Unstoppable force meets immovable object

By Steve Dresser

A confession. I am more of a fairweather fan these days. However I am moved to write a piece considering the mess that City find themselves in. Especially as it’s all self-inflicted and there are fans (you’d better believe it) who still claim everything will be okay and that our erstwhile leader is not in any way to blame for the decisions he has made.

Some of my relatively recent games have seen us at Wembley (twice) a play-off semi-final and a FA Cup quarter final to boot, my (somewhat) recent fixture list is a timely reminder of how far we have fallen.

In my defence; I have my own business and four kids to try and track around shops and other places – it’s like man marking from a corner when you’ve had a man sent off. Just running all over. We don’t concede though which is more than can be said for City.

The point of my write up is one of objectivity and viewing from a distance. I watch games and goals on Sky and also keep up to date to see what the club are saying in the wider world via social media and the forums.

A key point that I keep coming back to when reading the views from people is that there is a hardcore minority who, for reasons best known to themselves are still saying that everyone else is to blame bar Edin.

They refuse to accept any criticism despite a wealth of evidence in terms of facts (IE players signed and those leaving), interviews with the likes of Stuart McCall and a huge churn in off the field staff.

To be honest, it’s probably to side step any such fan who truly acts as if they believe Edin isn’t to blame, in any way. They are beyond help and can tell their grandkids about how they supported the club to the heady heights of 24th place in League One.

Personally, I’d ban them all for life.

At the purest level, the issues are for anyone to see – just look at the league table. We are not getting 50 bonus points from the FA for having an ‘innovative’ head coach style operation, we can’t defend despite signing about 6 defenders in the transfer window. We lose games like anyone else, we get 0 points like anyone else.

Edin is one constant throughout this decline; if that is an unfortunate coincidence (somehow) then we only have to look at his statements to the press and his decision making. He has left himself wide open for criticism and with it, the club are 24th in League One. Who else is to blame?

The (now infamous) ‘I know football’ comment was a disaster waiting to happen, why would you ever make such a statement? It was only ever going to come back and bite us on the backside. Even if he really knew football, the manager and playing staff would get the plaudits (and quite rightly).

Greg Abbott is the other ‘constant’ (of sorts) and it remains unclear how many of the players that couldn’t pass water, couldn’t trap a balloon and think pointing is an effective defence against a player running in unmarked (Josh Wright) he is responsible for signing. Certainly, the January transfer window was an utter disaster and even those days seem a million miles away now. That said, I find it hard to believe that Abbott would have had someone like Kai Brunker on his radar as a solution to any striker problem last January. (for a start I don’t think Brunker was on Championship Manager 97/98).

It isn’t about those comments or the players that have arrived or the decisions made around the head coach, around young players, around being happy to lose 4-3 but for young players to score. Nor is it the woeful German players, or the one who couldn’t get in our team but went to Nottingham Forest, or the unbalanced squad or the players signed when no manager was present, the list goes on and on and on.

It’s about the fundamental flaws of the self-proclaimed business model, the decision making and about the future. Whatever may happen going forward, we are in real trouble with the current structure and player recruitment strategy (if one can call it that).

There is a great business book called ‘Good to Great’. It focused on a number of companies and principles were then developed for a company to succeed despite larger competitors or trading in a niche industry. One bit from the book was the “Stockdale paradox”. This is a concept incepted by Jim Stockdale; a US admiral who was captured in the Vietnam war and held in solitary confinement for 8 years.

The basic premise of how he got through those years in captivity was that he retained optimism that they would be rescued, but at the same time, he confronted the reality of the situation. As in they may not be rescued and therefore, had to prepare for the worst.

He was asked who went first, mentally and then didn’t make it. His answer? “Those guys who thought the war would be over after the first Christmas…..”

You have to wonder if some supporters are anywhere near accepting the reality of the situation we are in. Bottom of the table without a prayer, a terrible goal difference and we don’t look like we’ll get enough points to stop us driving. All this before we start to point the finger at the transfer strategy, the sacking of McCall, the fact we were in the play offs in January 2018 before heading to the bottom of the league in October 2018.

What about League Two? Assuming the worst comes to the worst? How can anyone have faith in the much-fabled transfer committee then? With the CEO/Owner/Chairman head coach setup alongside Abbott and his questionable record?

An increasing number of fans grasp the reality of the situation but going forward; what is in store for the club?

There is little prospect of hope given the dismantling of a superb playing squad and the dismissal of a manager who was not just performing well but had the club so close the Championship, leaving it in the play-off zone. Imagine what the current set up, plus League Two football will do to season ticket sales and in turn, the playing budget.

Replacing players with ones who are nowhere near good enough, either from Germany or closer to home alongside signing young players to potentially sell on (to who?!) then to finish, ones who can’t get in to a bad City side.

