Time for a change?

By James Chamley

And so it begins. After a run of poor results and frustratingly predictable performances, the first grumbles of a change in manager have appeared on social media from, at the moment at least, a small minority of the fan base.

However, this time, maybe it is us who need to change our approach by allowing a manager time to learn from and rectify issues within the club instead of digging out the shot gun.

Every supporter is of course entitled to their opinion; however, you would have to be very numb to the failings of the last few years to believe another change in manager would breed any different results.

I’ll begin by saying I was never initially convinced by the appointment of Derek Adams as Bradford City manager. His overall demeanour, coldness with supporters and style of play weren’t particularly traits I felt I wanted as the manager of Bradford City. His success elsewhere could not be doubted, however being successful with Morecambe requires a much different skill-set to managing Bradford City.

My personal highlights whilst being a Bradford City supporter were the Parkinson era, followed closely by McCall’s first season in his second spell. These were times where I genuinely loved our manager and felt I could support them even if performances or results slipped. This was due to their personalities and identities reflecting the same values I wanted my club to have.

Although Parkinson’s direct style of football wasn’t always pleasing on the eye, I always felt his teams had a go and performances would represent the fan base. These were the qualities I wanted to see in the next Bradford City manager and I had doubts whether Adams would bring that. However, I am absolutely not amongst the few in the ‘Adams Out’ camp.

Whoever the next manager was after the debacle of the last few years was always going to be somewhat fortunate in the fact that we had to give the next man time no matter who it was. The fact that it is a proven winner at this level we appointed, just stresses the importance of this even further.

Not since the 2016/2017 season have the club started and finished a season with the same man in charge and with each mid season managerial change, (a short upturn in form under Trueman and Sellars aside) we have got progressively worse. To keep changing managers every season in hope that things will improve is not only unsustainable but also neglecting other issues present at the club.

So far, Derek Adams has failed to get a response from the players after a bad performance. This probably says more about them than it does him, however. Aside from Yann Songo’o and maybe Niall Canavan, are there any other players in that dressing room who lead by example, demand better from themselves and from their team mates, who take pride in clean sheets or making sure they score that all important second goal in a match? It doesn’t seem so.

One player who City could have done with having around is Oliver Crankshaw. Given the injuries especially to Charles Vernam and Abo Eisa, City are without genuine pace and energy in the forward areas. Coupled with the fact Crankshaw has been scoring for fun whilst we, in Adams words, are not scoring enough goals from around the team, it does seem a very strange decision to let him go especially since we did not replace him.

Some supporters have also questioned whether Adams has been right to openly criticise his players in the media recently after he questioned their winning mentality after they threw away a first half lead at Tranmere. It seems he has been proved to be right in his claims given exactly a week later, the same group of players threw away another half time lead away from home by giving away an early goal after missing more good chances. A carbon copy of the Tranmere game. They did not heed their warning.

Whilst it is easy to criticise Adams for his post-match interviews given it did not get a response from the players, it is important to remember in the early months of the season he did try a different approach. After what most fans would agree was a pretty average performance (at best) at home to Barrow in September, Adams defiantly backed his players, stating he was happy with the performance and his side undoubtedly deserved the victory. This was not the only occasion he was forthcoming with praise for the team’s performances despite them not getting the desired result.

However, the ‘arm around the shoulder’ approach in the early stages of the season did not work as performances if anything began to get worse and the players continued to repeat the same mistakes. They seem to be doing the same thing now after being criticised openly which suggests no matter what approach Adams takes with these players, unfortunately not much is going to change until new personnel is added.

I mentioned earlier the importance of having a certain identity and personality to be a successful Bradford City manager. The same can be said for being a successful player. There is talent in this squad and players whom you could imagine having successful careers elsewhere at this level, if not slightly higher in some cases. However, as a fan base we have certain expectations which sometimes go beyond simply having technical ability.

It could be argued for example, Elliot Watt has a better passing range than Gary Jones, Paudie O’Connor has better distribution than Rory McArdle, Alex Gilliead has a better first touch than Kyel Reid or that Oscar Threlkeld has a better hairstyle than Stephen Darby. However, we all know who we would prefer representing our club week in week out.

Derek Adams must now be given time to bring these types of players into the football club. He has cited the issues within the playing squad recently and they are ones I believe we can all agree on, which shows he is aware of what needs fixing and his managerial record proves he is capable of success.

Adams was given a three-year deal at the start of the season so unless things get drastically bad (like they did for a spell under Stuart McCall last year) his job safety for this season I imagine will not be in question. I don’t think Ryan Sparks can afford to sack a fourth manager in less than a year of being CEO.

