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With far too few games left in the season David Hopkin wandered off into mid-distance and Bradford City started looking for a new manager.

Since the transfer window emerged in football around ten years ago new managers have become a panacea. Where as once in the days of low success supporters would have called for a “Big Signing” would now they ask for a “New Manager”. Changing managers has become the de facto response because it is one of the only responses.

That Hopkin also subscribed to that view is odd but largely because we assume that the manager is the grown up in the room and when he behaves like one of his charges and exits our view on football becomes confused.

And so the vacancy at Valley Parade is obvious. Less obvious is the remit of the job.

Bus

Aggressively obnoxious football manager Steve Evans is a big man but despite that few would compare him to an actual bus. I am going to.

Steve Evans is to the Bradford City job what this large Red Bus is to politics. He is a promise made by a group of people about another group of people where the one cannot assure the other’s compliance.

For the past few years Evans has hovered over the City job with the understanding that were he given the role he would smash backsides until the players were, well, better and would win more.

This is a persistent meme in football supporters which originates at some point in the 1970s when the Gentleman managers of Bill Nic and Shankley gave way to the new breed of Brian Clough and Alex Ferguson who saw physical and verbal aggression as tools at their disposal. Those days are gone, a point underlined to all but the more borish by the more congenial style of Gareth Southgate’s approach in the run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. Nevertheless it is the more borish who perpetuate the meme and so it is pervasive.

I am wary about Faustian arrangements that suggest that one can realise a desire if only one will sell a tiny part of the soul precisely because they are Faustian.

Remit

The next Bradford City manager’s remit should not be to avoid relegation to League Two it should be to have an excellent team on the field in August 2020.

The squad which David Hopkin has left at Valley Parade, which was passed him him by a transfer committee that took over from a manager who had very little interest in building a squad in the long term is not only badly unbalanced but it is poorly prioritised.

Unbalanced in that it is festooned with attacking players which comes from poor prioritisation away from defending and, especially, defending by being able to win the ball back. There is nothing attacking about not having the ball.

It would be easy to blame this on the members of the transfer committee but the problem goes deeper. Football has forgotten this basic of the game with low rent tiki-takas and would be Sarriballers selling lower league chairmen on the idea that they will be the next Marcelo Bielsa. Occasionally they go to a club and are successful, most they are not.

Even managers think managers should leave clubs if success is not quick. The first generation of players who saw a fast turnaround of gaffers has now begun to manage. We shake our heads today but Hopkin’s time at the club as a player started when he was sounded out by Paul Jewell, played under Chris Hutchings, was injured for Stuart McCall and left under Jim Jefferies. He only played 11 games.

Hopkin, like many of his peers, has had a football career where management is entirely in the short term.

Long

To say “Bradford City need a manager who…”, and prescribe a set of features, needlessly complicates matters. All clubs need to employ people who have a stable approach to managing the resources generated.

Such a phrase goes well beyond the borders on the tedious but almost all the successful clubs in the Football League have this as a core value. In an environment where even the people who are doing the long term thinking expect to not be able to carry that thinking out there seems to be a benefit in creating an environment where all thinking is long term.

Want

At Barnsley away – because I am what is known as a “funny bugger” – when the first crack appeared in Hopkin’s revival I turned to a friend and quietly sung “We want our Edin back.”

No one feels the loss of Rahic but the loss of the things he talked about – about long term development of the team and about creating an identity around Valley Parade – are significant. Rahic’s failed to instill the values he and Stefan Rupp talked about bringing to the club but no values have replaced them.

It is not that Bradford City need a manager to have and be given time, it is that Bradford City need a manager to bring knowledge.

Question

The failure of Rahic was his inability to infuse his belief in others. Despite a turnover of staff on and off the field allow him to craft an environment he wanted no one but Rahic seemed to buy into Rahicism.

Bradford City – being Julian Rhodes and Stefan Rupp – should not pretend that they know how to make a successful football club and if they do you should not believe them.

