Should we be worried that Stuart is just one of us?

Perhaps fortunately, I wasn’t able to get to Chester on Saturday. I gather that I didn’t miss a great deal. However, I did catch Stuart’s post match interviews and despite the relative positivity of halting the losing run, I noticed a disturbing tone in his voice.

Stuart sounded like one of us, and I find that worrying. As supporters, save for giving the team our full backing, we are impotent. Despite hours of tactical deliberation and conversation amongst ourselves, we do not pick the team and we cannot make decisions that directly impact the players. I understand that’s part of being a supporter and part of what makes football great. When we turn up on a Saturday or a Tuesday we are powerless to influence what unfolds before us, and as frustrating as that often is, it’s part of the thrill we seek.

Listening to Stuart on Saturday, he sounded just like one of us… as though he had been powerless to influence what he had just witnessed. I felt more dejected on Saturday than I have at any other this season, because Stuart sounded like a man who’d thrown in the towel. The usual rhetoric (“18 points to play for”) was there, but he didn’t give the impression that he believes we’ll make the play-offs any more than I believe we will.

As a supporter who is powerless to influence proceedings, I want to hear positivity from our leader. As the manager, Stuart is the person who, more than any other, has the ability to influence what happens to Bradford City. I want to hear a determination, a rallying cry, a sense of fight. Stuart verbally portrayed none of those. All I heard was dejection, disappointment and distress…exactly what I felt.

Perhaps therein lies the problem. I am coming to the conclusion that the reason I, and so many other supporters wanted Stuart as manager, is the root of the problem. Stuart is one of us. He mourns like us in tragedy, celebrates like us in triumph, and hurts deeply like us when we lose. I find that an incredibly attractive quality in our leader. However, like many of us, he appears not to truly believe that we can go up, and like all of us, appears unable to influence on-pitch matters sufficiently.

So, where do we go from here? Well, I don’t necessarily believe that the grass is greener on the other side. I would deeply love Stuart to succeed, but he needs to instil some fight back into his team and his supporters. Stuart needs to realise what a huge influence he is on us all, players and supporters alike. At the moment, I have no belief that we will go up, and if Stuart’s public rhetoric and body language are replicated in the dressing room, then neither will his players.