Do we need a manager or do we need leadership?

Is the solution to Bradford City’s problems in a new manager?

Someone has to pick the team, train the players and so on but first and foremost perhaps we need some leadership at the club.

At the moment, I am embarrassed. The last six weeks are no way to recruit a new manager and the process will leave no one either satisfied, or with the reputations they came into it with intact.

Mark Lawn and the Bradford City board look weak and indecisive. Why take so long to pick someone for a role which seems to have such a limited shelf life? Why spend half a season appointing a manager when the last one (who was also appointed after such a process) was done away with after six months? The public perception is one of a board good at procrastination.

Peter Jackson can’t really make his mark on the job or the club until he has the job officially, so is only going to end up doing poorly and setting the message boards alight with impolite requests for his dismissal – if it can even be called that – from a role he can hardly get started in. Jackson cannot provide the leadership when he might be back on the streets at the end of the week.

This weakness in leadership is in evidence throughout the club. We, the supporters, are fed snippets by the club but none of these bits of information which suggest improvement is ever followed up. What does Omar Khan an associate director of City do? I’d like to know if he organises events so that I can go to them. What does Roger Owen do at the club? They were both lauded when they joined up, but we’ve heard little from them since and seen no evidence of any success that has derived from their presence.

Why do I receive email updates from Leeds United and Huddersfield Town, but not from City? Email is a simple, cheap form of communication. Every man and his dog has a blog these days, but not Bradford City.

The club is poorly managed and will only continue to deteriorate unless drastic changes are made. We have a hopelessly outdated website, no regular communication (I don’t even receive my season ticket in the post, I have to go and collect it!) and no spokesperson. The players talk and are hauled up before the manager, the manager issues comments and the board comment on the manager, and then board say nothing. In BfB interview with Mark Lawn the chairman admitted that he had withdrawn from talking to supporters.

News, both good and bad is spread via rumour on the message boards, meaning that much of what we are told is completely fictitious, even malicious at times. False rumours gain currency, the the true rumours are then picked up a day or so later by the T&A and appear often to ‘clarify’ misconceptions.

All of this happens and the idea persists that the new manager will solve the problems, and that he will be able to solve the problems, when increasingly it seems his job is marginalised to the point of being a lesser appointment. The manager becomes a a Lieutenant without a Major.

Sort that out first, then worry about appointing a new manager.

Mark Lawn and the French Revolutionary

There is a story of a French Revolutionary watching an angry mob run past the saloon he is in and saying “There go my people, I must find out where they are going so I can lead them there.”

Long awaited news has started emerging from Bradford City over the past few days. Strange news and news that is long overdue but no less welcome.

We are told that new training facilities are being planned for the first time in years – the last plan was a custom built facility just off the roundabout at the top of the M606 which bit the dust when the money ran out creating a great illustration of how the club frittered away the golden years of English football. We are not alone, almost every other club has too.

Now we hear that Mark Lawn is looking at bringing in turf experts to find how the Valley Parade pitch can be improved.

These efforts are long overdue – the pitch itself is not as bad in most years as it looks at the moment following the harsh winter and more fool the clubs that react to a harsh winter by adapting the pitch for such circumstances in a world where the words “global warming” feature so often.

These changes are aimed at wooing Peter Taylor to the manager’s seat at Valley Parade. They are what the interim manager considers to be the minimum requirement for a football club that wants to progress and if he is going to commit himself to Bradford City then Taylor wants Bradford City to commit to doing the basics right at least.

Lawn is keen to be heard to be making the right noises although sometimes his approval of the manager’s methods and techniques ring hollow. Hopefully he has realised that in Taylor he has by far the best candidate for the job and that he is trying to do all he can to keep him is a good thing.

One has to wonder though as Lawn tells all about how we need to move to better facilities where this thinking was two years ago when the club had over a half a million pounds to spend? Indeed where was it two and a half years ago when the chairman was chasing the signature of Chilean players?

Even if we assume that Stuart McCall rose on his haunches and demanded with fury that he be given transfer funds why did Lawn – if the benefits of the changes he current outlines are so obvious – tell the manager that the club’s funds would be going on infrastructure improvements and not paying Paul McLaren or signing Willy Topp?

If he went along with the idea of spending money on players then why – when Peter Taylor told him that he wanted training pitches and weight rooms – did he not point him to a map of South America and ask him where to find a great striker who could train at Applely Bridge? Why not tell Taylor that all he needs is to find the players and that the training facilities are up to snuff?

When Mark Lawn started looking for a replacement for Stuart McCall I worried that rather than outline a plan and a vision to a candidate and asking how that candidate would fit into it he would be sat on the other side of a desk asking the man who could be his next manager what the plan is to make the club better. As much as I welcome – at last – the club looking at improving the basic infrastructure needed to get on in the game one cannot help be struck by the idea that whatever the current plan for making a better Bradford City is it has not come from the boardroom.

It is said that the difference between American Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton is that Bush – rightly or wrongly – had certainty in what he did and that Clinton would change his mind on the basis of the last expert he met. That is how Lawn comes over at the moment. He blows in the wind and – with news the the club is to get further investments and without knowledge of if these investments will be capital funds or loans – ready to put gamble on the last expert he talked to being the right one.

Why worry though is one agrees with what is happening at City? Taylor is a near peerless manager at this level and very much the best we have available to us and the improvements to the club’s infrastructure are long overdue. Does it matter that Mark Lawn has been led to these realisations by Peter Taylor rather than outlined them to him?

One might worry that because the plan to improve the club starts with the manager then that plan would leave with him should he exit, also that manager’s have more of a vested interest in promotion rather than the continuity of the club and if Taylor were to not look beyond two years in his planning then few would blame him. To expect a Bradford City manager to enter a third year of management has been unrealistic.

That aside the original of City’s plans does not at all, on one proviso.

That Lawn recognises that it is the manager’s job to run the football club and his to provide resources and get out of the way and let him do it in the long term.

If he can do that without talking to another expert that changes him mind then we might start to improve.