The question the manager needs to be asked if they are being interviewed for the role is not how will they keep City in the division – those Yorkshire Puddings are already in the over, only time will tell if they will rise – but rather what City will look like in August 2020 or 2024 or 2029, and how we will get to that point.

Rhodes and Rupp need someone with domain knowledge on how to construct a successful club and they need that knowledge more than they need six wins between now and May.

Carlisle United defeat leaves City thinking about the punitive sacking

The Team

Jon McLaughlin | Stephen Darby, Rory McArdle, Andrew Davies, Matthew Bates | Gary Thompson, Gary Jones, Matthew Dolan, Adam Reach | Aaron McLean, James Hanson | Nathan Doyle, Kyle Bennett, Andy Gray

Let us, dear reader, forgo discussions of the 1-0 defeat to Carlisle United and move without flinching to the mainstay of this discussion. Should Phil Parkinson remain Bradford City manager?

I shall ruin the surprise. I think he should

I think he should but I think that a club and community that sacks Stuart McCall can sack anyone – Wembley or no Wembley – and unless there is a change in the boardroom that is the reality in which we live.

My contention on Parkinson is that he has the abilities that Bradford City need in a manager and that if he were not the current manager, and he were available, he would be the top of our list for the job.

We save ourselves the effort and the expense if we just ride out this bad run.

That idea is not one that has traction in the modern culture of football management which revolves around the punitive sacking and let us not make any mistake removing Phil Parkinson would be a punitive sacking.

You can hear it in how people talk about the idea. “One win in twenty one” they say (it is beginning to be a credible sample size) and then mumble about deserving better. The second half troubles me in this. Poor results, even poor performances, are not personal slights and trust no one who treats them as such.

Nevertheless the punishment for such a return is to be sacked. Why is that the so? Because received wisdom tells us it is so.

When I was younger (I was born in 1973) the idea of a rapid manager turnaround was a joke that was becoming a reality at the poorer run clubs. Now it is a truism that almost every manager is considered to be a dozen games away from being fired.

Arsene Wenger loses at City and there are calls for him to be sacked. He loses 5-1 at Liverpool and there are calls for him to be sacked. Someone notices that Arsenal have not won a trophy for a good few years and there are calls for him to be sacked. Spurs have sacked manager after manager as Arsenal stuck with Wenger and have never passed them. They simply burn resources in the changes.

What was a joke is the conversation that has seeped beyond the more tedious parts of Talk Sport into football culture like a drop of ink into water. It is everywhere now. As much in boardrooms as it is on Twitter. We even have a song about it.

If a manager suffers bad results he’ll be sacked in the morning.

Statistics say that bad form rights itself with or without punitive sackings but that hardly seems to be the point. Boardrooms can do very little in terms of direct action to be able to suggest they have a manifest control over the destinies of their teams.

Sacking a manager looks like action but seldom does it come with any change of policy and so aside from the cosmetics of looking like a boardroom is taking action the result of a punitive sacking is almost always negative.

Using Bradford City as an example we call recall Trevor Cherry was sacked as a punishment for bad form and replaced by Terry Dolan who seemed to do a better job taking the team to the edge of the top flight but he in turn was sacked for the same kind of poor run and the Bantams did not get lucky again and Terry Yorath did worse.

If Hutchings, Wetherall, and Jackson do not tell you what the impact of the punitive (rather than planned, from a policy change such as Geoffrey Richmond’s arrival) sacking is then an article by this writer never will.

But this writer would not make that case. Not only is it a pointless argument to have – the boardroom at Bradford City acts as it will – but it’s also not the reason to keep Parkinson.

We should keep Phil Parkinson as Bradford City manager because he is a hard working manager who knows how to bring success. It is not the only way to bring success but it is a proven way. He brings success by instilling a work ethic and having a set pattern of play which is rugged and practical.

I’ve seen more attractive teams playing football although rarely ones with more character, but the fact that those things are the right things to have do not change with a run of bad results or even with relegation.

