19th Nervous Breakdown

Nothing I do don’t seem to work/It only seems to make matters worse

It is almost impossible to explain how I felt as I applauded Stuart McCall’s lap of the Valley Parade pitch yesterday. The air of inevitability that such a walk conveyed left me choked for the man, the team, the club and the end of a dream that I and so many others had shared. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

The results don’t lie. This was the nineteenth game this season that City had failed to win and it had an air of desperation about it. The players put in all the effort that had made much of this season such a joy to be part of – even when we didn’t win – but everything they tried came to nothing against a Bury side that were solid and focussed. The longer the game went on the worry that this was yet another game we would fail to win grew. And so it was to be.

But why am I even thinking about match analysis? The news that Stuart felt it was time for someone else to try as manager hurts more than any result has done this season. The feelings I have about this particular change of manager are illogical, irrational and ill-suited to a man of my mature years but I just don’t want him to go in this way.

No one person is bigger than a club. Managers have to go at some point. Sentiment is not always good for business. I could carry on trotting out these platitudes for any club in the country – and believe them – but when it comes to Bradford City and Stuart McCall they sound so hollow that they echo. Emotion overrides common sense. But isn’t emotion what supporting a football team is all about? If I (and, it seems, a number of others) feel this way, how must the man himself feel? I can’t begin to imagine but I know I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Those who detected a sense of relief in his statements yesterday may be consoling themselves that it is best all round but I can’t buy that right now.

So illogical and irrational, possibly even selfish feelings cloud my judgement, even having allowed myself a day to reflect, and I find myself clinging to the hope that somehow it won’t happen as it seems set to do. His name has rung round the ground so often before – and I am certain it will do again – it’s just that I can’t believe he won’t be there to hear it.

And what will it all achieve? Mid-table safety seems the best outcome no matter who is in the manager’s chair –caretakers or newcomers are hardly going to have more impact. With the pressure off the current manager, the chance of an improvement in results is just as likely as with someone new. What is to be gained by change now? What would be lost if the change was left until the end of the season? A (The) separation on Monday defeats the efforts of this year so far, defeats the efforts of those who urged Stuart to stay last season and defeats much of the good work done by the club over the last few years. A change at the end of a season allows dignity and respect to triumph over short term wishful thinking. Yes I know all these arguments have been rehearsed before but they are no less valid for that and I make no bones about using them again. My ticket for next season is already paid for and I will be there. But after the emotions of the end of last season, I paid for another season and another chance with Stuart McCall and I am old enough if not wise enough to accept both the good and the bad that any season provides

Maybe next week I will look at what I have written and appreciate just how illogical, irrational and selfish these words are but right now I can’t. Maybe next week I will turn up for the game and appreciate the importance of change but I doubt it. Seven days is not long enough to fill the hole in the dugout let alone the hole in my hopes. Whatever happens, thank you Stuart.

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