Bradford City pull off remarkable managerial appointment as Mark Hughes takes charge

By Tim Penfold

Mark Hughes is the new manager of Bradford City.

Yes, you did read that correctly. Yes, that Mark Hughes.

To say this is a shock appointment does a disservice to the word “shock”. Benito Carbone would’ve been a shock appointment. This is beyond any of that – the highest profile manager this club has ever appointed, whilst languishing in the fourth tier.

Forget Hughes’ playing career – excellent though it was. His management career has been spent at the top level – international football and the Premier League. His record has plenty of highlights – getting Wales as close as they’d been to a major tournament for nearly fifty years, punching well above his weight with Blackburn and Fulham, revamping Stoke’s style after Pulisball and laying some of the foundations for Man City’s current success.

He wasn’t quite good enough to take them on to the next level – hence his firing and replacement with Roberto Mancini – but he signed Kompany, Zabaleta, Tevez, Barry, de Jong – all key players who helped turn them into the trophy-laden behemoth that they are today.

Of course there are failures – he didn’t do well at QPR, although the club’s transfer policy could most generously be described as scattergun and confused. He eventually went stale at Stoke, and his most recent job at Southampton wasn’t impressive.

But as a CV for a manager in League Two? This is beyond anything that Ryan Sparks could’ve expected, and makes Derek Adams’ claims that we couldn’t get a better manager look even more ridiculous.

The biggest worry is that he has not managed since late 2018, and has never done so at this level. Will he understand what’s needed in League Two, and are his methods up-to-date?

(If I was being uncharitable to Wales, and wanted to annoy Jason, who is a Welshman, this is where I’d make a snarky comment about the standard of the Wales players in the early 2000s.)

But while his lack of lower-level experience is the biggest question mark against him, this has been swept away in the excitement surrounding the appointment. The mood at the club has turned so quickly that fans will be considering whiplash claims – from apathy, despair and the increasingly loud talk of protests, to joy and disbelief.

We are national news again, and the feel-good factor is suddenly back. Valley Parade will be rocking on Saturday.

There’s never a guarantee of anything in football – Derek Adams taught us that – but with Mark Hughes in charge we can begin to dream again, and it’s been too long since we’ve been able to do that.

Categories: Opinion

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38 replies

  1. I wonder if this suggests a well-heeled takeover is imminent – or if not that, a loosening of the purse strings. Good news, whatever!

  2. A word used numerous times today ,WOW , i don’t think anyone expected that in their wildest dreams and to be honest i’m in shock
    I mentioned the other day that Sparks pulled off a coup getting Adams from Morecombe and now he’s surpassed himself ,well done sir! I can’t wait for the moment when the usual clowns start with “you don’t know what your doing ” as i’m sure we’ll get from some.
    Mark Hughes is by far the most experienced manager we’ve ever had ,can he do it at this level ? who’s knows but i can’t wait to hear the noise Saturday ,wow!

  3. Just when you think the club can’t shock you any more they go and pull this one out of the hat. This news was a suprise but a nice surprise in the rollercoaster journey of supporting Bradford City.
    Mark seems a much better candidate than a lot of the others that were named recently, I think it’s a great appointment by the club. We just need to back him now this summer and beyond and I’m sure he will do a great job for us.
    Fair play to both Ryan Sparks and Stefan Rupp on making this appointment, they’ve both had a lot of criticism recently but think this appointment will be seen positively by most supporters.
    Welcome to the club Mark Hughes, onwards and upwards.

  4. Whiplash is the word! Exciting appointment and hopefully it proves to be a great one.
    Will be interesting to see the immediate reaction from the players on Saturday but I’m more interested in summer recruitment and how much he will actually be backed financially.
    We’ve been in a walking slumber for too long. Would be nice if we woke up.