If you think the answer is to install a manager who promises to play a 352 and drag in some playmaker to Platini around the pitch then you must have been sleeping all last season, or faced in a direction away from the ball.

If you think the answer is just to change to anyone else then go lay down until your sense returns. If you think you “deserve better” then I don’t know what to say to you other than that you have an inflated sense of entitlement.

If you did pay attention last season (and in the other good seasons the club has had, and not just the ones which brought promotions) then you’ll notice that there is only hard work and effort. If you have a manager who prizes those things above all else then why change other than because you want to mete out punishment?

Another search for a manager begins

Mark Lawn and Julian Rhodes will be used to looking for a new manager and – after three appointments two of which lasted less than a year and a bit – they show no signs of having a grasp of the right criteria to make those appointments.

When Stuart McCall “resigned” from the club the question we asked was what the plan was for the recruitment of his replacement was. A lot of these questions have been answered with the move to new facilities at Woodhouse Grove and the appointment of Archie Christie as Chief Scout and Director of Football Development.

There is a plan at the club which Christie was brought in to implement to develop players for the first team – and to provide more players for the manager with a more extensive scouting network – which aims to take some of the onus of recruitment from the manager and have a retention of knowledge beyond the man in the dug out. Unlike the situation where Peter Taylor left and his backroom staff were sent away with him Jackson having left yesterday the players have familiar faces around them.

It is this type of system which saw an end to Kevin Keegan’s second spell at Newcastle United and – in a way – Alan Curbishley at West Ham but is increasingly common in football. Indeed on Jackson’s last day at Valley Parade Michael Flynn told Radio Leeds that Colin Cooper took the players through their paces while the manager spent the morning on the phone to football managers trying to find a striker on loan. The team and manager lunched and went over the plan for the Barnet game, then resigned.

(It should be noted, and as an aside, that Keegan’s contracted stated that he would have the final say over players brought into the club and when the club’s Director of Football Recruitment Dennis Wise signed Xisco – the issue which Keegan resigned over – Newcastle United were in breach of that contract and while Keegan resigned he later successfully sued the club for constructive dismissal. One wonders what the detail of Jackson’s contract was.)

The manager’s remit is the first team and the requirement is not for an holistic club builder but rather for a game winner, and someone who with coaching and deployment can edge a performance an inch or two better. There is a list of managers who were considered to replace Stuart McCall (now Motherwell): Peter Taylor (now Bahrain), Steve Cotterill (now Portsmouth), Russell Slade (now Leyton Orient), Peter Jackson, Lawrie Sanchez (now Barnet), Jim Magilton (now caretaker assistant manager Shamrock Rovers), Dean Windass (working for BSKYB), John Coleman (still Accrington), Iain Dowie (no club), Martin Allen (now Notts County) and Wayne Jacobs. Six months ago John Hughes (no club) declared an interest in joining City and John Still (still Dagenham) interviewed for the position.

How many of these fulfil the remit which Jackson was being asked to work within? Certainly John Still – the victorious Dagenham manager of last week – would do having worked with Christie before but one has to wonder how much of an appreciation of what skills the next manager needs to have, and how those skills are distinct from those which were required when looking for McCall or Taylor.

Having appointed a big personality in Jackson – and perhaps had personality clashes – Lawn and Rhodes may be tempted to opt to bring in a younger manager who is more malleable, less set in his ways of how to run a club, and able to work within the current structure. They would do well to avoid “Yes” men.

The aim of the club is to have an appointment before next week’s trip to Morecambe which suggests that there is someone in mind – probably someone who has talked to the club six or eighteen months ago – but that Lawn and Rhodes do not have the clarity to bring someone in immediately. Were John Still to be the choice then one imagines a call would be made, a resignation drafted, and the new man revealed on Monday. The fact that there is a week until appointment suggests that there are discussions to be had and a choice to be made. There is a suggestion that three interviews will be held this week. One has to wonder what Lawn and Rhodes think they will hear in those interviews which they had not heard in the last two rounds, and how they will be able to sift the answers to get the right man. We are to assume that Jackson and Taylor were both the most impressive people in interview.