In addition to this, Adams has brought in his own recruitment staff so it would be ridiculous to release him of his duties before he has even had at the very least one transfer window working alongside his own men.

As a fan base we might need to grit our teeth and bite our tongues for a while as things may get worse before they get better. But for our own sanity and for the future prospects of our football club, we need to try our best to support and get behind the manager in hope that a more sustained approach can breed similar success to what Phil Parkinson brought to the club, after similarly not getting off to the best of starts in his reign.

Besides, if things don’t work under the stewardship of Derek Adams, where do we go next?

Categories: Opinion


27 replies

  1. Ilkley Bantam
    I only ask one question who signed all the new players pre season and didn’t this man admit that quite a few of them had played for him before plus of course most were players their previous clubs wanted to get rid of. I rest my case

  2. Some people on social media wanted DA gone after the Salford game, ie six games in!!
    Adams has a three year contract for a reason. Given time, the manager’s record suggests he will get it right. The alternative, an eighth manager in under four years, doesn’t bear thinking about.

  3. I think most people don’t wants Adams to be sacked. However, he has to be backed in January and the boat pushed out a bit more if he can reason why and circumstances demand it. Unfortunately, I fear we may see the usual mix of reasons and excuses, such as –

    It’s hard to sign players in January
    Teams don’t want to sell in January
    Everyone wants a goalscorer
    We need player xx to move on first
    Something about slimy agents. Etc.

    However I do think Adams will be more upfront and honest about what he needs where other recent managers wouldn’t. Saying that, the club cannot afford to bring in the the low quality of players way down on our list / panic buys like we did in 2018/19/20. Another Guthrie or Brunkner would be just as bad for PR for the fans as it would on the actual pitch. Even last window, we signed some good players but ended up bombing out Rowe and Cranksahw – regardless of the circumstances, it looks chaotic.

    January alone may well be too late for this season, so part of the focus will be getting the fans trust and confidence to renew STs again. There does seem to be a growing resentment on social media and forums at least to Rupp (and Sparks – but that’s a whole other topic) and there is a feeling that we agreed to pay more to bring in even worse players from poorer backgrounds than what we have before.

  4. Totally agree , although Adams style of management may not be agreable to us all ,he is proven at this level but he’s not a magician he can’t change things overnight ,we’re still only 4 months into this season and he definitely needs time to put things into place . We have shown many times so far this season that we can be a force in this division but the inability to finish games off is endlessly frustrating at the moment. However i for one still believe we are a stronger side than recent teams we’ve seen at VP . We have never changed manager and had instant success ,it very rarely happens.
    Division 4 ( no amount of marketing will change that reality ) is one of the hardest to get out of ,as City fans we know that all too well. Good piece James ,keep the faith all.

  5. Totally agree – and for what it’s worth, I think it’s about time the players came in for some well-deserved stick.
    Let’s be clear, it’s absolutely torrid at the moment and has been for months. But for years now, when we have these moments, it’s been the manager in the firing line, then by various degrees “the club”, “the culture”, the Chairman, the CEO.
    All of these things need further improvements, for sure, but the ability of successive squads of players to be somehow perpetually immune from direct criticism is baffling.
    Maybe a dressing room culture has developed that believes we are a trigger-happy club, and not without merit we’d all have to admit (*not finishing a season with the same manager in charge since 16/17 is a shocking fact!).
    So, when things inevitably get tough, don’t worry – the manager will be gone soon. And when he is, only then should you kick up another gear to try harder to impress. That attitude is not fit to wear the shirt.
    Riding out bad spells until the manager gets fired has now happened to McCall, Trueman, and is seemingly happening to Adams. But, as James says in the article, Sparks has invested everything in Adams – changing his vision and strategy to create a club structure independent of whoever is in the dugout in order to “back a winning manager” by creating a structure around him using his people – so to fire him now would be madness on every level and leave us with a wretched form book of under par players, the need to build a new structure, and give a manager 12 months just to level us out.
    So why not give Adams that 12 months? I genuinely believe he knows what’s wrong, has already tried several approaches to get a tune out of the squad, has settled on formations that demonstrably create countless changes in every single game, but has rightly concluded the players aren’t up to it / up for it. However important a manager’s role, he cannot stick the ball away anymore than us supporters wish we could.
    Let’s allow a man with a proven track record to put that right in January and the Summer of ‘22, before reaching for the shotgun again.
    The damn things’s not even dusty yet!

    • *that should say:
      … create countless chances in every single game…

    • Well said. And well said James in your article.
      Adams is as good as anyone city could get.
      Maybe he is no Mr Nice guy to the fans. I don’t care. Neither were Ferguson Revie or Ramsey,
      Give him the time and the tools.