  5. It’s certainly a statement about the club’s status that he wanted this job and step down to L2 albeit after a lengthy spell out of a managerial job.
    His record at higher levels (seventh mist games in premier league) is decent. I would disregard QPR as that was a joke; various millionaire magnates battling for biggest publicity and trying to bring in players who were not suited for the club at that time. I don’t think any mgr would have thrived there at that time.
    He had better pedigree than Bryan Robson and also the club is more settled off the pitch than during Robson’s time so I would expect a more fruitful period under this Man Utd alumni than his predecessor of that ilk.
    I hope his reputation helps him bring respect from players in the club and potentially new if I get in summer.
    We can’t expect miracles as changing players culture will take a couple of months but if he can build on the improved spirit shown in the first half on Tuesday night and add a bit of his own experience or insights we might at least end the season with some decent form that makes us more attractive in the summer market.
    I am sad I will miss his first game due to other commitments but I will have my eye on the live blogs and an ear to the radio with keen anticipation!

  6. At last, our owner has found his wallet .Otherwise, why would he come ?This is the sort of appointment we needed to give the fan base hope and will add thousands to the gate against Mansfield. Bring on next season .

    • I think Mark has enough money. He says himself he has missed the match day experience so i dont think we will have ‘gone silly’. Indeed he applied for the job, we tell him the wage, he decides to come. We didn’t head hunt him so i believe he will be within our usual pay scale tbh

  7. This could be a brilliant move, even though Mark may be a bit rusty after being away from management. But he talks sense, calmly, when appearing as a pundit on television. He is a different class from Adams, He was an excellent, inspiring player. He has the right values and personality to appeal to the fans, who have been let down and abused by Adams. I’m sure it will give the players a lift, and starting on Saturday we should expect a different performance. Good luck, Mark, in turning the club round.

  8. An appointment on a par with Roy McFarland in 1981 and a welcome statement of ambition yet surprising to see no comments…

  9. I hope someone’s told him about the fans 2 draws and a lose in his next 3 games,they will be shouting for head,and the head of Sparks.So I’ll start the ball rolling………….Hugh’s out.p

  10. I think there is a need to some balance here. If you speak to any saints, Stoke or QPR you will get a very negative view. Being a lifetime Bradford fan, but living in the south, I have been a regular watcher of Southampton and you won’t get much positive press from the fans there. Also, there are numerous footballer tales of his style – if you are expecting uplifting motivation of players or clever tactics, I’m afraid they will be be hard to find. I really hope I’m wrong and the proof will be on the pitch. One positive is he certainly doesn’t need the cash having received so many pay offs !

    • LOL!! Any Stoke fan complaining after three Top 9 Premiership finishes, must be tearing their hair out now.
      It’s a bit like been all ‘meh’ at Chris Wood joining us, because he’s not a prolific scorer of goals at the very top.

  11. Sparky and Sparks. What a combination they could be (we hope)
    Now back it up with some cash. He surely wouldn’t have come without some cast (cash?) iron guarantees about funding.
    Good luck guys. The three of you (I am including the owner) deserve it for courage, and commitment.

  12. Whatever happens now we must all say that this is a wonderfully exciting appointment and statement of intent by our owner and ceo.
    I am now looking forward to Saturday particularly to the occasion itself.
    I hope our fans give Hughes the greatest of welcomes.
    We cannot expect too much too quickly but surely this is the first big step to turning the club into an upwards direction.

  13. Great and surprising coup for the board. He has to have support from the club. For example, an established coach, background staff and a decent player budget. It will be interesting how the team react on Saturday. It will add a few thousand to the gate. Best of luck Mark.

