34 other clubs came close to going out of business. Think of football as an injured player limping until he reaches half time. How many more challenges is he going to take before we send on a physio? How many more before the injury ends his career?
David Wetherall added his weight to the calls for Stuart McCall to become the next manager of Bradford City and while the former Bantams skipper is keeping his own council it does seem that there is a growing momentum that will install he ginger one as the gaffer at VP.
McCall spent yesterday at Oakwell as the best player on the park in a Bantams legends vs Barnsley match to mark ten years since the Tykes went to the Premiership. He was asked and dodged the question as to if he was to be the new City boss. He has to focus on Sunday when either he or former boss Paul Jewell will probably be relegated from the Premiership. It would be unwise for him to talk other jobs at this point but he only has a week left at Sheffield United before his contract is up.
At 42 he looked a tidy player on the field. His last game was a reserve match at Valley Parade against City – McCall going out of professional football as he came in and on that day as yesterday he plays with vigour combined with smarts. Watching Stuart McCall play has been a joy in my life.
Watching him manage I’m hoping for. I think we need it. Should he come in the summer then he will look at his charges as a depleted unit in need of re-enforcing.
Donovan Ricketts between the sticks has probably made enough mistakes to remain at the club next term but really he deserves a higher level. Russell Howarth has never impressed nor looked worth giving a chance to. If the Jamaica number one is still at City next year then the incoming gaffer could have the best sticksman in League Two.
At right back Richard Edghill is thought to be on his way and John Swift is absent without leave. Swift looks and talks the part in the juniors and reserves and his failure to ascend is an enduring mystery at VP. The new manager would be advised to go to Swift over the uncommitted Edghill but will probably end up bringing in a new face.
At left back word has it Ben Parker is ready to join with his own team – Leeds United – having hit the skids hard. Parker is a player of some potential – not in the bracket of a Nathan Doyle or a Lee Holmes but good enough for this level and above – and so the next manager would do well to sign him.
The next manager will hope to have the previous manager to call on in David Wetherall but will probably be looking for another partner as Mark Bower moves to the Championship – Burnley and Stoke are interested and figures of £450,000 have been mentioned – but the pace and presence of Simon Ainge is worth giving a chance to. Ainge was called on periodically though the season and never looked less than impressive. Certainly he seems more able than the League Two stalwart Matthew Clarke.
Should the next manager be McCall then he will look to his own position – holding midfield – as being underused by the previous two managers. Neither Colin Todd nor David Wetherall favoured a break up man and both tried to mesh two more attacking players into the midfield. Craig Bentham is City’s only McCall and for sure he should be the number four next season regardless of who the gaffer is.
The opportunity to link Marc Bridge-Wilkinson and Steven Schumacher is probably over with MBW reported to be rejoining Port Vale. Schumacher is thought to be ready to return but might rethink when he gets City’s contract offer. Tom Penford – who has a season cameo on Saturday – is of course a favourite of this parish and could do a job replacing MBW were he given a chance. I can only hope he will be.
Omar Daley and Joe Colbeck are both contracted beyond the summer leaving the next manager with a Ben Muirhead too many on the right wing. On the left Xaviar Barrus will hope for a contract and should a new manager favour a 442 then it is probably a good idea to do more than nominally look at the idea of having a pair of left wingers to use.
One of the failures of managers at City and beyond is believing that the left wing role is to be given to a third striker – Danny Cadamarteri springs to mind – leading to a huge gap appearing in front of the left back and very little coming forward. If we are to raid down the flanks we need proper left wingers to do it with.
Up front Dean Windass will exit stage left for the right price with Hull City his probably destination. Spencer Weir-Daley is hoping to have impressed City into offering him a two year deal and the word that has reached our BfB ear is that he has done that. Joe Brown is looking over his shoulder at Saturday’s sub Leon Osborne who is pushing for a role up in the squad.
The top four of League Two this year are the bottom four of League One the year before. Bouncing back is common place but to do that City’s new manager is going to have to take the picked over bones of the club and build a team.
The experience of the past few years suggests that building teams out of loan players is an ultimately fruitless exercise. The likes of Richard Edghill – jobbing footballers signed to 18 month deals – are also hardly likely to be the stuff of success either.
The next manager needs to make a squad that is able to play the kind of committed football that McCall typifies. To do that we need to think beyond temporary players and start to make some long term deals.
We need to start putting faith back into the players – be bold and mighty forces will come to you aid – and to do that we need to put our faith in a manager we want to employ for more than the statutory Bradford City sixteen months.