The early runners

The link to John Still – who talked about how he would have joined City were it not for the uncertainty over the future of Valley Parade – is a strong one with the Dagenham manager being in the final two of the club’s thoughts when Jackson was appointed. The club would – not doubt – have to pay Dagenham to free Still from his contract.

Impressive in the last round of interviews was former Hibs and Falkirk manager John Hughes who is out of work at the moment and could come in without any compensation payable. Hughes is a strong candidate for the job but one might expect him to be appointed this morning rather than next week if he is the chosen one.

Former players Peter Beagrie and Dean Windass have their name’s mentioned often in connection with the job. Beagrie has shown no interest in moving into management thus far but Windass has made his desire to take over the club known – Terry Dolan as his assistant – and could fit in as the type of rookie manager who may appeal to the board who have had problems dealing with experienced number ones.

Former Barnsley manager and City man of the 1980s John Hendrie is also an option although one might wonder how many conversations Hendrie has had with Stuart McCall about the board at Bradford City and how that would colour his view of the job were it offered.

City have always been fond a bit of fashionability and so perhaps Jim Magilton – who is working as caretaker assistant at Shamrock Rovers who qualified for the Europa League with this superb strike last night may be an outside bet having talked to the club previously.

Other names work mentioning include Colin Cooper the current caretaker manager and former player and Farsley manager Lee Sinnott. Paul Ince has been mentioned – his promotion with MK Dons would impress the board almost as much as his collection of shiny medals but his track record is patchy.

Finally John Coleman has interested City in the past.

Ronnie Moore and the way the world works these days

Ronnie Moore will be the next manager of Bradford City – or so the jester that is Tommy Doherty said as he continues his banter with various City fans using the social networking website Twitter.

For those who do not follow @tdocs14 the former City midfielder stood charged by a section of City fans of – avoiding the colourful language – not being very good and being about to retire and midfielder responded in kind with the odd vulgarity, a decent pun here and there, and a boast or two about how he would be spending most of his days playing golf from now on. Wilde called it a good walk ruined, you know.

The highlight of this exchange came after Doherty declared he was back to be at home and away from Bradford two which there came a retort which Wilde would have considered half decent going on to say what a shame it would be that the midfielder had exited the City because today they were unveiling the statue to him. Touché.

Doherty’s joke about Moore – and it was just as Joke as elsewhere on Twitter former Bantam and Ronnie’s son Ian Thomas-Moore called it 100% untrue – would have been said and gone some years ago but the modern world creates a feedback loop around such rumours. A joke on Twitter is written down without humour – or even one of those :-) smiley faces – and bookmakers keen to make sure they do not lose out start to cut odds when loose money is placed on Moore’s arrival at VP.

Cutting odds is a result of betting but – rather than the commercial enterprise it is – bookmaking seems to be looked at as a kind of modern soothe saying. If ten people in an hour were to go into a William Hill in Glasgow and bet on Elvis being alive then the usual pattern would be picked up and the King’s return would come down from 10,000-1. It is the mechanics of the business. If there is a risk of paying of a lot then the odds come down. There is no measure of probability, just of risk should the eventuality came to pass.

So a joke from Twitter leads to Ronnie Moore becoming the favourite for the City job despite the fact that as a manager he has stated that he would prefer Bradford City not to be in the Football League (something he could achieve was a poor performance) and that leads to Bradford City fans who look at the odds reporting back that Moore is much fancied, and assuming that there must be a credibility to the idea. It is the feedback loop in action. Like shouting into a tunnel the sound echoes around and amplifies but is not repeated. It is still just one sound and no more true for the reverberations as when it was first uttered.

Football seems especially susceptible to this kind of repeating rumour which gains the currency of fact quickly and the next Bradford City manager will be faced with the same rumours and whispers that the previous two full time ones have had. Stuart McCall had a number of “final games” and Peter Taylor was reportedly in the last chance saloon nearly constantly. None of these rumours have ever been confirmed and none came to pass but the fact they reverberated around wrote them into history as truths. They undermined the manager, without every being validated for accuracy.