  14. On Saturday at 2.55pm I will stand with every other fan and joyously welcome Mark Hughes as our new manager..and will join in and revel in the chant of “Mark Hughes Bradford Army”. Because like all of us, I’m going to desperately will him to succeed.
    However….I’m apprehensive that Ryan Sparks has made another impulse, short term gamble. Looking at some comments this afternoon from our new manager:
    “Maybe not have the resources I’ve had at some of the clubs I’ve worked at..I’m sure I’ll get all the resources that I need to make us successful.”
    When we look at the frustrations of OKish signings without the most compelling strikers (who just don’t seem to be able to find the back of the net often enough) and a leaky defence, a ridiculous injury list that had Adams scratching his head on the fitness front, a squad that just doesn’t look as fit as the opposition, a training ground at a school that probably isn’t playable in this weather…the challenges of managing in L2….
    Well, let me put my optimistic hat on this afternoon. Lets really hope that the club leadership aren’t just making a headline appointment to shore up summer season ticket sales, and that we are going to see some long term investment to back up today’s appointment…here’s desperately hoping….

    • Think about it. As a player you are being offered an extra £100. Or you could be managed by Mark Hughes. It’s a no brainer to me. This signing attracts players, it also attracts young loan signings from premiership clubs who wants match experience as well as top class training. Coached by Evans/Adams or Mark Hughes???
      This is not a gamble. A gamble is when you have a choice. The board has zero choice. When he put his name in you had to appoint him. That opportunity never comes around again. It might not work out but it had to be done.

    • i never sing the name of the manager in that song untill the manager has earned it. It hasn’t been that often 🙂

  15. Whatever happens now we must all say that this is a wonderfully exciting appointment and statement of intent by our owner and ceo.
    I am now looking forward to Saturday particularly to the occasion itself.
    I hope our fans give Hughes the greatest of welcomes.
    We cannot expect too much too quickly but surely this is the first big step to turning the club into an upwards direction.

  16. A huge statement signing and well done to the club. After days of rumours about the usual out-of-work lower league managers as possible candidates for the VP hot seat, this was a real bolt out of the blue.
    Whilst I welcome Mark to the club. A marquee signing like this isn’t the answer to all our problems. This is a dysfunctional football club. The club has some major systemic problems. This is why we’ve had 8 managers in just 4 years.
    I’ve said before MH’s appointment that we need to give whoever takes over from Derek Adams the time and the patience to rebuild the club on solid foundations. That patience needs to come from both the boardroom and the stands.
    But right now I’d just settle for a team that leaves everything on the pitch.

    • The hope is that marks experience can be tapped into and he can advise the club of what it needs to improve and where it needs to invest : training facilities, back room staff, football related behind the scenes infrastructure. If we take that opportunity then appointing Hughes will be worth its weight in gold
      Like most. Desperate for this to go well.

      • That’s spot on Karl, I’m hoping for the same. This appointment was a bit of a jaw dropper to say the least, totally off the radar stuff. I’ve been reasonably vocal in my views over the past couple of months at Stefan Rupp and the way the club seems to be run and lack of infrastructure etc. Like many I suspect this evening, hope that this may either be a new dawn of investment from Stefan Rupp or a new stream from elsewhere as has been suggested via interpretation of some today’s interviews. I’m hoping that no stone is left unturned to improve us off the field as was mentioned also. The real benefit going forward will be Mark Hughes’ contacts in the game for loans, transfers and lord knows what else, this could be the smartest part of having Mark Hughes as manager. I just hope that our owner gives him every possible means for him to get us out of the basement level, to build the club into a proper, modern, well run, well coached and looked after unit going forward for seasons to come, Mark Hughes could well be the man to do it , if backed properly. The great thing, for me, what was immediately apparent, is that, Mark Hughes can see our potential, its what made him want to come, and I suspect won’t want to be festering away at the arse end of league 2, bumping along from crisis to crisis. Fair play to Ryan Sparkes for getting this over the line, I still think he needs help to build the club back up going forward on the football side of things, I’m sure he’s learnt a lot this season, and I hope this appointment with all of the above works out for him and us I guess.

