By Andrew Collinson
It’s fair to say that the appointment of David Hopkin as head coach didn’t tear up trees, but he came with a reputation of being a firm but fair figure; said to bring a traditional approach to management with a more direct style of football.
However, after City’s poor start to the season with Michael Collins in charge, the majority of supporters welcomed the idea of a more stern and experienced man in the hot seat.
City’s first few games under Hopkin were frustrating, but promising. A defeat to Blackpool after surrendering a two-goal lead was a bitter pill to swallow, but the signs were encouraging; City were showing more effort and commitment. This didn’t go unnoticed among the fan base, who could see the signs of an improving team that would, under Hopkin’s stewardship, kick on and put some distance between City and the relegation zone.
Unfortunately, after five defeats on the bounce, that initial optimism has waned and for some, Bradford City’s fate already seems sealed. In those five games, a paltry four goals were scored, with an even more alarming 15 goals conceded.
Fear not City fans. Co-owner Stefan Rupp intends to stick by his man. Admittedly, this doesn’t say much considering that Rupp publicly declared his support for ex-manager Stuart McCall, before proceeding to relieve him of his duties 11 days later.
On Friday, Rupp issued a statement saying that Hopkin has his support on matters concerning the backroom staff and the January transfer window.
Brilliant! Well, not quite… Rupp seems to be missing the point. He has spoken of Hopkin as though he is an under-fire man and that fans have lost their patience with him.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fans can see how much he cares, and know he has pedigree after the job he did north of the border with Livingston. These are not his players, and to be fair to Michael Collins, they weren’t his either.
Some fans have said Hopkin should be more flexible in his style of football, and play to the team’s strengths. Of course I see that point of view, but I disagree for two reasons: firstly, the owners appointed Hopkin knowing full well how he coaches his teams to play football; secondly, have the players demonstrated any strengths thus far that a manager could adapt his style to? I don’t think so.
One thing that can be agreed upon is that the fans want to see Bradford City succeed, and would love that to happen with David Hopkin at the helm. The reaffirmation of his commitment, amid speculation he might walk away, was generally warmly greeted.
Either Rupp is blindingly ignorant to what the real issue is, or he thinks that fans of Bradford City are very naive.
Bradford City is a working class club, with working class fans. They as a fan base have experienced almost every conceivable high and low, so it really isn’t easy to pull the wool over their eyes.
In a Twitter poll, a portion of Bradford City fans expressed who they believe is responsible for City’s current sorry state of affairs. Sufficed to say, the outcome isn’t surprising: 75% blame Rahic, 22% the players and only 3% Hopkin,
Acknowledging what the issue within the club is would be a good way to try to regain the trust of the fans. Just a thought.
This article isn’t about Rahic though, it is about Stefan Rupp and David Hopkin.
It is great that Rupp is publicly supporting Hopkin. However, it remains to be seen how much he’ll support the head coach in January when recruitment really could mean the difference between survival or regressing years back to League Two.
Actions speak louder than words. Please back your man, Stefan – and perhaps there might be way out of this mess.