More important for the next manager – who will be charged with making a team for promotion once more – is to ensure that the echoing effect does not undermine his team. @RHannah10 is a blast on Twitter at the moment – so positive about his move to City and keeping us up to date with his last week working as a gardener which strikes one as rather charming, Carbone never having to work his notice – but a bad game and a negative tweet and how does the manager try keep Hannah’s confidence when the echoes are repeating negativity at him?

The way the world works these days – and the way football works – the difference between players is mostly in the head. Tell a guy he is useless and – in time – he will prove you right. Whomever takes over as City manager has to work out a way of ensuring his players are not exposed to this echoing effect which eats into their mental resilience and makes them worse players.

Because should he fail to do so he might find @RHannah10 having a laugh about who his replacement will be.

What are City asking the six?

There are six football managers being interviewed for the job of Bradford City manager which Mark Lawn hopes to have appointed around the start of May but as lists circulate as to who these names may be a more pressing question, perhaps, is what those six might say.

More to the point what the questions might be when asked. What are the Bradford City chairmen going to want to know from those who sit in front of them?

The questions that present themselves are hardly tempting. “How do you deal with having really poor training facilities, a situation that is not going to change?”, “You will not have the biggest budget in the division but it will be assumed you do, how do you cope with that?”, and of course that old chestnut “Your team wins one nil, the crowd boo, do you praise them after?”

The success of any interview process is dependent on a rigid definition of the requirements of the role and in this the Bantams come unstuck. For sure everyone knows what is wanted from as a result of the process: promotion; how to achieve that is a different matter.

Moreover how to assess if a candidate can achieve that represents something of a mystery. The question can be asked but who would answer in the negative?

Likewise the candidates cam be asked how they would approach the job’s finer points. “Will the players be required to wear suits? To enjoy coach journeying together?” None of these have proved essential indicators to job performance.

Much better would be to ask the candidates what augmentation the will have brought to City on a year on year basis. Ask the manager who wants the job in May 2011 what will have changed for the better at the club by May 2012 and if his only answer is “promotion” give him a wide berth.

The pursuit of promotion an end in itself has to end at City. The club’s long term aim seems to be set as sitting in the Championship and one promotion gained solely by gutsy performances on the field do not achieve this. That aim needs the club to start improving this like youth development and player realisation, which is to say getting the best out of the playing squad rather than allowing quality footballers like Tommy Doherty to become bit part players, making good on the investment in their services.

I’d like questions on those areas to be asked of the candidates. “How, considering the facilities, are you going to get the best out of the players?”, “How are you going to take the players we can afford and make them into players other people want to buy?”

Talk of promotion is pie in the sky. The next manager needs to arrive with some ideas of how to improve the club, not just what the results of improvement would be. The board need to make sure that the new man, the one of the six, knows that that is his remit.

Otherwise City are just Del and Roderney (sic) wishing to be millionaires next year, but just trusting to fate that they will achieve that.

The start of the most interesting season

This season will be fascinating. Every move will be analysed, every game mark a position, ever result considered as a proof of a concept about building slowly and in a determined fashioned. One can only guess at the outcome too – a team that takes change as part of progress, that sees development as a thing done over years, not over a summer.

It will be a very interesting League One season for Rochdale.

After the best part of four decades in the basement division Rochdale have gained an upward mobility which saw them promoted last season despite having sold – to a club who plead poverty for a figure they did not disclose – their best player in Adam Le Fondre but prospered because of the strength of the unit. Defender Craig Dawson is looking to move on this summer with the club waiting for someone to match the £1m valuation they put on him and – once again – Keith Hill will look to his side’s whole being able to withstand the withdrawal of one of the parts.

Rochdale are an object lesson in the idea of retention. Keith Hill has been at the club since his retirement being in charge of the youth side, then the assistant manager and finally as manager. The squad has long service – captain Gary Jones has played 229 games for the club – and with that has come a resilience.

