Issue Jackson starts work at City

As told by Michael Wood

If Bradford City’s board had been accused of short-term thinking in the past then those accusations are set into a new light and a new context by the decision to appoint Peter Jackson as manager on a week by week basis.

Jackson started work at Valley Parade today with a remit to prepare the team for Saturday’s visit to Gillingham. He might expect to be in charge for the visit of Rotherham on Tuesday night following and the trip to Morecambe on the weekend after but his time at the club is dependent on the interview process for the next manager.

If – one assumes – a manager is found then Jackson is moved on and in that context it is difficult to see what he offers the club over and above allowing Wayne Jacobs and Junior Lewis to caretake. That Wetherall is to be assisting Jackson – away from his other roles at the club – while Jacobs is paid to stay at home is nothing short is disgraceful.

David Wetherall assists Jackson who manages with a style that contrasts predecessor Peter Taylor sharply. During the time he spent at Huddersfield Town with Terry Yorath Jackson would rarely be seen at the training ground allowing the former City manager Yorath to take near total control of that side of the club, a point noted when Jackson was replaced by the more tracksuited Steve Bruce.

If the 49 year old maintains that division of labour then the players will train under Wetherall and have their tactical approach set by Jackson. Also in contrast to Taylor Jackson’s teams operate under a flexible tactical approach with the manager matching approach and attitude to the game before him and players he has available. Practicality rather than pragmatism which is perhaps suited to the role of week to week manager.

The role of week to week manager though seem to simply confuse.

If the aim is to provide an experienced hand on the tiller until a new appointment is made then could Peter Taylor not have been asked to stay until his replacement is made? He would be no less of a lame duck manager than Jackson is with every game potentially his last and the players knowing that it is not the man in the dug out they have to impress.

If the aim is to make a more stable ship by having an experienced manager on a week to week basis then Jackson’s arrival added Lewis and Jacobs’ exit seems to be unnecessarily upsetting for the club and the squad. For sure Jackson could have provided the change of voice while Wetherall, Lewis and Jacobs did whatever it was that Yorath did at Huddersfield but from Monday morning the players will have entirely different faces to deal with.

One might make argument that that is no bad thing considering the season to date, but one would have weigh that against the worry that the change will work out like Mark Cooper’s time at Peterborough, Peter Withe at Wimbledon or any other dozen and a half spells that produced one or two wins and a quick sack.

No matter who the week to week manager was it would carry a risk and bring a good deal of confusion and perhaps the best City fans can hope for as Jackson starts work is that his tenure is short and a full time manager with a contract and a remit to build the club over a long period is appointed as soon as one can be found.

One wonders if Jackson will be that man. His last contact with City of any major note was to use his position as Lewis Emanuel’s agent to (seemingly) try encourage the player to move to a Huddersfield Town team which a few months later he was managing and during his time at Huddersfield Town the former City skipper seldom seemed to show any affection for the club he served well for some years and then very poorly for two others.

But the many lays a wreath every May in private, away from the official ceremonies. Nothing is simple.

Peter Jackson starts work at Bradford City and he will probably be the manager next week, but might not be, and perhaps his appointment should be seen in that context. It is but twelve months since City last interviewed a bunch of managers, one doubts that Martin Allen, Jim Magliton and the others have changed that much in a year so there is no need to think that the process will be protracted.

Hopefully as he has most of his career Jackson will put the club on the path to staying in the same division but with players out of contract and decisions to be made on them – and with the very real risk of another summer building for a rush season or hoping for promotion – the Bantams have a pressing need to think beyond the week to week.