Save Stuart

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

By Jason McKeown

Stuart McCall’s fourth spell at Bradford City looks like it is nearing its end and it’s utterly, utterly heartbreaking.

A fifth defeat on the trot, this one, against Wimbledon, pure humiliation, have ripped up a season of promise and bred a toxic atmosphere not experienced since the bad old days of struggling at the foot of League Two. Incredibly, City remain in the play off spots and undoubtedly still have everything to play for. But the January collapse has exposed cracks in the strategy and – to an outsider – the club appears to be falling apart.

Where do you go from here? A must-win game, where nothing short of 100% effort was supposed to be guaranteed. Yet the players carried on their worrying second half disintergration at Rotherham, going to pieces at the slightest sign of adversity. Wimbledon, struggling near the bottom and far from world beaters, couldn’t believe their luck.

A promising start was halted by conceding in dismal fashion, as City wrongly assumed the ball was out and stopped. The Wimbledon goal was against the run of play, but the response was chaotically pathetic. Players treated the ball like a grenade and did everything they could to hide from it. A mini rally after half time – where Dominic Poleon had an equaliser controversially ruled out – faded all too quickly again.

Wimbledon rattled in three more of the easiest goals they will ever score. The second a result of Callum Guy’s lack of positional awareness, playing in an unfamiliar right back role. The third after some shocking play from Nathaniel Knight-Percival; only for Rouven Sattelmaier to outdo him in the hopeless stakes, by allowing a tame shot to squirm, painfully slowly, over the line. The fourth goal came when City’s offside trap failed. Defensively, City were a disgrace.

Just what is going on? It’s no secret morale in the camp has taken an almighty hit. The catalyst said to be the club’s decision, hours before the FA Cup tie with Yeovil Town, to not complete the signing of promising loanee Luke Hendrie. Whatever happened in the hotel where Hendrie was preparing with the team that day, it hit his team mates hard. A squad that would rarely lack effort was suddenly stripped of character. The losses have stacked up.

But for any injustice the players might feel, about the issues around recruiting new players, the reaction has to be far, far better than this. Where are the leaders? Who is putting their body on the line? Why aren’t they rallying each other? Romain Vincelot, Knight-Percival, Jake Reeves, Matt Kilgallon and Nicky Law have not looked after their own performances, or held others accountable. Paul Taylor and Charlie Wyke have dipped. Sattelmaier has been dreadful.

The problem with City’s approach of having a small amount of senior pros, backed up by youngsters, has been the lack of options to change things. Certain players don’t deserve to be in the team, and haven’t for some time. But who’s pushing them to take their places? And where on earth, for that matter, is Tony McMahon?

Perhaps it isn’t a surprise that, in the first season since the final History Makers departed, the old never-say-die attitude has disappeared. But here’s a message to the current players: you don’t have that history with us, and same bond with the crowd, that allows your mistakes to be readily forgiven. If you think your performance today was acceptable, find another club quickly. Because this isn’t what Bradford City has been rebuilt on.

We celebrate our recent heroes of the past, endlessly replaying the great games and talking about their heroics. No one expects this lot to beat Premier League teams, but you want to see the same basic standards that saw recent City teams soar so high. The current players should relish, rather than fear, playing in front of 20,000 people. Phil Parkinson always prioritised character in his recruitment. Perhaps that valuable lesson has been lost.

Finally, the cavalry has started to arrive in the shape of four new signings. All but Kai Bruenker were probably meeting their new team mates for the first time today. They will surely start next week, and McCall has spoken about more recruits to come.

No one doubts how hard the club has worked to get in new faces, but there is no obvious reason why this week’s new arrivals couldn’t have been recruited sooner. The points lost by City this month, and the sledgehammer effect on momentum, could feel even more costly in May. If City fall short of the play offs by a few points, the inquest will quickly revisit this period.

The midweek statement from the club, where Edin Rahic acknowledged his failure to support McCall with new signings, was welcome. Although it has done little to quash the growing feeling he is on the brink of sacking his manager. He backed McCall, but it wasn’t exactly 100% faith that was expressed. He might feel entitled to feel disappointed by McCall in private, but it helps no one to be anything short of fully supportive in public.