  6. Whilst we struggle to hold on to leads and the football isn’t pretty (and l admit I have been more interested in the live score news from else where on my phone some matches whilst at VP) we are definitely less of a soft touch than over the previous 2 seasons where it was almost inevitable that we would collapse like a souffle and we would be calling out for some fight and spirit from teams that looked like frightened school-boys.

    Remember all those matches where we bemoaned all sideways and backwards passing leading to the expected mistake and we would gift the opposition with gilt-edged opportunity.

    So whilst things are still not “right” they are better than they were and given some time I think Adams can weed out those players who are not going to be good enough for this team and replace them with the ones he wants. We are not languishing at the bottom half of the table and still within touching distance of the play-offs with a couple of wins strung together.

    If we change managers again that’s more money sucked out of the playing budgets and poured in to the merry-go round of swapping staff and bringing in another set of players the new manager fancies.

    We have done this so many times of late and if too many of our fans demand the same again; it will be the fans that drive this club on to the stage as a laughing stock for the amusement of other clubs. Look at Sunderland who have far more resources than us and even been backed by some big owners and their fans are still stuck in L1 despite their arrogance in how they were going to “walk-it” when they came down from the Championship. Size of a club and history mean nothing in football when it comes to trying to build a new identity and culture around the team, and isn’t made easier by constant demands for promotion.

  7. Adams will not be sacked. He has a strong personality and he is determined and incredibly stubborn. It’s his way or no way and he does not listen to other’s opinions. These can be good traits but frustrating to supporters. The squad we have is at best poor. The decent players we have are either injured, sent out on loan, sold on or never picked.
    Last night we played well in the first half against a team who made 7 changes. They had their full compliment of substitutes, we had just 5! We missed chance after chance but failed to score. Everyone knew what was going to happen second half. Exeter’s manager brought on his big guns and the outcome was inevitable. What Adams did is take off our best threats in Sutton and Angol and things got worse. A good manager makes changes to affect a positive outcome. Clearly doesn’t work with Adams. He doesn’t have the squad.
    I agree with the point that proven goal scorers are not going to be banging on City’s door to join us so your left with the perennial travellers that see it as a short term pay day. January will be no different to previous transfer widows. All hype no substance.
    The worse thing city could do is sack the manager. It would make no difference. The philosophy of the club needs to change. There needs to be communication with supporters. Supporters need to be involved in the running of the club.
    Supporters feel helpless. They feel lied to. They commit to support the club in their thousands by the purchase of season tickets based on false promises and hype. Where has the season ticket money gone? It certainly not gone on player recruitment.

  8. I don’t usually reply to these posts but this time I feel that I should. I totally agree that Adams must be given time to work with his own recruitment team and bring in his own players. (Just like happened with Parkinson). We all know that the current players do not show the effort or determination to succeed which we as supporters demand for our club. Please get off Adams’ back and give him time.

  9. While there’s a lot I agree with in this piece, the fans are not wrong to be discontented right now. Any manager with Adams’ record at City would be under pressure (1 win in 22 or something now?). We were the bookies’ favourites to win the league and I don’t see us even finishing in the top half. This was billed, again, as the season we turned the corner. Remember this? https://widthofapost.com/2021/04/26/ryan-sparks-on-a-big-summer-for-bradford-city/

    If you listened to Adam’s interview after the Exeter game then you would think he is a helpless victim in all of this, powerless to prevent or stop what has happened. But Adams was said to have an input into the retained list and the players we signed. Which would mean Adams signed off on giving Hornby a two-year deal, a player he then refuses to call on even though it’s clear O’Donnell needs replacing. I refuse to believe he did not target Threlkeld, who is the one of the first players I would be replacing in January.

    We’re not seeing any signs of improvement on the pitch, and not for the first time you wonder what they are doing in training (it can’t be shooting practice). Individuals are regressing and with the exception of Sutton, no one’s standing has improved since August. We can’t name a full bench but he has been pretty abrasive with young players like Staunton and Scales who we felt could have a real part to play this season, and the decision to let Crankshaw go looks sillier and sillier with each passing week.

    And I won’t even dwell on his in-game management such as substitutions.

    Every year we look to January to save our season. But would you want to come and play for this manager?

    There may be a lack of leaders on the pitch but there also appears to be a lack of them in the dugout too, because a leader would be saying “What can I personally be doing better? How can I be setting a better example?” Not pointing the finger at everyone else for everything, and seemingly refusing to analyse his own performance and contribution.

