Oxford United v Bradford City: Stuart McCall looking for that ‘invincible’ feeling

Bradford City manager, Stuart McCall.
 Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Bradford City manager, Stuart McCall. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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STUART McCALL is no stranger to long unbeaten runs.

As a teenager, he was in the Bradford City side that went 15 games without losing during the winter of the 1983-84 season.

The following year, the Bantams racked up 13 games unbeaten en route to the Third Division championship while McCall’s stint at Rangers also brought lengthy spells when the opposition could not get the better of the Ibrox club.

It means he has an insight into the mentality of his players right now after Bradford made it a dozen games without defeat since the start of the season by beating Shrewsbury last weekend, a run that has left the Yorkshire club sitting second in League One.

“I was fortunate to go on a few decent unbeaten runs as a player but the longest was definitely at Rangers,” said the Bantams chief. “We lost at Dundee early in the season, after which Walter Smith gave us a right talking-to.

“Our response was to go on a 44-game unbeaten run, which included 10 Champions League games. The double-header against Leeds was included in that, when we won home and away.

“The run eventually came to an end at Celtic, when we lost 2-1. But our fans still clapped us off. That doesn’t happen often after you have lost an Old Firm game, let me tell you. But the fans recognised the tremendous run we had been on and the title was all but sealed by then anyway.

“Going on a run like that makes you feel 10-feet tall. You feel invincible every time you walk out. I know we did at Rangers. Even if we went behind, we just thought: ‘We’ll turn this around’. We went 1-0 down to Leeds at Ibrox inside a minute but still won 2-1. We had the belief. That is a great mindset to have.

“We had something similar at Bradford when I was a young player. We won nine or 10 on the bounce (in 1983-84) and the momentum that gave us was huge. Even if we went behind, we’d just buckle down and get back into it.

“I am not saying we are that stage yet with this Bradford team. But there is a belief about the lads and long may that continue.”

City head to Oxford United today sitting just a point behind leaders Scunthorpe United. McCall added: “For me, this will be our toughest away game yet. They are a good side and have spent a bit of money since the summer. Oxford recently went to Bolton and won so have to be respected.”