By Tim Penfold
After a six week search for a Head Coach, it turns out that the best interested candidate was already at the football club. Michael Collins has been the manager of the Under 18s for the past season, combining the role with playing in midfield for FC Halifax Town for half of it, and has now been given the job by Edin Rahic in a staggering gamble.
This instantly raises questions about the recruitment process. If Collins was the best candidate and an obvious choice, why did it take six weeks to find him when he was already at the club? Why did so many managers seem to declare an interest then withdraw from the running? And how much of this is down to the reputation of Edin Rahic?
This will be the defining appointment of Rahic’s chairmanship. He could argue that McCall wasn’t really his choice and Grayson was appointed quickly to appease the fans and save the season, but this is his choice and his alone. There have already been worrying rumours throughout the recruitment process that managers were withdrawing over the level of control that Rahic wanted over transfers, and even last night the BBC journalist and Bradford City fan Ian Dennis reported that the highly regarded former West Brom coach Ben Garner had withdrawn from the running.
The club’s new manager statement contains a very specific denial that nobody had turned down a contract offer, but says nothing about potential managers withdrawing once they had found out what the job entailed. So how much control does Edin Rahic want? The worry is that it goes further even than transfers into tactics and selection. Or is it that people just feel that, like Stuart McCall, they will struggle to work with him?
As for Michael Collins, it’s a big step up for him. He has one season of serious coaching experience and due to his responsibilities at Halifax he was not around on matchday for quite a few under 18 games. He’s a less experienced coach than either of the other two internal options, Martin Drury or Sam Collins, and even less experienced than Paul Jewell or Chris Kamara when they took over.
He will need a good support team – the appointment of Greg Abbott as assistant is good news but leaves a hole in the recruitment team – and a good start results-wise. Without that it is difficult to see a restless fan base giving either the manager or the chairman time.
From the couple of youth team games I have seen Collins manage he favours a short passing, attacking system with an emphasis on midfield control. This could be good to watch if it works out, and fits in with what Edin Rahic wants for the club. He also knows the youth team well and may be better at bringing through youngsters than some other appointments. Personally, I would rather have had a promising young coach over a repeated failure from the managerial merry-go-round. But it is still a huge gamble to appoint someone with such little coaching experience, and does nothing to dispel the idea that what Edin Rahic really wanted is control.
Collins and the club will need all of our support this season – we now just have to hope that Edin Rahic’s great gamble pays off.