Where managers are not made

Peter Jackson’s finest hour was away at Morcambe. The then City manager put together a midfield of Jon Worthington and Michael Flynn which was resilient enough to battle in a tough game which was settled by the odd goal – a header from James Hanson.

City had some to spare too. Gareth Evans missed a penalty in the last minute and that should have been the conclusion of the afternoon but it was not. There was a moment, a moment when Jackson’s large black coat shifted and he turned with his fist raised uppercutting the sky in triumph.

Peter Jackson had arrived.

Stuart McCall was sick, literally sick, on the coach on the way back from Morecambe. He had seen his team take the lead through a scrambled goal by Matt Clarke and Peter Thorne had converted from short range but the Referee seemed to miss the ball crossing the line and it was cleared. Rene Howe gave the home side the winner, he was offside when he received the ball. Standing less than six foot from the linesman we saw the official’s flag raise and then fall indecisively. When the information got back to McCall he replied “I wish you had not told me that.”

City’s play-off push faltered at Morecambe although one might not have known that from the nonchalance hat players like Keith Gillespie, Paul McLaren and Chris Brandon showed. As McCall’s nerves brought their own gastric assault the players seemed to barely break sweat. They would not bust a gut for a manager who emptied his own.

His end came ten months later, that that was the start of the end for Stuart McCall.

Phil Parkinson starts his time as Bradford City manager in Morecambe. The new City boss was appointed on Monday but let Colin Cooper take charge of the win over Sheffield Wednesday. Cooper’s reward was – despite a rumour that said that he had become persona non grata at Valley Parade – to be told he would retain the position of assistant manager to Parkinson as he had been to Jackson.

It is heartening that Parkinson values the continuity that Cooper represents. A good manager values that. A good manager is also flexible. Parkinson is known for his tactics which Colin Todd called the death of football but he was also Arsene Wenger’s choice for assistant manager should Pat Rice have left. One might think that the Gooners can play a different way to Colchester United and that Parkinson would be adaptable enough to see that.

Certainly Peter Taylor did not have that adaptability. He arrived at Valley Parade with a team which tried a passing game and dismantled it as quickly as he could. Watching the last two Bradford games and it became clear that when the ball is on the grass City can play a bit. Morecambe will start to tell us if for Phil Parkinson the tactics define the team or the team the tactics.

Parkinson got to work at City quickly bringing in experienced keeper Matt Duke. Parkinson made it clear that he does not think a club can do much with an on loan goalkeeper and wants his own senior man between the sticks. There are few examples of a team doing well with an on loan keeper – although City’s history offers Jon Gould at Wembley – and Parkinson’s first decision could be his wisest. Duke is expected to come straight into the side, Oscar Jansson to return to Spurs soon.

Liam Moore is not returning to Leicester City any time soon having signed an extension for his contract until the start of 2012 – perhaps Simon Ramsden will be fit then – which is a good reward for a player doing well. Also doing well after a shaky start is Guy Branston who has had his form pick up and – with Luke Oliver – is building an understanding. Steve Williams is hoping to be fit soon but both players deserves to keep their places. Robbie Threlfall will continue at left back although it was good to see Luke O’Brien back on Tuesday night.

The midfield has two new faces with Kyel Reid and Jamie Devitt both coming in. The pair are both wingers and seem to have ended Michael Bryan’s time at Valley Parade – the Watford winger has made little impact since he arrived from Vicarage Road – and but one hopes not Jack Compton who has done well in his first month at Valley Parade.

Compton is expected to take a place on the left with Devitt hoping to get a chance on the right – Reid has missed out on pre-season and is not at match fitness – although Chris Mitchell’s display against Barnet would justify his selection. Richie Jones and Michael Flynn are expected to continue in the middle.

Paul Benson moved nowhere in the transfer window with Parkinson saying that the player wanted more than his club – and it seems AFC Bournemouth – were prepared to pay and I cannot say that this worries me. James Hanson proved against Barnet that if there is supply for him then he will score and not only that but that he can make the most of different types of supply. Hanson’s converting of the low cross, rising at the far stick, whellying from the edge of the box shows a player of some variety. I’d rather have him than Paul Benson.

I would rather have Mark Stewart too who is the only centreforward who I have seen be given two standing ovations without scoring. Stewart’s running, his intelligence, his interplay with the midfield are a big factor in the season turnaround. Ross Hannah cools his heels waiting.

Parkinson waits too. What will his Morecambe be? The gut-wrenching down of Stuart McCall, the high water mark of Jackson. Time will tell, managers are not made at Morecambe.

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