This time four years ago, City were going through an even worse run of form – the infamous one win in 21 under Phil Parkinson. The then-joint chairman, Julian Rhodes, sensed his manager had lost the dressing room. But responded by issuing a public rallying cry via the media in support of Parkinson, which helped to turn the season around. Go back even further and Geoffrey Richmond would forcefully support the likes of Chris Kamara and Paul Jewell in tough times, even though he was angrily questioning them in private.

Speculation undermines a manager. It is within Edin’s control to kill it.

Of course, he might very well want to change his manager – and the expiration of McCall’s contract in the summer offers him the opportunity to do it. But he cannot do it now. Not with the very public mess of this transfer window that he is as accountable as anyone for. I know plenty of City fans who don’t rate McCall as manager and didn’t want him to come back. But even they can see the current situation of having such few options, especially as full back, makes the situation very unfair on the manager.

A sacking of McCall will be quickly followed by an Edin backlash. No one wants to see that. It doesn’t help anyone.

And for all the problems, City’s league position makes it incredibly harsh to make a change. Only three games of McCall’s 19 months in charge have seen City outside the play offs. And that’s with all the change and upheaval to the squad. How would sacking Stuart look to the rest of football? What would it do to City’s prospects of attracting a high calibre replacement?

Especially when you throw in the McCall emotional factor. The club legend. The most popular and iconic player in Bradford City’s history. Worshipped and adored. These factors don’t make him unsackable, but my goodness they play a massive role in how you treat him.

McCall played 395 times for City over two unforgettable spells. He came through the youth ranks. He inspired them to promotions. He gave absolutely everything on the field. He commanded incredible respect and awe from supporters lucky enough to witness these times. One day, there will be a statue of him outside the ground.

McCall’s own father was injured in the Valley Parade fire. He and his teammates visited survivors in hospital. Attended the funerals of those who tragically lost their lives. And each and every year, he makes it to Centenary Square for the annual memorial service.

His connection with Bradford City is huge. The way he conducts himself is exemplary. The bonds he holds with supporters run deep. And anyone who fails to recognise this could face some pretty heavy consequences.

McCall is not beyond question. Criticism for recent results is understandable. But any debate over his future is not for now. Let’s have a sensible and measured discussion in the summer. And if he is not to get a new deal – or if, indeed, he doesn’t want to stay – let’s make sure he leaves with the dignity he deserves. His final public appearance at Valley Parade does not deserve to be a hurried rush up the steps of the Main Stand, after getting sent off by the referee.

And in the meantime let’s get behind him. Speaking before the game to local radio, Rahic explained that he wants the club to be united. “To divide people from the outside is totally rubbish because we have to bring people together.” I completely agree. And that begins with the chairman. This is the moment for our leader to be a true leader.

Let’s get some even better January business completed by Wednesday, let’s give McCall the squad he needs. The players need to show some fight. Stop hiding behind each other, and start playing for their manager.

There is a long long way to go, and anyone who wants to give up should get off the bus. We can do this. We can turn this season around. Back each other. And back Stuart.

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Categories: Opinion

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37 replies

  1. Very well said. Stuart needs and deserves our support over all the players and management. He must be hurting like the rest of us but he is not giving up so we must not either. Don’t give up on Stuart. Back Stuart.

  2. We are missing arguably best player, most assists etc…

  3. The squad has some serious gaps and is not nearly as strong as last season in my opinion. To still be in the top 6 despite this, the recent run or losses and the negativity is almost a miracle!

    Chairman needs to help Stuart out and the fans need to unite behind a legend.