Anyone with a part functioning memory knows who is responsible, Rahic hasn’t been backwards in coming forwards about how a model needs to be about others signing players, not just the manager.

It isn’t just the idea of a chairman signing the players hasn’t worked, it’s the much-publicised idea of buying low and selling high that is also flawed. This ‘theory’ is nothing new and it’s not like Rahic has reinvented the wheel, nearly every lower league club must try to do this as their most basic objective? That or a pleasant side effect of having a successful team.

The problem with this being a key plank of the strategy like City is that you aim to weaken your team at every turn and over time become uncompetitive. If you were chasing the league or play offs even (quite the first world woe, I appreciate) and have a Charlie Wyke scoring goals = a club comes in and the likelihood is that City will sell. The model almost demands it, contract negotiations also go that way as the player knows the club will sell, so to force a move, just has to stall on a contract….

If you replace Wyke with quality, a la Brentford for example who seem to have a whole host of players waiting in the wings, bought via data analysis via a huge scouting network to replace a player sold on then it’s happy days.

But we are Bradford City and having had a transfer window in January that was so poor, you are left wondering if there were deliberate efforts to not sign players and leave the squad lightweight, then what would have been done differently? Let’s not forget January 2018 was without Charlie Wyke leaving!

January 2019 is potentially huge but it’s an impossible job to fundamentally change the squad in January unless you are signing out of form, unfit players or indeed, overpaying for players based on form or value to their club and if they can get a replacement in.

Add in the fact that a selling club knows City are desperate given our position and well, what would you do as the selling club? Add another £50k to the selling price….

This week’s news of Julian Rhodes returning is positive, but James Mason left to go to Rochdale (which would not happen ordinarily, surely) and was never consulted despite being on the books to do so. JR being a consultant is good news, assuming he is consulted and perhaps more importantly, he is listened to.

For City, the position of Rahic looks untenable. It’s really is no good coming back and offering yet more supporters events, Rupp offering a few token words in the press and a wider Q&A. We have had that and got nowhere fast, we have had the ‘we’ve learnt mistakes’ PR spin already (we appointed Michael Collins weeks later..)

I genuinely think 90% of fans would not think Rahic would change in any case. Not now. There have been too many chances given. We would get the same player signings, the same model, the same Germans coming over who are not good enough, same youth players taking portions of the wage budget without threatening the first team, the same disappearing act when things get tough.

As Malcolm Tucker, the PR master in “The Thick of it” says in the opening scenes of Series 1, Episode 1 to a hapless minister. “you are becoming the story” …

Rahic is the story. Not Bradford City, not David Hopkin, not the club, the players or the fans and it’s rapidly becoming a case of ‘unstoppable force’ (fans) meets immoveable object (Rahic).

Julian Rhodes could be part of the solution as he comes in on a day to day role, however he will find a club on its knees, virtually unrecognisable from the one he left behind. The biggest challenge for him is recruitment for January and who is signing the players, put simply, it has to be Hopkin.

Julian Rhodes joining as a consultant is the best signing the club have made in some time, perhaps summing up the transfer market record of Rahic and co nicely.

Quite simply, we are beyond the hashtags, we are beyond the gimmicks, it is really difficult to see how things progress until results come on the pitch. With the current squad looking anything but capable, the transfer window cannot come quickly enough, however it may be too late.

Rumours of Rahic bringing a German trialist or two over as he returned to the UK this week reminds me that I haven’t seen the film Groundhog Day for an age.

Categories: Opinion

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23 replies

  1. The appointment of Julian Rhodes has brought with it a mixed reaction, not least considerable disappointment that Edin Rahic remains at Valley Parade.

    I’ve struggled to understand why a man with the credibility of Julian Rhodes should even consider working alongside a charlatan such as Rahic and to risk his own reputation. That is not to question Julian’s commitment to BCAFC but perhaps there is another factor at play.

    Could it be that Julian Rhodes has been engaged to optimise the value of the club for it to be sold in the new year? If that is the case, good luck to him.

  2. Bit harsh that…could have been an interesting piece however i gave up at the ban them all for life comment. Coming from someone who’s most recent games include a wembley final and major cup games id suggest coming down from that high horse and get off the back of those who happen to venture every week and not just when it suits.

    • You are entitled to interpret that any way you like ref: the ban for life. It was written in jest but fair enough.

      I was open with the games I do / do not attend for that reason. I would suggest that it’s not just about turning up but about with what’s going on at the club at the minute. If you are happy to have a club to support then great, that’s fine. Accept the sub par team and ridiculous decision making as the club still exists.

      Then what?

      I look forward to a time where I can go again, but that doesn’t make me any less of a fan than you. I can get out my old season tickets, my programmes etc. It really doesn’t matter.

