Issue The ire at directed Mark Lawn

As told by Michael Wood

The day after Stuart McCall left Bradford City and Mark Lawn started the process of looking for a new manager got off to a bad start for the joint chairman. Comments in the T&A over night – which were repeated on City’s own site – saw Lawn practically confirm that if McCall had not gone he would have been sacked.

As a statement it as crass as it gets – imagine Charles saying that if Diana had not died he would have had her bumped off anyway – and added to the anger that is building against the half of the City board who seemed most keen to replace the manager. Lawn no doubt has many reasons he could air why he did not want McCall to remain City manager and no doubt like Vanessa Perroncel will one day spill the beans.

The problem with the McCall debate was – in many ways – McCall himself with the confusion between backing the man and the idea of retaining a manager – be he The Legend or anyone – often muddying the waters. Losing McCall as a man is upsetting for the fans of City but changing the policy of management at the club on the head of a pin is something else.

Lawn will already know this being – it seems – an avid reader of the Official Message Board to a point where he talks on the need to end the anonymity of it. Lawn obviously pays more attention to it than I do and so I cannot imagine if McCall’s exit and talk of Peter Jackson as a short term replacement has gone down well or badly but my post bag has grave concerns.

Concerns about Lawn’s plans for the club. It seems he has been keen to change the manager for some time – correspondents conclude – so why do we now talk about short term appointments? Stuart McCall leaving the club was first put on the agenda by the former manager himself some ten months ago with his promise to leave should the club not reach the play-offs. Why then does it seem to have taken City by surprise to a point where they are waiting for CVs to land on the desk to find the best man rather than locating the best man and – considering Lawn more or less says that Stuart McCall would have been sacked on Monday – appointing him to the job today.

This is a very real problem for City. The nineteen games that remain offer enough points for us to see us trouble the bottom of the play-offs but they offer Grimsby Town enough to see them overhaul us and were we to mount the sort of run we did when Chris Hutchings took over as manager then there is no saying our points tally will be higher than the one amassed at Blundell Park.

Four months of uncertainty for players with a manager who may – or may not – be around next season and in all likelihood has never met them. If Stuart McCall struggled to find his best mix of the four central defenders on offer are we really not scared that someone who has probably never seen them play let alone met them might be picking the team?

City have gone from a point of some stability to an earthquake of randomness and Lawn is doing nothing to steady the club. Indeed the joint chairman himself has gone from that position.

On arriving at City he talked of the need for stability and the noises coming out of the club publicly mocked the number of managers who had been in the big chair in the last decade. Why then has Lawn abandoned that idea of stability – which is in practical definition retaining as much as you can from one time period to the next – and replaced it with an abyss of uncertainty?

What was that talk of stability if Lawn has been leaning towards a new manager for the whole of this season? Anyone who would define stability and backing as keeping the manager until results go against you simply does not understand the concepts involved in it and how they can improve a football club.

The ire directed at Lawn comes from some angry at what they perceive as a disrespectful stance to a man they respect in McCall and those people are significant for sure but in life people come and go and the club will get over the Stuart McCall/Mark Lawn divorce.

In addition to that unease – and perhaps more relevant – there is an idea that in promising stability and removing that in favour of nothingness Lawn has put his desire to remove McCall ahead of the good of the club, that he has no plan in place to improve the club after the obvious exit of McCall and that after promising stability and then working against such an aim a substantial number of Bradford City supporters who were behind Stuart and the club for the long term have been taken for a walk up the garden path.

These people stood on terraces and bought shirts which they wore as they travelled up and down the country behind a team that could be a hard watch for the last three years on the understanding that the club had a long term plan about building a club through determined, albeit slow, methods.

Mark Lawn might have appeased those who wanted rid of Stuart McCall but it is the people who nodded heads at the talk of stability who direct their ire at him now and demand an answer as to why three years of work has been thrown away in favour of what at present promises to be at best a substantial risk and, at worse, is nothing at all.