  4. Thank you very much for writing this report, for writing it so quickly, and for writing in such a lucid manner when you must be seething.
    I am a totally committed City supporter , have been all my life. City mean a lot to me, to my wife, to my son, to my late father. I hate to see what I saw today, and I hate having to write this rant.But I am seething, am angry and dismayed. I saw a City team today which had no game plan, no strategy,which was soft, which was slow, did not contest loose balls, which did not give 100% and which was outplayed by a very poor team, but a team that tried harder.
    Certain players, and we all saw them, coasted. It is ok to blame the owners for what happened at Yeovil to Hendrie, but it is the job of the manager to sort his players out, drop those who don’t care, and organise his team in a professional way.
    If Sattelmeier is a better goalkeeper than Raeder then Raeder should not be a professional footballer. Doyle would have come out and saved the second goal. Sattelmeier should have done.
    Law and Reeves should seriously ask themselves tonight why they are being paid.
    I would not be surprised if Wyke asked to be released, because he must have felt today that he was wasting his time.
    If McMahon is malingering, then he should be suspended.
    At the end of the day we all idolise Stuart McCall, but his performance as motivator, team selector and tactician has been sadly lacking in the past 31 days. He needs to select his team on merit, use the Ferguson method with under-performers and give fans like me something not to be ashamed of.
    It is many, many years since I have been so angry after a match.
    I am sorry about this rant, I do not want Stuart McCall to leave,I want him to succeed, but I also do not want my Saturday afternoon and week-end at be ruined by watching this disgrace.

    • Couldn’t have put it better

    • ‘Dropping players’ that aren’t performing is a good idea, the problem lies in the inescapable fact that there’s nobody to replace them with if they were left out. And who would be left out? There’s probably nobody in that starting 11 apart from Guy that doesn’t need a ‘rest’

      Up until yesterday I’ve been sanguine about the ‘new’ owners and their philosophy, but after that performance I’m in no doubt that there’s something seriously wrong behind the scenes. Nobody I’ve spoken to from August onwards believed the squad was anywhere near deep enough to tackle a whole season. Yet, those in charge have been reticent to recruit.

      If I was Stuart, I’d honestly consider resigning and then come clean about just what’s happening behind the scenes. I think his fate is sealed come May whatever the outcome, in some ways I’d be happy to write this season off in order to start anew next season, but without understanding just what the problems actually are, we could be doomed to repeat this season’s failings.

      This is as worried I’ve been since the dark days of League Two. All the hard work and progress in creating a resolute and cohesive bond between club and fans has now evaporated.

    • spot on John,

  5. Can I say that is a brilliant summary of what is going on behind the scenes at city,rumours are that in the hotel in Yovil a senior player or player’s where not happy with how Hendry had been treated and had words with senior management, and the since then the player’s seem not to be at or near an acceptable level which is unacceptable for professional footballers and the club needs root out the bad eggs and get them out of the club asap.

  6. Absolutely gutted the players and they know who they are should not put on a City shirt again until they show it some respect whatever is behind the present total lackof motivation.They need to man up and get on with what they are paid to do .Hope Stuart can turn things around it will take everybody to be on board working together for the good of the club

  7. The shape of the team was all wrong and the players did not know or do their jobs. Vincelot legs have gone and continues to give the ball away and underform. He is better at centre half where he can have time on the ball, play out from the back and read the game instead of running around like a headless chicken. The support from Law and Reeves was equally inept.

    Sepplemier is just not up to league standard and the loss of Doyle, Hendrie and McMahon has undermined the spirit of the team as has the McMahon and Hendrie saga.

    The players and manager have to take responsibility for tatics and players performances however the lack of effort, cohesion and simple errors says the club is not together and the cracks are begining to appear.

    Its been very apparent there is discord behind the scenes and after 3 great away wins at Shrewsbury, Wigan and Southend its all gone pear shaped, Fleetwood apart. I travelled down to Wimbledon, Rotherham and attended today and I cant remember 3 poorer performances where players are simply not playing for the shirt. Defeats at Home to Peterbourgh, Plymouth and Northampton were not far behind.

    I feel the problem primarly lies with the owners and lack of ambition in the transfer market for me and they have hung McCall out to dry and no amount of press releases can mask that. The owners have massively underestimated the English season of around 55 games and the type of players and squad size that is required.

    No replacement for McCardle, the moving on of players on better money and simply poor recruitment and an over reliance on development players to plug the gaps.

