THE TRUEMAN SHOW: PROMOTION NOW IN REACH FOR REBORN BRADFORD AS DUO APPOINTED
It was no secret amongst Bradford City fans that Stuart McCall’s appointment was not working out, so after his sacking following six straight defeats it’s safe to say no one was surprised. The sacking happened in early December after losing 3-1 to Oldham Athletic and managerial duo Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars were revealed to be taking charge ‘until further notice’.
Since the duo took over, the Bantams form has picked up and the atmosphere around the club has dramatically changed. Fans seem happier with the football being played and naturally, on Tuesday 22ndFebruary the pair were appointed joint managers. It is clear to see why the pair were appointed, they have lost only once since the sacking of McCall and have taken 27 points from 12 matches. Currently, City sit at 11th in the table and are five points off the play-off places.
Not only have they improved results, but they have also improved the squad during the January transfer window. They made nine signings in January and let go of six, adding to the small squad that their predecessor McCall preferred. Many will credit this to the appointment of Lee Turnbull as recruitment director. Not only this but they appointed a new CEO, 29-year-old Ryan Sparks. He is the youngest CEO in the football pyramid. Initially a lot of fans were unsure of the new CEO, due to his inexperience and especially after McCall was given a one-year contract extension during the poor run of form in November. He has since turned the tides and fans seem to align with his visions and expectations.
Speaking to the club’s official channels after the permanent appointment of Trueman and Sellars, Sparks said: “They understand that mediocrity is something we will never again accept, and that every day we simply strive to move forward and achieve our goals.”
One of the nine January recruitments the duo brought in was Burton Albion forward Charles Vernam, who signed an 18-month deal, who had only scored twice in 16 games for Albion after moving from Grimsby in July. Another signing was winger Ollie Crankshaw from Wigan Athletic. Crankshaw scored three goals in 24 games for a Wigan side that sits 23rd, second from bottom, in League 1. Crankshaw has impressed in his short time at the Bantams, adding some much-needed pace to the squad. Both were deadline day deals but definitely not panic buys.
Another signing that has made a big difference is left-footed centre-half Niall Canavan. He joined for an undisclosed fee from Plymouth Argyle. He is the experience heading up a fairly young defensive unit who were leaking goals at an unprecedented rate under their previous manager and style of play.
A massive hinderance to City’s form under McCall was the lack of goals they scored. The managerial duo attempted to rectify this by bringing in two strikers: Andy Cook and Danny Rowe. Andy Cook joined on loan from Mansfield town and Danny Rowe joined on an 18-month long contract. Cook is a physical striker, proven in League 2. Rowe leans more on the technical side with a traction engine of a right foot. The two have been interchanging as the lone target man and given the different styles of play, the rest of the team seem to be adjusting well to the different receiving preferences.
It is clear to see that the style of play has changed dramatically. They now play fast, free-flowing attacking football, assured by a solid defensive line. The football they play is not only more beneficial in terms of results, but fans are also measurably happier. If you had said in November or December that promotion may be possible for City, many would have laughed in your face. Even in games where the football is not aesthetically pleasing, they’re still grinding out results, a clear indicator of a side worthy of promotion.
With three games in hand over some of their rivals and in some of the best form in the league, promotion isn’t a million miles away for the Bantams. With Trueman and Sellars at the helm, things are looking up.