Julian Rhodes. You know what you have to do.
Bradford City 2 Millwall 2 At Valley Parade in League One, 2006/2007
There was something refreshingly ecstatic about Xaviar Barrau’s reaction to both his goals at Valley Parade in this 2-2 draw with Millwall on the final day of League One for Bradford City for a year at least. Barrau wheeled away twice in delight after twice giving the Bantams the lead in a game which could not have had less meaning had it been played as a friendly but still seemed to warm the heart.
Heart warming first was the immaculate silence for the 56 supporters of 11th of May, 1985 observed at both ends of the ground. Whatever reputation Millwall supporters have they got some marks in the plus column at 2:58 on Saturday afternoon.
David Wetherall’s reputation seems to have survived his first spell in management. In the post game walk around he is applauded for his efforts over the past fourteen games and the past seven years and should this be his final game in management at this club then one hopes he can get a go elsewhere at some point. Wetherall is backing his predecessor as captain to be his follower as manager saying
“I would be absolutely delighted if we got Stuart McCall here as manager. I haven’t got a clue if it is going to happen, but I think that it would create such an interest in the club and around the city that it could only be good for Bradford City. With Stuart McCall in charge we could get the club going in the right direction and I could play a part in that on the pitch and not from the dugout.”
Wetherall’s last act as City gaffer was to use a 433 formation – unseen since the days of Jim Jefferies and Bryan Robson – to make up for the holes left in the side when Wetherall calmed down following last week’s fury following the Chesterfield capitulation. Billy Paynter and Spencer Weir-Daley were absent leaving a forward line of Joe Colbeck, Omar Daley and Barrau in front of a midfield of Steven Schumacher and Tom Penford sitting atop Craig Bentham who protected a back four of Edghill, Mark Bower out of sorts and position on what could be his final game for the club, Matthew Clarke and Ben Parker. Donovan Ricketts kept goal.
The result was a City team more capable going forward than has been seen in recent weeks but susceptible at the back. Twice Barrau gave the Bantams a lead which was pegged back in short time by the visitors who punch for punch looked no better than the team that will start life as a League Two club next term.
None of which is to suggest that City unveiled a prototype for promotion next term but rather that given the chance and without the pressure it could at least be enjoyable to watch the Bantams again. The first half was satisfying until Joe Colbeck knocked in a low cross just before half time that Barrau muscled a defender for and blasted into the bottom corner. Barrau charged to the bench to celebrate with David Wetherall and as he ran a season of frustrations seemed to drift away behind him.
At some point we have to zero the clock on this club and start from even. Let it be now.
Millwall equalised a minute after half time after making a sly substitution and slipping on an extra forward without telling anyone. The extra man snuck in behind Mark Bower as the left footer played on the right hand side and the annoying but reasonabiliy ammusing Darren Byfield beat Donovan Ricketts.
Nevertheless City had a sort of dominance attacking with some flair down the right and pace down the centre. Omar Daley charged at centrebacks all afternoon and at one point freed Joe Colbeck who slipped the ball into the path of Barrau for the Frenchman to fire into the top corner and celebrate equally exuberantly as Lenny Pidgely in the visitor’s goal blasted a poor linesman suspecting offside. Within two minutes Millwall were level following a cheap free kick poorly defended and a low shot by Tony Craig.
City had the chances to win the game notably when Steven Schumacher – more on whom later – blasted over following good work and when Barrau was felled in the box sparking a scuffle that saw the Frenchman booked and butted by goalscorer Craig. Wetherall gave sixteen-year-old Leon Osborne a debut in the place of Daley and withdrew an injured Joe Colbeck who despite setting up both goals was lightly booed by a section of supporters than shall henceforth be know in a knowingly supercilious manner as “The Idiots”.
“The Idiots” will always have a voice at City – the have not learned after forcing Dean Windass on his way – but hopefully the more bums on seats Julian Rhodes and his cheap seats can get next term the more they will be marginalised to a point where their voices are counter-productive whimpers not destructive shouts. “The Overtly Sensitive” can join them for all I care. Yes Steven Schumacher used some shop floor language to City fans last week but having been in football crowds for the last twenty five years I can guarantee he has had worse said to him and frankly to use his slip into effing and jeffing as a stick to beat him is the worst kind of politicking.
If a person does not care for the way Schumacher players or the performances he has then say it. Anything else I pretty much could not care less about.
Next season will be different. Different team, different manager, different supporters, different atmosphere hopefully – more like the backing off the post lobbing a ball around ten minutes at VP today please – and different heroes and favourites. Exuberant knack for goal scoring and joy at getting a goal? Different Dean Windass too by the look of things, and this one is a Frenchman.
