Flashback to the 13th of December 2020, and Bradford City announced the sacking of Stuart McCall for the second time in three years- an odd decision as the board had given the Scotsman a year contract extension just 17 days earlier.
A dismal run of six consecutive defeats eventually resulted in the dismissal of the Bradford stalwart, but fans remained split on the decision, with some believing he never deserved the contract extension and that he was stubborn with his tactics, whilst others wanting a manager to be properly backed for the long run, as City haven’t had a manager last as long as a year since McCall’s second tenure in 2018.
The Bantams have had five different managers at the helm since then, and are currently on the hunt for a new boss to come into West Yorkshire and take charge of the club- but should the current caretaker duo of Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars be considered for the job on a permanent basis?
Bradford fans have rejoiced with the promising job Trueman and Sellars have done since taking charge of the first team earlier on in December, but others weren’t as surprised, as the youth coaches had also taken the Bradford youth team on an emphatic cup run which eventually came to an end against Chelsea, who boast one of the best academies in the country.
Trueman and Sellars’ are only the second manager(s) in the club’s entire history to have secured ten points from their opening four games, with the only other manager to do so being their predecessor, McCall, back in 2016. Along with that, under the new management duo, the Bantams got three back-to-back victories for the first time in over a year, showing how McCall and Gary Bowyer had lacked momentum and form when they were in charge of the club.
The interim pair have impressed new Chief Executive Ryan Sparks so much that he had announced the duo had his full support and backing heading into the January transfer window, which some City fans had labelled the most important in the club’s history. Sparks said: “Mark and Conor have done a tremendous job in turning around our fortunes over the past two weeks. It is important they, our supporters and our partners have clarity, and we feel this provides it.
“They will have the final say on who comes and goes at the Utilita Energy Stadium and have important resources at their disposal. I know the support they have had from our fans has meant a great deal to them. There is a huge sense of pride among us all at the moment, and I know they are looking to pick up where they left off.”
Fans are also backing Trueman and Sellars for recognising the problems McCall could not, such as Ben Richards-Everton. The towering centre-back had become a scapegoat at Valley Parade, and rightly so, he had proved a liability and lost confidence quickly, often firing the ball out of play when a simple pass is on and often recklessly fouling the opposition in the box, which has damaged the Bantams far too many times.
With the pairs roles in the club prior to the departure of McCall’s sacking, it’s clearly had a positive effect with the youth now flourishing in the Bantams first team, with Finn Cousin-Dawson taking his chances at right-back under the new stewardship, Reece Staunton already firing before his injury, and Kian Scales, Jorge Sikora and Connor Shanks all having played parts this season. Trueman and Sellars could help to implement more youth in the first team and rebuild the club’s reputation as a football team who give youth a chance and therefore strengthen that connection between players and fans.
Heading into January, and Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars have broken records with their form, changed to a winning formation, told the players the fans aren’t keen on they have no future and most importantly brought the team and supporters alike back together. Whilst it may currently be on an interim basis, the two youth coaches are proving they deserve to be a first team management duo – and if they can keep up these sort of performances and quality, they may leave Sparks with no choice but to make the interim job a permanent one.
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featured image credit the telegraph and argus