    Although players have come in this week the McMahon saga rumbles on andthe owners just are not prepared to pay the wages hence the better players are been moved on or going to clubs who are prepared to pay for a better standard of player. Rahic claimed he made an offer for Keifer Moore but this just doesnt add up as his wages alone will have been 8 to 10k per just to compete with rivals. We then end up in the bargain basement making an offer for a Chesterfield striker whilst signing a lower level German Striker.

    I fear for Stuart’s future as the city manager and if he’s not gone in the next 2 games he wont be here come the end of the season. Stuart has over achieved with a reduced budget and squad and unfortunatley it has the feel of his last time in charge. Although the players have to take responsibility for underperforming I feel the tactics/formation have not been strong enough and the owners have simply underestimated what it takes to get a team promotion from league 1.

  8. I feel for mcall, he has been let down by a board who want to do things on the cheap and are now learning the hard way, you get what you pay for ?, some of the current players are non league standard at best , sad times

    • Spot on and if Rahic was really serious about backing Stuart then I would block any move for Macca to Scunthorpe if it means he won’t play fine leave him to rot and don’t pay his. Wages sure it may cost a few quid in transfers money but we do need him in our side.

  9. I agree. It seems inexplicable that a squad that ground out good results for the first half of the season can’t seem to muster a decent form now. But i can’t believe it makes sense to change manager. I support Stuart, the new signings, put faith in him re-building and the whole squad re- grouping. They need to pull together, and so do we. Alex Ferguson taught his teams to play to the final whistle, I’ve never left before it blows, and we all need to dig deep together, and support our club.

  10. Great article. I absolutely agree. We have lost 5 games..we are not fighting for relegation we are fighting for promotion.im still going to travel from Glasgow to Charlton on a midweek day to support the lads..this is the time we need to dig deep. It’s easy to support a club on the rise. Character is built when the chips are down. This is when the true support of the team comes out..proper supporters will shout loude..proper supporters will encourage..proper supporters will be going to games despite losing 5 in a row..

  11. To be fair, the stats websites all had us massively over performing at the start of the season- we were scoring goals when our chance ratio was low and escaping conceding when our attempts against were high.
    These things even themselves out but I didn’t expect it to be so brutal.
    McCall kept this team moving forward like road runner going over the edge of a cliff… but gravity (in our case watching 3 players go to the Championship and 3 top L1 pros leave- and replacing them with dreadful players on 30% less wages, with limited heart and work rate, has now caught us.
    And we could be dropping for some time before we hit the bottom of the canyon.
    And a message to the man who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know; shut up, sit down, you have been shown up. Set a budget, give it to McCall and organise the business- this we understand you have some experience in.
    As you say it’s time for the players, such as we can afford, to stand up, man up and play up.
    Reaves, Law and Vincelot added together wouldn’t best McCall in a midfield scrap.
    ISIT

  12. Boy oh boy…

    A few points:

    1) We need to plan for next season in League One now. Its a pipe dream that we are going to remain in the play offs. We have serious cracks which will take time to address. All the new players need 6-10 game to bed in at least
    2) We lack leaders in the midfield. Some one with desire to drag his fellow players up from the floor. None of our midfield I would want with me in trenches
    3) We need Doyle back in the goal ASAP. Sadly the 2 keepers from Germany are not fit for purpose
    4) Edin needs to realise what works in Germany doesn’t mean it is going to work in the England. PP walked as he know what he was going to face with the management directive
    5) The next 4 days of the transfer window are critical. We need a couple more senior heads to help turn around this ship…
    6) Any player who doesn’t want to be at City, then get rid of them as soon as possible. We only want players who want to play for the shirt

  13. Perfect summary Jason.

    Clearly, something has happened since the turn of the year to upset the team. Other comments on this article sum up our problems at the moment.

    Doyle is our best goalkeeper, McMahon is being missed, Vincelot needs to play at the back with NKP, Chicksen needs a good run in the team, we need to play with two wingers (Patrick and Robinson), Dieng needs a dynamic central midfield partner, Taylor and Wyke need to understand each other better, the owners need to sort out McCall’s contract situation and the supporters need to stick with the team.