One could take issue with other things about Spotland but on the field there is much to admire about Rochdale and their progress this term represents a test of their ideals.

Bradford City represent something of a contrast being a club that has firm and fast plans off the field which have seen the club be rightfully proud of being one of only two professional football clubs in the black as well as taking firm action against troublemakers. The commercial side of operations at Valley Parade come on a pace we are told and off the field – despite the legacy of huge debts ten years ago – the club are in rude health.

It just goes wrong when kicking a football come into the equation. It would not be true to say City do not have a plan on how to go forward – they have lots of plans – and they change on a regular basis.

Over the summer Peter Taylor has gone about augmenting what he inherited when he moved into Valley Parade while keeping some things in place. Wayne Jacobs, Michael Flynn, James Hanson, Steve Williams and Jon McLaughlin have all benefited from this as the manager recognises that all retention builds institutional knowledge. Nevertheless Hanson and Williams both arrived as part of the club’s plan of harvesting the lower leagues. That came after the club’s plan of spending £600,000 on talent. Remember City’s Mexican academy? City had a plan that included with Royal Racing FC Montegnee and the development of young players? A side note here is that the Bantams Belgian partners picked up Willy Topp on January three years after City took him from them RRFCM’s grasp.

While Rochdale have been pursuing a single approach, City have had many and perhaps they would have all failed in the long term but having not been given that time who could say?

Taylor’s one year contract evidences this – clearly the best man for the job – with the club hedging bets so that another plan can be sprung into place to replace the current one which at the moment is “the right thing.” If you buy enough lottery tickets then one day you will win, maybe.

Taylor has something of an injury crisis on his hands with James Hanson – who is expected to lead the line for the season – struggling to be fit for the first day with Gareth Evans and a new mystery striker who the manager hopes to sign today – replacing him in the forward one of a 433.

Evans would be deployed as a wider player alongside the likes of Scott Neilson, Jake Speight, Leon Osborne who is injured, Omar Daley who is suspended for the opening day of the season and perhaps Ryan Harrison and Norwich loanee Tom Adeyemi who are midfielders who may move forward.

For Speight the chance to play in front of his new fans and start to build bridges after a summer of sentences and suggestions will be welcome. If every a player needed a good start to his City career it is Speight.

City’s idea midfield three are Flynn, Lee Bullock and Tommy Doherty but the bearded maestro is injured suggesting that Adeyemi may be used in the middle although Luke O’Brien may slot onto the left hand side of a three as he did last year. With James O’Brien leaving this week City seem light in the midfield area with those three, the Norwich loan player and youngsters Luke Dean and Ryan Harrison and perhaps Taylor will be looking to replace the exiting Irishman.

At the back the Bantams have some strength and the names write themselves on a team sheet: Simon Ramsden, Steve Williams, new recruit Shaun Duff and Robbie Threlfall; Luke Oliver may yet end up pressed into attack once more – that is a pudding that is only for the eating – and Zesh Rehman would seem to be marked to provide cover for Ramsden and the central players.

If Taylor has one aim this year it should be to get Rehman – who has a pedigree of playing Premiership football – to perform appropriately consistency. Rehman put in a half dozen excellent performances towards the end of the last season under Taylor and if the manager is the manager everyone (seemingly including Fabio Capello) thinks he is then it will be in getting performances out of the likes of Rehman which will evidence that.

In goal Jon McLaughlin is expected to get the number one shirt with Lloyd Saxton to wait for his chance as McLaughlin did.

City face Rochdale and then entertain Bradford Park Avenue at Valley Parade on Tuesday before starting the season on Saturday at Shrewsbury. At least that is the plan.

Time for a new deal at City?

The next Bradford City manager will face criticism from day one and unless he achieves unprecidented levels of success he will be subject to calls from him to resign or be sacked.