We always worried that the final day of the League One season this year woudl have City having nothing to play for but I doubt we ever thought it would be like this.
Colin Todd’s team is going to end up in mid-table mediocrity I recall people saying. Perhaps Todd put that on his CV as a plus point judging by how we have plummeted since he left.
To be fair to David Wetherall and Julian Rhodes it would seem that City – Todd and all – have been dodging bullets for years and failed to this term. We start in League Two next year because that is the way that we are being pushed and yes that is down to finance and yes that is boring to read and only half of the truth but there it is.
So news this week that Julian Rhodes is talking to investors is music to the ears. The scale and feasibility of investment in the past nine years – since The Rhodes Family in fact – has been risible so a measured approach would probably be best. If someone wants to help with the rent then that is cool but if someone is coming to buy players then let us not fall for it again. It is a year since Peter Etherington was going to put us in the Championship. Look what happened.
Rhodes wants a new manager in place within three weeks and will be talking to Stuart McCall about the job so this could be David Wetherall’s final game as gaffer. He has Donovan Ricketts in goal and Ricketts had made enough mistakes this term to suggest he will still be around next. Richard Edghill is probably going to get a final game although John Swift would be – in my humble opinion – a better option. Wetherall’s mistake is fielding too many players who have no investment in the future of the club. He needs to start to look at the players who will be around next season so like Swift Simon Ainge should play and probably will in place of Wetherall who will step down to sub.
This could be his last game at Valley Parade – he deserves a rapture of applause when he appears.
Mark Bower is fancied by Burnley so this could be his final game. Ben Parker at left back will return to Leeds but may be back as they lose players. He his a decent player and would be welcome.
Omar Daley, Joe Colbeck or Ben Muirhead have the two flanks – perm any two from three they all have their merits. Steven Schumacher is forgiven for swearing at City fans last week – tempers were frayed – so take the midfield role with Tom Penford. I’m a confirmed fan of Penford’s cool midfield calm and believe he should have been considered long before this stage of the season. Eddie Johnson is out injured.
Billy Paynter and Joe Brown are expected to start up front with Spencer Weir-Daley returning to Nottingham Forest. Weir-Daley may return next season – rumour has it we have offered him a two year deal – and should Paynter be kicking his heels should he be released from Southend then he would be welcome too.
Billy Paynter and Spencer Weir-Daley are expected to start up front with Joe Brown and Nick Smith standing by in case Weir-Daley’s injury problems continue. Weir-Daley may return next season – rumour has it we have offered him a two year deal – and should Paynter be kicking his heels should he be released from Southend then he would be welcome too.
Welcome too no doubt is the break. Next season needs to be so much better.
With events off the field proving far more dramatic than that on it in recent years, it appears we’re all set for yet another summer where we won’t be able to keep our eyes off what’s happening at Valley Parade.
Fortunately this summer is unlikely to be as traumatic as others, but still hints of carrying far too much significance in shaping the season ahead then what goes on during the winter months at Appleby Bridge. And as we supporters prepare to say goodbye to another season on Saturday, it could potentially be a very different Bradford City we welcome back in August.
A change in manager seems highly probable. Julian Rhodes has had to be careful with his words this week, but his hopes of still luring a certain Premiership assistant manager betray any firm belief that caretaker manager David Wetherall is the man to revive this ailing club. Wetherall remains in contention, but his chances depend on others saying “no”. He has already hinted that a full time appointment might lead to him hanging up his boots and, with Mark Bower rumoured to be catching the eye of The Dingles; Wetherall the player might be needed more than Wetherall the gaffer.
What of the chances of Stuart accepting an offer to manage his first love? The story I’ve heard is he was prepared to take the job should City have survived, so it remains unclear what appeal the job now has. Last September, Stuart spoke of his aim to leave Sheffield United at the end of this season and take the plunge into management. No one could argue taking the reigns of City would require his heart to rule his head, although news of potential investment might make his ears prick up.
According to Julian Rhodes, talks are taking place with a few interested parties. It remains to be seen who these people are, but one potential investor could even be prepared to buy out the Rhodes family. Given the never-ending struggle to pay the bills and recent criticism from some supporters, few could begrudge Julian for handing over the reigns and reverting back to being a supporter like the rest of us.
Even if nothing happens, City hardly face the stiffest of opposition next year. Some of the headlines this week have focused that City won’t have much money to mount a promotion bid. Who does at this level? We had a wage bill ranked midtable for League One this season and even a reduction in this area shouldn’t handicap City’s chances too severely. Our ability to attract decent League Two players should also be greater than that of some of our new rivals.