    It won’t be easy, however hard work and togetherness will help. IMIT.

  14. What a fantastic piece of truth and we’ll put together article top marks

  15. An absolutely perfect summary together with some comments.Dressing rooms can change over the daftest of catalyst.It needs nipping quickly with the focus on the fact that miraculously the play off position is still there.Stewie will be there.A very big week ahead.His strength he admits is currently floundering (no doubt with the upsets).Where he works on and gets the best out of players.As he did with Marshall Law and others.He does not need his concentration breaking by interference.Transfer committees indeed.German novices imported are clearly not up to it and will likely never be.Mc Mahon has some history of upsetting camps one reads.Blackpool maybe.His passionate cup runneth over.The hiding needs to stop.The togetherness return.PP was good for that.Got shut of dissidents.Bought into character.The big character is there.ISWT.

  16. I find it strange that professional footballers can put in five abject performances in a row over a desicion not to sign a young reserve full back. Unfortunately this has reflections of the 08/09 season under Stuart McCall when after after a 5-0 win over Aldershot which took us to 3rd place there was a behind the scenes disciplinary problem which led to a similar slump to this. It culminated in a 3 0 defeat at Dagenham which was going to lead to Stuart leaving until the fans saved him. However it just delayed the inevitable and he went half way through the next season after another slump. He cares so much about us but when the losing spiral starts he finds it difficult to reverse a slump. Last time it was Mark Lawn blamed for Stuart’s demise now it’s Edin Rahic but at some time Stuart has to take responsibility for some woeful runs of form.

  17. Excellent article – some of those players need to look in the mirror this morning. The point about no leaders on the field is spot on. No one getting anywhere near the likes of Gary Jones – never mind Stuart himself. None of us fans know what is said behind the scenes – but hopefully the players not pulling their weight are being told as much in no uncertain terms. Keep strong Stuart. And give them the kick up the backside they obviously need.

  18. After that performance, I think it is pretty clear that something has gone on in the dressing room, that we are unaware of, which is having an affect on team spirit and morale.

    I am afraid it adds weight to the rumour, about Hendrie receiving some less than complimentary remarks by the chairman, which as also overheard by some of the players, including McMahon, who submitted a transfer request, and is possibly the reason why he hasn’t started since.

    I was simply shocked, stunned, appalled and embarrassed by that performance yesterday. Whether it means certain individuals swallowing their pride and apologising, or we need to get certain players out of the club, then it needs to be done immediately, for the sake of the club and our season.

  19. It’s hard to know where to start with the Wimbledon performance, but it feels like a watershed result in our season.

    If we start with Stuart. While there are circumstances (recruitment, the pitch, injuries), the line-up yesterday was clearly disjointed. Too narrow, Wyke too isolated (despite playing with two other forwards). When the full backs got the ball there were very few options wide. We were too slow to break, and we attempted to play intricate passing football on a terrible pitch against a team that just bullied us out of space.

    Should Stuart have played Warnock and Lund from the start? Perhaps, but if they haven’t really trained with the team then it makes sense to ease them in. Should whoever is responsible for recruitment have got Stuart a target man, a left back, and a right back at the start of the transfer window? Yes. To go nearly all of January (ok McMahon at Fleetwood, Chickson v Wimbledon) either a recognised senior right or left back is clearly negligent.

    But I have sympathy with him because of the recruitment. Bizarre signings, poor signings and no apparent strategy in recruitment. I count City having 6 central midfielders (plus Pybus, Devine, Gunner and others could play there). I count 6 strikers (plus Patrick, Grodowski, Webb-Foster) and we’re apparently in the market for another (Dennis). But we’ve only just got a second left back (Warnock). Only just got a second right back (assuming McMahon stays). We have only 3 wide players – a loan (Gilliead), a new find (Robinson) and young prospect (Gibson). Why are we so unbalanced in our options?