Paul Jewell – who took Bradford City to the Premiership – was subject to massive criticism from some City fans in the 1999/2000 season and Geoffrey Richmond was certainly not the only person who would have said that if the manager was out of contract he would not get another one.

Stuart McCall offered his resignation after failing to reach the play-offs last season and has arguably done the same this. One must wonder if without McCall’s offers and the subsequent appeal for him to stay would he have been fired last year?

It is impossible to say conclusively, to do so would be to try read the minds of the chairmen of the club.

Moving away from Bradford City to the now infamous John Terry meeting with Fabio Capello a week of discussion and debate over what might happen was quickly ended by what did happen. Were we able to read the mind of Capello we would have known his views but as the man responsible was charged with setting the tariff of punishment uncertainly was the way of the week.

Excluding matters of misconduct would it be possible to end some of the uncertainty that Bradford City managers such as Stuart McCall face? There had been an agreement of sorts that McCall would be given until the end of this season made at the end of last but that agreement has not been honoured causing a lack of stability at the club which hampered the progress this season.

This lack of stability is not helped by the fact that supporters have such a wild variety of expectations for the club. Some look at the league and say that Bradford City have no right to beat anyone and that considering the £1m which is paid out to play at Valley Parade before a ball is kicked they are happy to maintain a competitive place in the division, others say that the club is massively under performing and believe the club should be in the Championship and that anything other than that or the progression to that is unacceptable.

More uncertainly where one side believes that a performance is acceptable while another that it is not. This situation was accurately felt when one group of supporters believed that Colin Todd was performing well, another that he was under performing. Any debate on the club fell into a depressing series of lies and abuse. I was accused of closing BfB down as a protest at the continued management of Colin Todd, nothing could have been further from the truth.

One might recall the effects of acting in that swirl of uncertainty and to have a mature debate as to what the next manager is expected to achieve at Bradford City and when he is expected to achieve it.

With debate done, enshrine those requirements within the contract of the next manager and end that uncertainty.

If the next manager is required to get a play-off place at the very minimum then write into his contract that should he not achieve this then his contract is nullified, if it is promotion that is required then include that. If there is a fear that we could end up breaking up something that is being built then write into the contract a number of wins which must be reached so as to not tie our managers to the performance of others?

If the number of home defeats is unacceptable then stipulate that the manager’s deal will be renewed at the end of the season should he have won a number of these games and not otherwise. If the development of young players is important then write in that he has to have given a number of players under a specific age débuts or once again his contract is not renewed.

At the start of the season give the manager not a vague idea of what might be nice to achieve but a set of black and white rules that govern his earning a new deal. The club – in turn – agree to a set of punitive clauses in the contract that ensure the manager is not dismissed outside of these renewal periods.

The problems with this system are potientally plentiful should the requirements be poorly set but the benefits for the incumbant of the job are equally significant chief amougst them being the end of the uncertainty that has dogged McCall this season and dogged Colin Todd, Paul Jewell and many other managers previously.

With a set of aims agreed and obvious to all the need for the kind of blowhards to mount thier campaigns to unseat managers is gone. BantamCook98 need not think up as many alaiases as he needs to seem legion in his criticism of the management he need only wait until the end of the season when the renewal assessment is made on the basis of targets achieved rather than the mood and whim of the boardroom which seems over interested in winning favour with the very people they should be ignoring.

If the bar is set at a point that BantamCook98 does not like then his beef is with the board, not the manager and as a result the manager is allowed to get on with his job concentraing on what he needs to achieve rather than which collection of agitators he needs to keep happy.

A system like this should not be need – I would not favour it over one of strong planning in the boardroom – but it is significantly better than the free for all of aggression and appeasement that has become supporting Bradford City in 2010 and is a much better situation to put the next manager into.

A bad time to change

Stuart McCall has to stay on for another season as manager, simple as that

It’s got nothing to do with whether you’re pro or anti McCall. Before some of you begin bellowing at your monitors, let me explain by outlining the alternative scenario and it’s timeline.