    I’m not saying Adams can’t go on to have some success at City, but right now we’re not seeing any signs to suggest that something good is around the corner. And there will come a point passed which there is no return, where he’s burnt too many bridges with other staff, players and fans. Maybe we should think as much about his last season at Plymouth as we do his last season at Morecambe, because right now there are more similarities.

  10. Great article, and I think most BCFC supporters think the same, give the man time.
    Sacking him won’t achieve anything

  11. 2 wins in 21 this is not what we were sold in the summer when our CEO was selling ST, I fully agree DA should be given time.. However it really is time for us as supporters to let those players know we have worked them out and this time it’s them who are under threat of loosing our support and hopefully their jobs within our great club as far too many are simply not fit to wear our shirt.

    I really am struggling with Rupp and Sparks, if Rupp wants to get rid of us he has 2 options sell up and take a loss or have a real go invest and get us going again then sell up and make less of a loss.. Sparks on the other hand was never for me and the sooner he is gone the better he is a flip flop of a CEO one that is all smoke and mirrors (but he did get us new smoke and mirrors and posted it all over social media to let us all know how great he is at his job)

  12. Ony 1 out of 10 previous comments wants Adams gone. I’d say even with that very small sample size, its probably a good representation of how the entire fanbase feels at this moment in time. Adams is going nowhere.

  13. Great piece of writing and completely agree that unfortunately we have to grit our teeth at the moment. My overwhelming concern at the moment however is our CEO Ryan Sparks. It seems when things are great he’s around but recently has results have dipped we’ve not heard anything from him (Despite the Fa Cup replay replay debacle). From a transfer point both Crankshaw and Rowe both left the club under dark clouds with Sparks saying we’re not gonna stop anyone who doesn’t want to play for Bradford City. Surely two players who are now scoring goals in the national league would jump to play for a club our size but it seems not. Surely at this given moment how we could do with both of them. As CEO it must be concerning from a club perspective seeing players wanting to jump ship down a league but Ryan seems to ignore that point. Overall Recruitment has been a shambles and i don’t this squad is any better than last seasons. We’ve seen more injuries in the first 4 month of the season than the whole of last season despite been told repeatedly we’re making improvement in sports science. The new “singing section” in the north west corner for me has lessened the atmosphere in valley parade on matchdays, I’ve not seen anything about the 1903 club and the 4th shirt that was set to be released. Where i have concerns on the pitch my main concern at the moment is with the CEO and whether the job is too big for him. His only previous experience has been in rugby league and where comercially the club appear to be making great strides on the pitch, in the stands and on the training ground it seems we’ve stalled. I’ve no doubt we can pull it round but honesty when we’ve made mistakes and open transparent conversations will help keep fans on side in what is proving a difficult season so far

  14. In recent years we have had too much of the revolving doors with managers and look what it has gotten us. With this bunch of players we have I am resigned to hopefully finishing mid table this year. I think any talk of promotion or play offs is pure fantasy. You can’t lay all the blame on Adams. I was at Exeter last night and other than our usual non scoring we were by far the better team in the first half but came out in the second as if we were 5-0 down and nothing to play for. It was the same 11 players so why did most of them decide to switch off and play like a Sunday pub team. Was sat with a neutral and he commentated that Angol just didn’t seem to care. Gillead was his usual no end product Again! Surely now is the time to drop O’Donnell and give Sam Hornby a go. At least he doesn’t suffer from anxiety attacks if he comes away from his line.
    I do blame Adams in his team management & selection, OK we have injuries but we let youngsters who did us proud last season go out on loan when they could have provided an option to try. They certainly couldn’t do worse than the present shower. Last night I was lucky in that I only had a 90 mile journey home. I feel sorry for those who suffered the long trek from Bradford and the even longer feeling journey home.

    • Very accurate report-I was at the game and heartened to see City move the ball around the park with confidence in the 1st half -the football was pleasing to watch .
      However the need for a second goal grew larger.

      Exeter should have been beaten after 45 mins .
      What transpired in the 2nd half was difficult to stomach -almost like a different team
      Some players mentioned above need to think hard about their commitment to the Club and perform for 90 minutes.

      Going 2-1 down -the call for substitutes from the faithful fans was clear -we needed to go two up front-the subs were too late and ineffective.

      I hope Adams can turn it around -there is evidence that we can play well however confidence seems lacking.

  15. Reality Check. City and Sparks have no choice but to back Adams. He deserves two more transfer windows. Time for Rupp to release some of City’s cash he’s stockpiling.