    Nothing against Bruckner (he many turn out to be very good) but why is he signing on the 26th of January? If he was an actual target (as opposed to a name a long way down on a very long list) then he would have been in earlier, but he appears to just be the best we can afford, that is also available, as we start to panic. Warnock and Lund, given the speed of their arrival and the fact they are loans, look like signings made in haste. Warnock is a very good player, but McCall seems to prefer full backs who push on. Warnock isn’t going to be able to tear up and down the flanks like Meredith or Chickson, so how does this impact the kind of tactics Stuart will be able to deploy?

    I remember McCall turning round and shrugging to the Director’s Box when Vuckic blasted one over the bar last season. “This is what you are giving me to work with.” What is it they say about horses and camels and committees? That proverb would apply well to our recruitment ‘committee’.

    I won’t get angry at Sattelmaier. When we were really terrible, we all used to say “As long as player tries, I won’t get on his back. All you can ask for is effort.” Rouven just isn’t very good. But that’s why there was anger yesterday. Too many of the outfield players did not put the basic effort in, did not look like they were playing for Stuart. They certainly weren’t playing for Bradford City.

    Where I have less sympathy is the defence. 4 v Wimbledon. 3 v Bristol Rovers. 2 v Northampton. 3 v Rochdale. 3 v Peterborough. In his post-match interview with the Pulse, Stuart said that we needed to go back to basics and look at defensive solidarity. Yes we did, in November. I know the full backs and goalkeeper situation haven’t helped, but Kilgallon and NKP are more experienced and better than that. Yesterday was the worst performance I have either seen from either of them. I can get angry with them, and Reeves-Vincelot-Law, because we know they are better than that.

    I’m hearing people say that the fans should be doing more to support the team, but the team need to give something to the fans. Yesterday started with a clean slate and the fans got behind the team, but when it’s clear the same mistakes are being repeated then the atmosphere will become withdrawn. Callum Guy was the only person in the first half really committing, and when he made challenges the crowd responded. How many times did Vincelot, Law, Reeves commit to a challenge, really get stuck in and raise the level? Even Taylor lacked in this department. Vincelot, as captain, has somehow escaped the level of criticism levelled at others.

    I can’t betray confidences, but I know McMahon isn’t injured. I also know a lot of people at the club – perhaps even players – are unhappy with the way Rahic treats people on a personal level.

    If the rumours of McMahon leaving are true, and he goes before the end of the window, then there is something sadly fitting about the last of Parkinson’s signings – with all the qualities he brought to the club – leaving at this time.

    • If that is true about McMahon then he is being totally unprofessional and I hope he isn’t being paid.

      • If it is true then Doyle was lying during his co-commentator duties yesterday when he said McMahon WAS injured but came into the club every day for his rehab.

    • Probably the best comment I’ve read on this site, and right on the money. Ive heard the same things about the relationship breakdown between the players and the board. Very worrying.

      And regarding the fans being responsible in some way for not backing the players – I was at Rotherham and there yesterday. Both games started with all players being given full backing by the fans around me, but the ineptitude and clear lack of 100% effort witnessed meant that encouragement soon became berating. I didn’t cheer when Reeves was subbed both games but I was glad because he was terrible, and showed himself up with his petulance. Likewise Vincelot on Tuesday and Law yesterday.

      Whatever happened in Yeovil has brought us to this point – the two previous games were champagne football at home to Oxford and a come-from-behind win away at Fleetwood. I can’t see how it can just be due to being short handed in a few positions, this is different, and like nothing I’ve experienced in nearly 40 years following City.

  20. Excellent article as always Jason. I wasn’t at the game yesterday but from all reports and what I have seen on tv we desperately need some leadership throughout the clup

  21. Excellent article by Jason and the basis of a unemotional response to drive a turnaround. I would hope that the article and feedback are taken into account at VP. This is a real test of leadership because I fear things could otherwise set us back considerably with loss of all the momentum of recent years.

  22. Anyone who has seen Matter of the Heart knows that Rupp/Rahic are control freaks.I’m really worried about the future of this club whilst they are owners

  23. The underlying theme is that of money and a different culture about how it should be spent. In the same way that financial investments have a health warning about values going up or down, something similar needs to be written about investing in an English football club. Edic Rahic is a cold analyst, a man of spreadsheets and his investment strategy of long term growth is pretty alien to English football. Whether it is compatible with English football is another matter entirely.