At 5-00pm on the 2nd of May Stuart seeks out Julian Rhodes amd Mark Lawn to confirm his resignation. the season’s just ended and we’re now managerless. Now I’ll make only one assumption that neither Wayne Jacobs nor David Wetherall is going to get the job. So we’re looking for a new man.

With any luck the chairmen already have someone in mind so an appointment is confirmed by mid May. If not, with newspaper adverts followed by sifting through replies and organising interviews, City would be lucky to have someone in place by the end of May.

Either way, we’re into the close season and the playing staff are on their (undeserved) holidays.

So the new manager is faced with a choice…bring in players “blind” or keep on most of the existing playing staff. Hardly an appealing choice.

Any experienced manager will tell you that the only time the boss begins to know what he has (or hasn’t) got at his disposal is when he sees actual competitive matches… at least
3 but preferably more. I agree. as a fan who’s watched countless pre-season friendlies over too many years, I know what they tell you which is nowt! We’ve had great friendlies followed by terrible seasons and vice versa.

Competitive matches only begin 2nd week in August. by the time three or four are played and the manager has some idea of the team’s needs we’re almost at the close of the signing window and looking
at the dreaded loan signings to make up the numbers till the turn of the year and the re-opening of the signing window. By then we’re all in “hoping” mode. hoping that what we want is available.

We could, if they’re not, be looking at another season of marking time and planning for 2010/2011.

Now football success is a young man’s pastime and I’m not getting any younger. I do not want another wasted season marking time.

McCall signs a new deal with City

Promotion or not Bradford City are keeping Stuart McCall as manager after the boss signed a deal that keeps him at Valley Parade until the Summer of 2011.

This backing of McCall is a signal of intent from the club that the belief is that the team is progressing under the totemistic manager and that his continued presence at the club will ensure that progress continues.

In a way this is Mark Lawn signalling a break from the hire and fire management policy of past City chairmen and the mentality of the rest of football.

As a sample of the effectiveness of changing manager as a strategy City’s lesson could not be clearer. Sacking does not improve a club.

Thus it is hoped that stability will. One of Stuart McCall’s greatest assets is that – a tiny percentage aside – City fans want to see him succeed and he has not become the soft target for supporter ire that his predecessor were.

All of which undersells the job the manager is doing and the marked improvement City have made under McCall. Losing at home – the bane of City since the Premier League days – has been banished on the whole and the team is capable of playing impressive, flowing football.

Ultimately Lawn has looked at these improvements and ignored the seduction of the ethereal suggestion that a change will bring anything better.

Honesty, passion, commitment, stability. These are the things that McCall represents to City – always has – and the things that Mark Lawn has backed fully in giving the manager this new deal regardless of the end of the season.

McCall staying despite the Hearts

Stuart McCall rubbished the idea that he would be joining Hearts and Mark Lawn quickly and unequivocally stated that the City boss was not going anywhere as for the first time in a long time the idea of the number one who was the number four leaving came up.

Of course McCall has left before – to Everton and to Sheffield United – and his return as manager was viewed as a totemistic mark to turn around an ailing club but few – when McCall was appointed – investigated the angle that City were recruiting a manager who may be prized by others.

A look at Stuart’s CV before City reads perfectly. An International who went to the World Cup. A player who won six League Championships and played in the wrong end of the English League. A leader on the field for a club who credit him with being one of if not the driving force behind promotion. Well respected coach of a team who have had a season in the Premiership.

Had he not been our Stuart McCall then he would still have been an outstanding candidate for the job and one we were lucky to have. The fact he was our cult hero masked the fact that his track record on the field points – as much as it every can – to a great manager off it.

Like Trevor Cherry or Roy MacFarland before him he came to City a rookie manager but a vastly experienced player and no doubt a few other clubs looked at McCall and noted him as one to watch. Roy Keane got the Sunderland job on the strength of his playing CV and once Paul Ince proved himself at League Two level – twice – Blackburn got interested.

McCall is in that field of players you can hang your spirit on and should City do as we all hope they will this year then expect those links to become more frequent.

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