The Wolves Feeling

There was always going to be some sort of angle on which to spin the first League Cup game for Stuart McCall – his first test against a big club – and so the first two names out of the hat gave us Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Bradford City and the memories flashed back to a day, a result, an image of the City number four with his arms aloft at the second of the final whistle.

McCall dragged City to that promotion. He was the heart of a team with capable legs and head. The next time he is in the dug out at Wolves he will be beating heart and pulsing brain.

His task at Bradford City will be brought into focus this week. His number two Wayne Jacobs will officially arrive from Halifax Town to be replaced at The Shay by Peter Atherton. Jacobs is a welcome appointment and does much to answer the once said – but now discredited – suggestion that McCall’s teams would be more about the morale of drinking buddies than modern footballing units. Communion wine aside Jacobs is not cut from that cloth.

By the time Jacobs arrives McCall will have a list of fixtures for the season – they come out on Thursday morning – with names like Barnet, like Accrington Stanley, like Morecambe which are a long way from the results of that Wolves win. Using the old Poker adage of looking around the table to see the sucker – if you can’t tell then it is you – one looks at League Two for the big name and then realise that we are, for better or for worse, the big name.

McCall will also have had his player budget ironed out with Julian Rhodes and Mark Lawn. Today’s exit of Marc Bridge-Wilkinson to Carlisle United, Dean Windass’s move to Hull and Steven Schumacher’s leaving for Crewe frees up the funds and the long list of recruits will get shorter.

At present McCall has ten players – pull his boots on himself and he has a team – but in three months time he needs to take out his team to the scene of City’s greatest triumph and begin to make his mark in management.

Joining the Bantams as a right back aged 17, spending months in the Everton reserves, going to the World Cup as a squad player, low key move to Rangers, free transfer return to City. McCall is a man who goes about his business in a quiet and determined way. Expect similar as City build to the first significant stop on the journey back.