STUART McCALL admits to having been “surprised” by Phil Parkinson accusing Bradford City of “play-acting“ in the wake of last weekend’s goalless draw.
Bolton Wanderers’ boss left Valley Parade last summer after almost five years in charge.
Saturday’s encounter at the Macron Stadium was the first meeting between the two clubs since McCall succeeded Parkinson, who afterwards said City players had been “throwing themselves to the floor” and that every foul was followed by a “theatrical roll”.
When the comments were put to McCall at his press conference for tonight’s home game with Fleetwood Town, the Bradford chief said: “It surprised me, but Phil is entitled to his own opinion.
“As someone who once picked up Beni Carbone by his ponytail in a Premier League game for falling on the floor, that is not something I adhere to.
“It never crossed my mind during the game that there was any suggestion of it. There was no play-acting there. Some of our players took some strong challenges, you can see by the booking count (of four to one in Bolton’s ‘favour’).”
City’s battling goalless draw against their former manager’s new club extended the unbeaten start to nine league games under McCall.
The last five of those, however, have been drawn so victory would be very much welcome tonight against a Fleetwood side led by Uwe Rosler, the early favourite to replace Parkinson last summer before McCall emerged as the board’s No 1 choice.
“We are at home now so we have got to find a way to win,” said McCall.
“To do that, we need to be creating opportunities.
“I don’t want to get too obsessed about it because Saturday was a tough game. We didn’t test the goalkeeper enough to win the game at Bolton, though they are probably as strong as anyone defensively on their own patch.
“At home, we want to be on the front foot, which, to be fair, we have been in all the games.
“Against Bristol Rovers (in City’s last home game, a 1-1 draw) we didn’t create loads of chances, but we did enough to win the game.
“But, certainly, the draws prior to that against Oldham and Port Vale, we created a lot and played really well.”
Josh Cullen and Micky Law have recovered from knocks sustained in the draw at Bolton and should start as the Bantams look to improve a record of just four goals from their last five games.
“I wouldn’t say we are concerned,” said McCall when asked about City’s lack of goals.
“But it is something we are aware of and something we are working at, be it formations, partnerships, getting the ball in the area better or set plays – everything that gives you a chance to get a goal.”
James Hanson is again expected to be missing tonight, while Bolton was Marc McNulty’s first start since joining on loan from Sheffield United.
It has left McCall still pondering who will be the most effective front two.
“Once we get everyone back fit and playing, hopefully that might happen,” he added.
Last six games: Bradford City DWDDDD, Fleetwood Town WWWDLL.
Referee: G Salisbury (Lancashire).
Last six games: Bradford City 2 Fleetwood Town 1; January 30, 2016; League One.