Dean Windass won’t be staying, but City should still be able to command a decent transfer fee for him. There is pressure from the Hull fans for the Championship club to sign up their old favourite and City should enter the negotiating table in a strong position. The only worry is if there are any agreements in place for knocking the original loan fee off any future transfer fee, which we will suddenly get to hear about.
That leaves just six other professionals still in contract, giving the manager plenty of room for manoeuvre. There will be a few goodbyes after Saturday and, given how poor the team has played this season, certain players won’t be missed should they be looking for a new club this summer. The squad that begins life in League Two is likely to be very different, with new heroes and new villains to get used to.
So come August, City could be starting a new season with a vastly revamped squad, a new manager and new owners. Even the crowd won’t feel the same with an extra couple of thousand turning up each week. There’s still one last game to go and it’s not clear who we should be biding farewell to against Millwall. One last singsong, one last dismal defeat (probably), one last flourish of boos or cheers and we will all go our separate ways.
We supporters are the only ones definitely coming back next season. It’s doubtful we will be switching off from events at Valley Parade in the meantime.
League Two is beginning to settle into my mind. I’ve done a look up and down the list of teams – nothing very impressive – and I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason we are going to be at the same level as Rochdale is that the characterlessness of the club means we deserves to be at the level of Rochdale.
Characterlessness I’ll qualify. This season City have been subject to some appalling and frankly biased refereeing decisions and have had a share of bad luck that hampers most teams. Our reaction to these knock downs has been to hug the canvas for as long as possible. There are many reasons for this – too many loan players, a change in manager, losing key members of the squad, injuries, a hostile crowd, an inequity in the structure of the game – but few would argue that it is the case.
To escape this League Two the club is going to need major work and prime in that work is the appointment of a manager. Julian Rhodes wants someone in the chair by the end of May and he wants to talk to Stuart McCall about the job.
It is probably clear that City need McCall more than McCall need City but need him we do. No other names suggest themselves as being able to have the sea-change in atmosphere – who would boo a McCall team? McCall would get the shield of bullet-proofness for longer than other managers and might actually get some work done – and culture at the club.
Adding McCall to City could put a few thousand bums on seats, it could get people behind the club again. It could be the answer to all the minor problems that have added up to a major crisis for this club.
Make no mistake Julian Rhodes cannot keep bank rolling a City side that loses him money. We need McCall to return to kick-start all the things we need to turn the club around. We need a manager whom people want to do well rather than the procession of gaffers who it seems failure was almost welcomed for. I heard
I don’t mind if we lose cause then Todd will be sacked far too many times last year.
However it is said that McCall would not want to join a League Two club. That relegation has cut off our chances of getting the number four for his third stay at VP. Perhaps so.
To that all I can say is that Bradford City is in dire need – in dire need for the changes that McCall could bring – and should he decided as he has a right to that he can watch the club flounder from afar in what is in a very real and very serious way our hour of need then perhaps I hold him in too high regard.
A club’s legend – this club’s legend – needs to be prepared to get hands dirty otherwise what is the point of being the legend?
Bradford City’s problem since the McCall/Paul Jewell/Geoffrey Richmond days has been a critical lack of leadership. A McCall led City have a chance to establish a direction again – to rally under a banner so lacking under Colin Todd or Nicky Law – and stop the backbiting and arguments that go along with every game. Valley Parade could unify behind Peter Beagrie or John Hendrie but it would be behind McCall and the divisiveness of the last seven years could be put to rest.
Beagrie, Hendrie, Chris Wilder, Wayne Jacobs. Other managers could turn around the club but McCall – with the status he would bring – has the best chance to avoid a future in which attendances dwindle, in which Rhodes can no longer fund a club making less and less money every year, which is so far away from the top table of English football that the risible, lamentable trickle down hardly registers.
In the twenty five years since we were last in the bottom division football has changed beyond recognition. For most of those twenty-five years we put the club on a progressively higher footing but – and apologies to the sensibilities on this but it is a grim fact – we are at a storm front in football where the haves have and the have nots are swept away.
Twenty-five years ago we were in the have nots by some degree. We rose into the haves of the Premiership and the Championship and black balance sheets and entertaining football, we need to get back not just to have a better future but to have a future.
Twenty-five years ago when City started our last campaign in the bottom division in the first game we have a debut at right back to a 16 year old picked up after being released.
You can guess what his name was?