    At VP I sense we are witnessing a culture shock, not simply of German management style but also one of financial strategy.

    Rahic’s approach is entirely logical but its weakness is that it appears to be black and white with no scope for give or compromise. A pragmatic strategy for example would have retained McArdle at the start of the season.

    Maybe the reason why there is no flexibility in the application of Rahic’s strategy is that there are insufficient funds to be flexible. In fact you could interpret stories of Rahic’s control mania as being the behaviour of a man who is risk averse, consistent with a man who has sunk his life savings into the club and wants the last word on how the funds are spent. All perfectly understandable except that maybe it’s just not going to work. Maybe there should be a financial health warning for English football that success is not guaranteed and you should not invest what you cannot afford to lose. Sadly I fear that that was something that did not occur to Edin Rahic when he did his due diligence.

  24. Very succinctly put Jason. From the fans perspective we have to get behind the manager & the team on the pitch but the players need to stand up & be counted – whatever is going on behind the scenes. There is something clearly wrong off the pitch – I don’t get how players who were giving 110 % a few weeks ago have suddenly lost all motivation & heart? Now is not the time to sack the manager there is always hope we can turn things around but let’s plan for next season now & not panic. McCall has achieved wonders with a threadbare squad & backroom staff when he took over from PP – let’s not forget that! As for the owners time will tell whether they are in it for the long haul or this fantastic club is just a short term hobby for them – do they realise they are playing the hope & dreams of the thousands of fans of Bradford City? CTID

  25. What a mess! I have no idea if something has happened behind the scenes, but this sudden loss of form has come out of nowhere and there has to be an explanation other than simply a loss of confidence. We’ve been frail at the back all season, but we’ve always had something about us going forward, but now there’s just nothing.

    The statement issued by the club on Wednesday did not fill me with confidence. Saying that everyone at the club is sharing responsibility, but then intimating that Stuart’s job depends on results, just adds to the pressure and uncertainty that seems to be growing at the club. All the club had to do was say Stuart will remain manager until his contract runs out, and then they’ll sit down and discuss things in the summer. Right now the club needs a stable guiding hand but that statement implied that the manager’s position is anything but stable. I could perhaps understand if we were near the bottom, but he’s never had us out of the play-off positions! Those people who criticise Stuart with cliches like ‘tactical naivety’ (what is that exactly?) or that he’s ‘lost the dressing room’ (again, what does that even mean?) would do well to remember where we’ve been in the league for the last 18 months.

    I have never heard Edin Rahic say anything positive about Stuart. In the interview he gave to Radio Leeds yesterday, he consistently avoided answering questions about what his thoughts on Stuart’s future were. Stefan Rupp on the other hand has often called Stuart a great manager and seems to have a better rapport with him. Goodness only knows about the politics going on there.

    But at the end of the day, we can blame the owners, we can blame the manager, but it’s the players that cross that white line who are ultimately responsible for the performances they put in. Whatever upset that has gone on behind the scenes regarding Hendrie/McMahon or whoever, however serious it may be, it does not excuse unprofessional performances. The players don’t like the owners? Fine. But go out and at least play for each other, for Stuart and for the fans.

    Oh yes, the fans, booing and sarcastically applauding players when subbed. We complain about the team giving up and not playing to the final whistle, or not having belief, but it’s clear that some fans have lost all faith, and the fact that has happened in such a short period of time makes it feel like some fans have been waiting for us to fail. I’m no fan of Rahic and have no problem with people criticising him for footballing reasons, but the growing xenophobia that seems directed at the owners, particularly on social media (not on Width of a Post, I hasten to add), is appalling and is only amplifying the bad feeling around the club. That’s not who Bradford City are. The owners, the manager, the players, they all have to be better, but so do we as fans.

    We’ve lost five in a row. Yes it’s bad, but in the grand scheme of things it’s a storm in a teacup and will be long forgotten about once we start putting some results together. We’re still in a play-off position. We’re a million light years away from the dark times of administration or when we were struggling at the foot of League 2 under Peter Taylor. Let’s not lose perspective. The club said everyone is in this together, now let’s start acting like it.

