Return of the Mc

Picture by Thomas Gadd

By Andrew Collinson

After the announcement of club legend Stuart McCall, the vast majority of fans voiced their excitement at the appointment, and some, just sheer relief.

Seeing some long-awaited attacking football is a mouth-watering prospect after the overly pragmatic approach adopted by Gary Bowyer.

It’s strange, really, how quickly emotions can change in football, and they wildly fluctuate at Bradford City Football Club.

High hopes and harsh realities

Despite the incredibly disheartening end to last season, it’s fair to say that Bradford City fans were quietly confident last summer; marquee signings of James Vaughan and Bradford-born Clayton Donaldson suggested that the club was recruiting not only quality, but players who would give their all for the shirt, something that was severely lacking last season.

Bowyer himself showed fans that he was keen to engage with them, and repair the bond that had seemingly been broken, when he spent time calling some to simply thank them for renewing their season tickets.

However, the last couple of months have seen that quiet confidence dwindle, with fans becoming increasingly vocal as a result of the overly defensive tactics that has seen the Bantams amass just three points from a possible 21. It became evident that Bowyer had lost the confidence of Bradford City supporters – and this, alongside the poor run of results, ultimately spelled the end of his tenure.

A common goal

Announcing Stuart McCall as manager, less than 24 hours after the club and Bowyer parted ways, seemed to immediately galvanise supporters. A sense of optimism and belief has returned, after it was briefly experienced in the earlier stages of the season, but had since dissipated.

It seems like years since the last time so many supporters were in agreement that the club had seemingly, for once, made the right decision. The board Julian Rhodes and Stephan Rupp need this to work, and the coming months will reveal if McCall is the right choice.

For the last two years the club has been on a downward spiral, and while things have stabilised, albeit without drastic improvement, fans have felt cut off from the club. Sanctioning the departures of two of the league’s highest scorers in January certainly didn’t help matters. The fans have been crying out for someone who represents them and ultimately, someone who is a fan themselves.

Although this is McCall’s third spell in charge, this time it feels different. Firstly, Stuart has inherited one of the strongest squads in the division, many of whom have played in League One and the Championship. This is in stark contrast to his last spell in charge where he managed to get the club, despite its mid-table budget, to the play off final.

Secondly, the players he has inherited appear to suit his attacking philosophy. He’ll have quality wingers for the division in Zeli Ismail, Dylan Connolly and recent addition Glenn Middleton; technical attacking midfielders in Harry Pritchard, Shay McCartan and Jamie Devitt, supported by Connor Wood, who has proved to be an effective attacking outlet for City.

Lastly, Stuart McCall has been given the title of ‘Manager’, not the much maligned ‘Head Coach’. Not only does this mean that McCall will have more say in the transfer market this summer, but it also shows that the club’s hierarchy has absolute confidence in him.

With the fans hungrier than ever for attacking football, Stuart is sure to at least deliver on that front. This arrangement needs to work for all concerned, and now, more than ever is the time to get behind the players and management.

Categories: Opinion

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7 replies

  1. As I said earlier this week I am excited. I want to watch on Saturday. I am really looking forward to it.
    McCall is a brilliant signing.
    He is actually in a win win situation. We do not expect miracles this season but we have a feeling that Stuart might just do it.
    If he doesn’t we will know it is not his fault and we expect him to succeed next season. We shall support him and his team all the way.
    I hope all city fans agree.


  3. It’s a funny thing, I’m angry that the club has no structure, I’m pissed at the short sightedness of this appointment, I’m infuriated at how stupid they think we are… stick a club favorite in there and everyone will forget about the issues.

    But at the end of the day, it is good to see Stuart.

    • Mega – We need long term stability; to build the club up again around someone who can connect the fans with the club. Stuart is that man. He is the living embodiment of the values of BCFC. Values that seem to have drifted away.

      As has been said before – Stuart won’t let us down, but will the club and fans let him down by not giving him the support he needs? I hope that this time around, lessons learned from the disgraceful way he was treated (by a man who had a total lack of respect for our values) mean that he will get the backing he needs to bring the success we all crave.

      And that means putting in place the infrastructure to support Stuart & Kenny. Not hang them out to dry and expect them to carry the weight of expectations on their shoulders. That simply isn’t fair.

      We seem to be a club drifting for the last 18 months. No proper long term plan other than some vague aspiration to be in the Championship in five years time. But how to we go about that? What do we need to put in place to achieve that?

      I get the feeling the club has lost sight of the values that underpin this club. To define what is the DNA of BCFC. What is our ‘brand’ and how does the club live and breath those values in everything it does; the style of football we play; the staff and players they appoint (including CEO); the fans, the businesses they work with to the way they communicate with us all. Even down to who is the next owner of the club. They’ve got to buy into that brand.

      This then is the framework from which the club can start to plan and build for the future, with a clear idea of who we are. This isn’t rocket science. It’s what businesses the size of BCFC do everyday (well the successful ones anyway). Just because BCFC is a football club should it be any different?

      The first start has been made. The appointment of a manager who lives and breathes the values of our club. Now let’s start to kick on and build from there and give SM & KB the backing they need.

  4. Can’t wait………………

  5. Stuart will be the one who will bring back our DNA back and give us what we have lost over recent times. Maybe not this season but definitely next. His heart is a bantam and he has the same DNA all of us have. Stuart we are with you. Come on city

  6. Stuart will lift us from our recent despair under gb, boring football, defensive tactics, he has the same DNA all of us have. Saturday is the start of the recovery of our club. Onwards and upwards. Jordan Rhodes understood the need to change negativity to positivity and that Stuart McCall will bring this back.

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