McCall’s resolution should be to claim an ebullience

Perhaps you could have had some sympathy with Sammy McIlroy when the Morecambe manager moaned “I’ve been in football a long time and I cannot believe that scoreline. I thought we played some fantastic stuff sometimes.”

His team had not shown signs of being liable for the stuffing they got and the former Manchester United winger’s plan to keep the goals down had been good enough for many other clubs who have frustrated at Valley Parade. McIlroy’s continuation was telling “Stuart McCall was man enough to admit to me afterwards that it was the wrong scoreline, though obviously it’s easier to say when you’ve come out on top.”

Across from McCall’s dug out at Valley Parade in the Midland Road stand four or five supporters spend most of the game grumbling about the City manager and seem affronted when his team starts to score. Post-Christmas football attracts all sorts and in this case it is a collection of agitators playing on a lingering notion that the Bantam’s manager is mis-firing. That City could be doing more, one assumes, although no one will say in what way, or how.

This vagueness of criticism is best illuminated in the comments levelled at Wayne Jacobs – McCall’s assistant – for not being able to “sort out” City defence (The one that has not conceded on 270 minutes). The comment is defined enough to sound expert to the naive but fuzzy enough to not require any analysis to make.

It is ludicrous and cowardly. Cowardly because the speakers are not man enough to comment on McCall for fear of going against his popularity, ludicrous because to assume that Jacobs is in charge of the defending at Valley Parade is no more sensible than to assume that Sir Alex, a midfielder sharp elbowed centre-forward in his day, leaves Mike Phelan to deal with Rio Ferdinand and concentrates on what Michael Carrick is up to when he is going forward.

Nevertheless as McIlroy’s comment signify McCall seems ready to allow the vagaries of criticism to swirl around him. He tells McIlroy that his Morecambe team did not deserve to be spanked but which of the four City goals was not well earned? Which of the chances that City defended should have gone in? When McIlroy says his team did not deserve to be beaten 4-0 it would be out of character and slightly obnoxious for McCall to tell his opposite that a team that puts four past someone without reply does not need to look at percentage on the ball stats and has clearly stuffed them like the festive turkey but it might be more useful in cementing the City manager’s reputation.

After all what is McIlroy doing other than protecting his reputation at McCall’s expense? Did Mark Wright come to McCall’s defence after the 0-0 draw with Chester and say how City had deserved the win? McCall’s tendency to allow grace for his defeated rivals is part of the character that makes him popular with City fans as a magnanimous player but as a manager a section of that support are hearing that every City win was a lucky one – even a 4-0 tonking – while every Bantams draw or defeat is a huge failure.

The Bantams sit in the top three of a tight division. We score from more sources than we have since the days of Lee Mills/Robbie Blake/Peter Beagrie and we play good football and when things click together as they did against Morecambe McCall should take a curtain call of celebration. He needs to be ebullient and tell those people who suggest that his team – or Wayne Jacobs’s part of it – is a shambles at the back that City are keeping clean sheets.

Because in a lack of ebullience from McCall the void is filled by managers like McIlroy casting the impression that City are drifting in luck and vague whispers.

McCall’s new year resolution should be to shout more and give less time for opportunists to steal his microphone.

Where now for Paul Jewell?

It all fit so well.

Paul Jewell would return to glory at Brian Clough’s first Championship club and the comparisons between the two strikers who retired early and inspired smaller teams to great things would be further cemented. Jewell’s exit came amid chants for his job from the Pride Park South Stand, admissions of contrition from the chairman Adam Pearson and Burton Albion – home of the actual successor to Clough – rising towards the Football League. Both East Midlands clubs are looking at the same manager.

Jewell has left Chris Hutchings in charge – again – and has suffered a significant dent in his reputation having taking on the Pride Park job with a remit not to keep the Rams in the Premiership but to launch a return the season after. The fact that he made such a poor fist of even attempting to stay in the top flight was put down to the players, the failure for a replaced squad to start a promotion campaign falls on Jewell – at least in the eyes of most.

Damning for Jewell were Pearson’s words on his exit – that he was a manager with a proven track record of getting teams out of the Championship – which risk ghettoising the former City and Wigan boss into the Neil Warnock position where he is trusted to get you to the big leagues but no further.

It is unlikely his next role will be at a club higher than the role he has just left leaving him looking at his record – something of a 2:4 with City and the Latics as successes and Sheffield Wednesday and Derby as failures – and hoping that if he is to be considered a promotion expert his next role does not tip the odds against him.

The former City boss is stuck between the limits of being a promotion specialist and the hardship of maintaining a positive role in modern football – even after keeping Wigan in the Premiership the grumbles had started at the Latics who wanted the club “moving to the next level”

Jewell’s next level seems frustratingly out of reach.