    • Excellent post Keith. You have hit the spot on many points that are contributing to making the present situation worse than it need be.

  26. Wow 30 posts and its only Sunday afternoon. My two pennyworth is this:

    I agree with the “get behind the manager” perspective – pretty pointless sacking him at this stage – but McCall must accept some of the blame for what is going wrong.
    My view is that the heart of the problem on the pitch (goodness only knows what is going on off it) – is the midfield….and this is not just the last few games. Our midfield is fundamentally dysfunctional in its two main duties – as a base and backup moving forward and crucial support for the defence. So, in terms of McCall’s midfield selection Saturday:
    – his decision to start with Reeves is very questionable
    – his decision to keep him on at half-time is simply indefensible
    – his decision to play Vincelot in midfield is highly questionable
    – his decision not to play Dieng or the new recruit, Lund, in midfield from the start – if nothing else to give it to give it a bit of height – is highly questionable.
    McCall will bolster my respect for him if he demonstrates he is at least trying to resolve this midfield nightmare.

    • Whilst I agree that the midfield is crucial in any team’s performance and City’s looks particularly disjointed and dysfunctional at the moment. The fact is though, there’s been nobody to replace the likes of Reeves and Vincelot with.

      There’s either kids like Pybus or Devine and god knows what throwing them into a team having an almighty slump would do to their confidence. Or yesterday there was Lund, who’d had a day to familiarise himself with his team mates. That’s it, a team hoping to be promoted this season has a squad that’s lighter than many non-league teams!

      At the moment, it’s akin to moving the deckchairs around on the Titanic. Players throughout the team look tired, severely out of form, or both. With a larger squad, all this could have been averted. Players like Vincelot or NKP could have been given a game or two to recharge their batteries. But without replacements they’ve had to play on through poor form and fatigue. I’m hoping yesterday was the final straw and reinforcements arrive before Wednesday. Without at least 3/4 arrivals, I fear that it’s going to be an incredibly destructive first half of 2018. Culminating in a huge drop in season ticket sales and a search for a new manager. All the hard work done in turning the club’s fortunes around will have evaporated in the two years of Lawn and Rhodes leaving.

      I wonder how many longstanding fans would turn the clock back to the summer of 2016 and settle for the previous owners and manager if they could, regardless of where that could take City? I’m afraid I certainly would and I get the feeling that Lawn and Rhodes maintaining that they’d only ever sell to investors who could take the club far further than they could is sounding terribly hollow at the moment. Either they were misinformed or when push came to shove BCFC’s future was far from crucial in the sale of the club.Better the devil you know!

  27. It’s easy to say City could have signed these four players sooner but whose to say they weren’t after bigger fish that have slipped through the net. C’mon the lads!

  28. I’ve supported City since the days of Ken Teasdale, Abe Rosenthal and Spud Murphy and can safely say that there’s nothing new in the current situation at Valley Parade.

    I have watched Bradford Park Avenue since the heady second division days when they regularly played Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur and thumped Manchester City at Maine Road by 8 – 2 in the FA Cup in 1946.

    As a youngster, I cried my eyes out when Park Avenue sold Len Shackleton to Newcastle United, Geoff Walker to Middlesbrough, Johnny Downie to Manchester United and finally Jimmy Stephen to Portsmouth – all young players nurtured by Park Avenue.

    In my youth the Telegraph & Argus regularly featured letters forecasting a glorious future for Bradford United if the soccer clubs would amalgamate.

    Through it all City have been on the canvas countless times but have battled back to become a force yet again and enthuse a new generation of youthful supporters.

    Are they to be disappointed, as I was, and is it all to be ruined by people who have no understanding of the sporting history of this City of Bradford?

    The Spanish philosopher George Santayana said

    “Those Who Cannot Remember The Past Are Condemned To Repeat It.”

    I would strongly advise the German owners of Bradford City to look at the history of Bradford Park Avenue, Bradford Northern, Bradford Bulls and, of course, Bradford City.

    We have passed this way before.

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