  16. How I read it, the manager has lost part of the dressing room and he wants them out .I have stated many times about certain player’s in the squad are not good enough and we resigned some which was a joke in my view .The club now has to back the manager ,he has a three year deal ,we can not keep changing the management so back in January with the money to make a differance and get shut of the player’s he dose not want.

  17. I’ve got a hunch the issues go much deeper than the manager. I think the whole club needs to address a few really key issues right now:

    – Are we being run professionally, with the required standards of coaching (fitness being a key one), facilities and medical staff for our level? Where do these compare with other teams in our league and above? I’d be interested to know.

    – Is the ownership situation beneficial to the running of the club? Thankfully Rupp keeps us afloat and doesn’t have the destructive mentality of Rahic. Personally though I think we need something in-between – someone who is around Valley Parade and following the direction of the club from a footballing standpoint.

    I just think we are lacking some real direction and professionalism behind the scenes. How can teams like Morecambe, Accrington etc. be in the league above us with a fraction of our resources and reputation, if professionalism behind the scenes doesn’t play a large part? Just a thought, I may be way off

  18. cant make silk purse out of a sows ear its time to change a lot of these players who just not good enough

  19. Sack the manager again? Waste another January window and we are back to square one. There is only one man who can change the fortunes of Bradford City AFC and that’s our reluctant, invisible owner Stefan Rupp. He needs to either bite the bullet and back the manager to invest properly in quality players with a winning mindset to get us out of this league or sell the club for it is now worth, not want he paid for it.

    Without true leadership and ambition from the top the club will continue to go through the motions of players & managers coming and going and no real change.

    The fan base has invested in the club, record numbers of sponsors & partners through the excellent work of the Commercial Team at City have invested in the club…it’s time the owner did the same.

    Be great is West Yorkshire Sport could track the man down and ask him some tough questions on behalf of the beleaguered fan/customer base. We know he doesn’t want to be involved but he still owes us for the damage he caused by releasing ‘Mr.ITF’ on us.

    • WYS struggle to find out any info from DA or his team re injuries week to week so a trip to Germany would be a waste of time!! It’s like they are scared of pressing him!

  20. I for one think that sacking Derek Adams would be a Hugh mistake give the man time and yeah it was a big mistake letting crankshaw go OK we got a fee for him and I for one hope that this is used to bring in the right personnel to kick our season back up the valley parade Faithfull turn out in numbers and the away support is fantastic look at scunthorpe away recently it took us the fans getting on there backs to get the goal we needed especially against a team rock bottom of league 2 here’s hoping we see more commitment from the players and more heart come on City CTID

  21. Fully agree with this article. To replace yet another manager now would be a national embarrassment. Didn’t Parkie in one of his last seasons go 20+ consecutive games without a win? Didn’t McCall’s team in his second managerial stint, in the season he got us to Wembley play off final, have at one point more draws to their name than any club in European football?
    whilst I do think that Adams has the experience to see us through, I would like to suggest he might benefit from a refresher on a glossary of some basic footballing terms:
    SQUAD- a wider group of players beyond the preferred first choice eleven. They all pull a wage, and whilst you wouldn’t play them week in, week out, they lighten the load of the the first choice eleven, especially in minor cup games no one cares about. Also useful to pull on when first choice players under- perform to demonstrate that performance matters and under performance actual has consequences.
    SUBSTITUTE- an opportunity in a game to replace one of the starting eleven with a player sitting alongside the manager on the bench. Sometimes deployed to adjust the tactical formation, also useful to replace tired legs with a fresh pair- especially when playing teams that are illegally adding in subs because they apparently can’t count.
    SHOOTING PRACTICE- a method in training of reminding attack minded players how to actually put the ball between the wooden sticks (see also definition of what a GOAL is).
    FITNESS- not just a method of applying physical and medical science to maintaining stamina & strength, but also a means of maintaining body & muscle tone to avoid picking up excessive injuries every 10 minutes.
    YOUNG UP & COMING PLAYERS- not always the finished article, but a raw talent that can be developed for their benefit and the club’s.

  22. In no particular order
    Threlkeld unless as a midfielder maybe
    All regular starters are simply not gonna get the job done. Tried and tested and not at the level. Not enough either consistency / effort : tracking back / not quick enough / conversion of shots to goals pathetic or simply not good enough to be part of this first 11 moving forwards if we are to get promoted ever.

    I honestly don’t think we are far away.
    But these 4 make up A 3rd of our starting 11!

    Please see O’Donnell record since he joined!!

    Simply put for things to change we need to change things.

    The other players must be driven mad lining up alongside the ones who aren’t up to it.

    Keeper change bare minimum for next game?

  23. 100% agree with this, whilst it is horrible to watch currently we have to allow him not just January but into next season as well.

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