  17. Is this a knee jerk ,trophy appointment? Or a proven manager at this level?

    • I can only assume that we have serious investors committed and their investment was predicated on Hughes being appointed as Manager. Let’s not confuse great player achievements with capability to manage a football team. Otherwise Bobby Moore and Charlton would have done better than they did and Wenger wouldn’t have stood a chance; or Mourinho.
      His recent managerial performance is woeful and he has not worked for a few years and never at this level,
      Just trying to provide an alternative viewpoint but feel sure I will be shot down in flames.
      Still love the club.

  18. WOW yet again and a massive welcome to Mark!
    At first I thought that I couldn’t see how this could work but then my mind starting thinking about how our own players would react to being managed by Mark and also what new players might now want to come to BD8 with it’s new appeal? Hmmm with a bit of cash we may just turn the corner and finally find a way out of the doldrums! On the day DA goes back to Morecambe too – what strange twist. CTID!!!

  19. Sparks signs Sparky! The future is suddenly brighter! And a new chapter begins with optimism, hope and expectation.

  20. Stunning appointment on a ‘bad news’ day when positive stories were in short supply. When I first saw the story online I thought it was a Photoshopped prank. My son told me he nearly fell off his office chair when he saw the news. Am hopeful that Hughes’ appointment will now help the club to attract further investment and quality players, and so kick-start a rise up the divisions. With the right off-field backing we can certainly aspire to compete at Championship level. Weekend plans have now changed and I hope to drive 400 miles to be there on Saturday.

    • Great to have you in the stands, Martin!

      • Thanks, Andy – will be accompanied by my son who has managed to renegotiate his weekend plans with his girlfriend. Clearly Hughes cannot guarantee success, but am disappointed – though not surprised – by IMMEDIATE cynical comments from some Gimmer Gibber-style ‘supporters’…

  21. There is no negative to this appointment.
    Hughes is showing a lot of desire and bottle by accepting a role at L2 level. There aren’t many that would be prepared to do it.
    Anyone who is negative about this, really needs to take a look at themselves.
    Let’s now please just back him!!

  22. I cant believe there are some slightly negative comments, what more do some people want. This guy must have a big draw for some prospective players for next year. We wont have the biggest budget next year, but surely Mark will make any players think about joining us

    • Our budget has never been far from been the best in L2.
      In fact take away Salford, it’s difficult to think of many more with obviously bigger budgets and we’re certainly in the Top 7.
      Let’s remember Adams signed 17 players – easily 10 of them will be amongst the best paid in L2.

  23. Well, you couldn’t make it up. On the date of the nine year anniversary of us playing in the League Cup final, our former manager Adams rejoins Morecambe and the former Hull City manager who was linked with us, McCann, rejoins Peterborough United. We then announce former Wales and Manchester City manager Mark Hughes as our new manager. Thank goodness it’s not Steve Evans. Let’s hope that Mark Hughes does better than Bryan Robson did when he was our manager.

  24. In my mind it’s the professionalism that Mark Hughes will bring with him that springs to mind, hopefully a more experienced backroom staff for training purposes, also lack of injuries can be a factor with the correct ways of training methods.
    Having the right fitness regime makes a big difference as we found out when we had Phil Parkinson at the helm.
    It will be interesting to see how many off the injuries suddenly disappear,
    I’m not saying all our injuries are fake, but like in everyday life we all know certain people who are of work at the drop of a hat, and I do believe football is no different in this respect.
    Mark Hughes has got to be commended for putting this kind of pressure on himself, because now the whole of football is watching,
    Come Saturday the melee of press around him as he walks to the dugout will tell us all this, we will even get a mention on football focus.
    This could be the chance for the club to improve across the board as he would not have come without certain agreements such as the training facilities the buying of players etc, etc which have been reported in the press.
    On Saturday I will be talking my 9 year old son to his first ever City game, this was rearrange from the Boxing day fixture as I no longer live locally,
    What ever the outcome my son will get to experience a rocking Valley Parade and he will see history and hopefully become a Bantam for life.
    Come On City.

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