      What does matter is that we are heading to oblivion and I’m open about the fact that I am unable to go. What about the others who are plainly staying away and have been to games this season, or more recently than I have?

      Another part of the business model that I didn’t touch on was the fact that cheap season tickets are best when the team is going well, as you then do plenty of business on the door at £20. We currently do not have that and the season tickets are staying away too.

      But you can just stick your head in the sand and say nothing I wrote matters because I haven’t been to a game recently.

      Truly. Remarkable.

      • The comment about banning people for life may have been written in attempted jest, but it was in very bad taste, and certainly not of the standard we expect from WOAP. It spoilt what may have been a good article, and , in my opinion, ruined the points you are trying to make.

    • Agree. Anyone who thinks they can reflect meaningfully on the goings on at VP on the basis of a large dose of social media and two minute highlights packages on Sky is deluding themself . Many City fans were prepared to give Rahic the benefit of the doubt until the start of this season but i do not know any who do not question his fitness to run the club to some degree now. At a time when we need to be promoting a unity of purpose and backing DH and the team (rather than Rahic) this article is divisive. If anything came out of the Darby evening it was that we need to stick together and support the team if we are to avoid the drop. Its time to stop the whining and support the team. R/R will be gone soon enough once they realise they will not make a profit on the back of the club. In the meantime its damage limitation

  3. Dear WOAP

    Your posts continually have a dodgy Google add pop up virus attached. Please could you kill it?



    Sent from my iPhone


    • Hi Michael

      Apologises. 100% of the adverts on WOAP have nothing to do with me. They are through the platform provider WordPress. I must admit I had no idea how bad the adverts have become on the site.

      It will cost me money to get the adverts removed, but I’ll look into sorting it (this is a bad week, I’ve just had to pay £900 out in childcare fees!) and get them removed. I’ll probably also look to redesign the site so bear with me a few weeks.


  4. Hi Steve
    Another brilliant WOAP article that is a must read for every City fan.
    Again, I completely agree. Rahic simply has to go.
    The damage is done and no amount of spin/PR/lessons learned/take a step back etc etc will work. He has become the story.
    Just think for a moment……
    He has single-handily systematically and deliberately destroyed every level of our Club from the boardroom right down to the kit-man because he ‘knows football’.
    His ego trip of being a football Chairman because he never made it as a player is quite perverse. His fantasy belief that he can add value as a chairman in English football simply because he ‘knows football’ is just that – fantasy. A person should know their limits and Bradford City need Rahic as much as a fish needs a bicycle.
    Julian, you’ve come back as a consultant. Will this be any different to the role you were playing after the club was sold? What will you be allowed to do now that you wasn’t then? Check the books and see where the money has gone/is going – something seems amiss.
    Rahic – just go already!

  5. Am never overly keen on pieces that criticise other supporters for having views (provided they are held in good faith) that dont accord with ours, especially where the proposed remedy is to ban them for life. Am not sure I understand properly what the word ‘erstwhile’ means in th
    is conext either- but that is probably just me

    • Equally i am struggling to find the evidence for a “hardcore minority that blame everyone else but Edin”- it would be helpful if that could be illustrated better?

  6. Well it seems like a lot of people are still banging their heads against a brick wall, Call for Rahic to go who is going to come in are the fans going to buy him out the same fans who cannot afford an average Yorkshire season ticket price we are the cheapest seats around by far. No we have all to realise we are in a mess but we must stick together and endure what is coming and hopefully Julian will find a way he is the sensible cure and Rahic has at least invited him in to solve and advise where he has gone wrong. we need to give people including our team at least this season after which you can Bark and Snarl all you want

    • Exactly time to move the narrative on from Rahic. Defeatism and division is the surest and quickest route to League 2 and below. Support DH and the team and at least turn up to a game now and again!

      • I have lived overseas for the last 6 years. Getting to matches when we had short breaks in the UK was the only time I was able to get down to VP. I still supported the club from afar, I was peeved when they lost and elated when they won/drew. In October we returned back to the UK to live. I went to VP to watch them play against Coventry. I was late (5 minutes before kick-off) but amazed that I could go straight to the kiosk and buy a ticket. No queue nothing just me! I kept abreast of the issues going on at the club and felt having experienced the atmosphere first hand, seeing them lose 4 – 2, I could understand why supporters are demonstrating by not turning up and their vitriol against the chairman and the strategy he has introduced. Listening to comments from those supporters attending, there was a clear atmosphere of total despondency. No one cared when the opposition scored – it seemed to me to be expected. It was a surreal experience for me.
        I can understand now why droves of supporters are not turning up. There is nothing to entice them back. Bringing Julian back is just painting over the cracks. Like an earlier post stated, he was consulting during the transition period. I would have preferred it if he didn’t open with is comment that Edin is misunderstood/bullied etc. He should show himself to be independent and had to be listened to rather than allying himself to the problem who is Rahic. I would have preferred that Rahic was given garden leave while this process was underway. A very sad state of affairs.

