Bradford City: Mark Trueman deserves his chance after Derek Adams departs
On the pitch, his side failed to win for an 11th time in 15 League Two home fixtures in a 1-0 loss to Exeter which was more emphatic than the narrow scoreline suggested. The mood was toxic.
A chorus decrying Adams’s style of football echoed around the stadium from significant sections of those present in claret and amber in the second half. Raucous chants of ‘Adams out’ followed at the final whistle.
Adams conducted a post-match radio interview which deepened the fissures between the supporters and himself.
The bottom line was that the 46-year-old was rapidly running out of friends within the City fanbase and time with the club’s hierarchy who were faced with a big decision.
It culminated in his departure on Tuesday morning after just 256 days at the helm.
The Scot brought in 10 players in the summer transfer window and seven more signings in January, but could not get a regular tune out of those at his disposal.
You had to go back to August for the previous occasion that City – eight points adrift of the play-off positions on Saturday night – won back-to back league games. They also exited all of the cup competitions in the first round.
For a club understood to have one of the highest budgets in the division, it simply was not good enough in the final analysis.
Matters will turn to talk of Adams’s permanent successor. One of the early names linked in Michael Flynn will not be coming after being appointed by Walsall.
The likes of Grant McCann, Pete Wild and Steve Evans are among others who have been mentioned among the runners and riders.
First-team duties have been entrusted to Adams’s assistant Mark Trueman on a caretaker basis. He may be just 34, but is no novice at least.
The Bradfordian stepped up last season, initially as interim manager before being handed the full-time reins alongside Conor Sellars after steering the club away from a precarious mid-season position in 2020-21 when City’s Football League status was in jeopardy.
A remarkable run of form in late winter and early Spring saw City progress from relegation candidates to play-off contenders, only for the club’s form to tail off badly at the end of the season.
Adams was brought in, but Trueman remained and impressed him enough to promote him from first-team link coach to his deputy. He will now take charge for a second spell, starting at Oldham on Saturday.
Bradford chief executive officer Ryan Sparks told The Yorkshire Post: “What I would say about Mark is that if you cut him in half, he bleeds claret and amber. Mark Trueman defines the term of ‘clubman.’
“He is selfless and has stepped into the role at very short notice. This will not be the same challenge it was for him when he last took over.
“He is probably a different Mark Trueman as well now. He will have developed himself and learnt a lot under Derek Adams and will have also learnt a lot from his time in charge.
“What you have in Mark is an extremely capable and caring pair of hands who will fight tooth and nail for Bradford City and that is what is very important at the point.
“He is a person who never got the recognition he deserved for close to single-handedly saving the club from relegation last season.”
After managing in front of no spectators last season due to stadiums being empty due to Covid, Saturday will represent a nice moment for Trueman when City head over the Pennines.
Even accounting for the club’s recent form, the away end is sure to be heavily populated and after the rancour of last weekend, the sight of Trueman in the dug-out is likely to at least receive a much more warmer reception.
Sparks continued: “There will be nothing more proud for his family and himself than to get a roar from a proper Bradford City away end on Saturday.
“He deserves that and it wll be nice to see. The entirety of his experience (last season) was played out in front of empty stadiums and away crowds.
“Had there been crowds last season, then his tenure could have ended in a very different way, possibly magically.
“But when you are doing it in silence, it is very different as the supporters of Bradford are a ‘12th man’ and it was a 12th man we never got last season as we were playing with one hand behind our back in that regard. Our biggest asset was not in the building.”
Some 31 league games into 2021-22, City are in 11th place, a distance away from the play-offs. They haven’t given up their hopes of gatecrashing them just yet.
Back in their promotion season of 2012-13, they were also 11th after 31 league matches following a defeat. It was a year which ended in play-off glory.
In the very short term, some positive results and harmony between the City players, fans and management would suffice.