  7. Another excellent article. Keep ’em coming!

  8. I was enjoying this article until that ban comment which is just purely ridiculous. Whether a fan wants to go to a City game or not doesn’t define their stance on the current situation. I said I wouldn’t go to the Coventry match and then sadly changed my mind because I love the club (not the ownership) and wanted to see them “play”. We as fans, whether you go to the games or not, have always said that it’s been brilliant how we’ve stuck together. Let’s not turn on each other now, whatever your opinion.

  9. Excellent analysis Steve! Sums it up perfectly. There is no way forward with Rahic at the club. The rift is too deep and 90% of fans want to see the back of him immediately! Short of a miracle we are down? I have the greatest respect for Julian Rhodes but he and Hopkin are faced with an impossible task, given the damage done by Rahic. The best we can hope for is to win a game or two and stem the further loss of the fan base. This will not happen while Rahic is still there!

  10. They must be a very small minority, I’ve not seen someone defend Edin for a considerable time. As far as I can recall this is the first time I’ve not been captivated enough to finish an article on this site…

    • I thought the same Mitch. A poll I am running on the Fbook group suggests there are a few folk left (circa 4%) – but I dont have experience of them being vocal

  11. I think this was one article too far this week. I don’t know of anyone who backs Rahic.

    Put #RAHICOUT on social media, scrape it in Bournemouth beach just before I walk past (as my son did) – all that’s fine. But some of the stuff I’ve seen written is just ridiculous.

    We’d virtually all rejoice if Rahic sold up, but there is a key word there – ‘sold’ – he is the owner, to sell you need someone to buy. People putting bring back Gibb, saying Rhodes is a PR stunt, ban people for life – it’s just silliness and to be honest weakens the argument.

    Chances are we’re going to struggle to stay up, the bloke has screwed up royally but he has twice now eaten humble pie – Hopkin, Rhodes. Do we give him credit for this – through gritted teeth maybe, and only maybe. Forgive him? – no we don’t BUT please stop quoting social media rumours and lies up unless they can be supported with fact – (German triallists – is it true?) – we no longer know fact from fiction.

    And lastly – Come on City.

  12. Just because people don’t like the content, it doesn’t mean to say it’s wrong.

  13. Rahic has even been criticised for planning a Stephen Darby testimonial as a tacky publicity stunt. Incredible.
    As the main article states, his experiment has failed – and failed badly – but some of the rumours and criticism are woeful.
    As I see it, he’s going nowhere without at least recouping his investment. Given the tight fisted nature of our supporters (who moaned about paying £10 for a priority card and then whined that others who did buy one were guaranteed the Chelsea tickets), the fans won’t be able to rescue the club. And history shows there are no billionaires desperate to invest so the situation looks bleak.
    Either Rahic learns from his mistakes and somehow we stay up or relegation and perhaps administration beckons.
    Either way, I’ll be buying my season ticket next season whatever happens – not because I am a better supporter than those who won’t (I am not, I recognise that some of the absentees have a long history of support both home and away) but because I enjoy going (!) and I don’t want to help bleed the club to death. Admittedly Rahic is doing that but I am optimistic enough to hope that a tourniquet will be applied at some point.

  14. What if change has already happened and for the better. Hasn’t Rahic agreed to take a step back and allow Hopkin full control over the team affairs – including transfers?

    Don’t get me wrong. If somebody gave me the option of retaining Rahic and Rupp or accept a buyout from a Lawn and Rhodes then it’s bye bye Rahic and Rupp for me. However, we can’t forget that our ownership situation is nothing like that of Blackpool, Charlton or Coventry. Rahic and Rupp genuinely want to bring success to Bradford City and are certainly not on an asset stripping mission – what assets?

    Rupp is the invester – and he has invested – and Rahic has day to day management of that investment – which he has failed spectacularly at so far. Brining in Rhodes is a wise move and let’s hope Rahic swallows his pride, learns from his mistakes – and if people genuinely learn from them for the better I can forgive them – and allows Rhodes to make some positive changes to the clubs structure.

    The frustrating part now – if the above changes have and are happening – is having to wait. Little can be done to the playing squad until Jan. We have to hope that we can stay in touch of those places above the relegation zone come the transfer window and push on from there. With regards to off field matters, I hope communication between club and fans is improved upon and quickly.

  15. We are all entitled to an opinion and infighting over our uber fan status, attendance, or insight only serves to keep Rahic in place. To me it’s not the ownership but their approach in that they know football!. If that’s changed fantastic but if not the fight goes on. Let’s not slag each other off.

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