Richard Sutcliffe on Peter Jackson’s surprise departure as Bradford City manager
IT should have been a board meeting like any other.
All manner of topics can be up for discussion, ranging from pie sales through to prospective signings, during the meetings that usually last between two and three hours.
Yesterday’s agenda was particularly unremarkable, meaning as the board members assembled shortly before 2pm that business would more than likely be concluded quickly, allowing the focus to turn to tomorrow’s League Two game with Barnet and the search for a first win of the season.
That belief, however, was shattered as, after an hour or so of discussions, Peter Jackson tendered his resignation to become the first manager in English football to depart his post this season.
Once the news had been made public, the overwhelming feeling around Bradford was understandably one of shock.
City’s start to the season had been a poor one with four league games having yielded just one point. But after a summer that saw 13 new players arrive at the club and Jackson sign a one-year contract, patience was always going to be needed in the opening weeks of the season.
Time was, therefore, still on his side. Or so it seemed.
Conspiracy theories soon started to abound as fans tried to digest the news. Many pointed the finger at the board, citing some form of bust-up as the reason for Jackson’s departure.
Sources at the club, however, last night suggested this was not the case and that the decision had been entirely down to the manager.
Joint chairmen Mark Lawn and Julian Rhodes were unwilling to shed any light when contacted by the Yorkshire Post, instead insisting that the official statement released on the club’s website was all that would be coming out of Valley Parade.
For the record, it read: “At a club board meeting, the football club can confirm that first-team manager Peter Jackson has tendered his resignation. This was duly accepted by the board.
“Peter told the board that in light of the poor start to the season, he felt that to resign now would give the club that best possible chance for the rest of the season.
“The board would like to thank Peter for his hard work in keeping the club in the Football League last season, and wish him well in his future endeavours.”
No doubt the coming days will tell us more but, as someone who has known Jackson since his first stint in charge of Huddersfield Town during the Nineties, I had detected a slight change in his demeanour over the last couple of weeks.
Always an emotional man, he has not seemed quite himself with City’s slow start weighing heavily on his shoulders.
As I have always considered Jackson to be one of life’s good guys, I was slightly concerned but did think it was nothing a couple of wins would not solve. Unfortunately, that does not seem to have been the case and Bradford are now looking for their third manager of 2011.
Jackson’s departure caught everyone on the hop, not least the players with Ross Hannah and Nialle Rodney both tweeting their surprise while seasoned campaigner Michael Flynn said: “I can’t believe it, to be honest. We trained as normal and there was no indication whatsoever. I am stunned.
“No one had an idea. As I left the club, I had a joke with the gaffer as he was in his shirt and trousers. I asked if he had a date and he just said, ‘No, a board meeting’. What has gone on in the board meeting, I don’t know.”
Not only had the 50-year-old taken training as normal yesterday morning but he had, the Yorkshire Post understands, as recently as Wednesday been in discussions with Huddersfield Town over the possibility of Danny Cadamarteri returning to Valley Parade.
Jackson also met the local media as usual, revealing that he had spoken to no less than 19 managers this week in an attempt to strengthen City’s squad.
He also said talks were planned with “an experienced striker” later in the day, once the monthly board meeting that he was due to attend an hour or so later was over. Those talks, of course, never happened.
The key for City now, of course, is where they go from here. Colin Cooper will be in temporary charge for at least the next two games, Sheffield Wednesday being due to visit Valley Parade in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday in front of the live Sky cameras.
After that, however, no one really knows – including the board, who were as surprised as everyone else by the dramatic turn-of-events of yesterday afternoon. Either way, it is going to be another interesting few weeks at Valley Parade.
JACKSON’S TIME IN CHARGE OF CITY
Appointed: February 27, 2011 (caretaker), May 25, 2011 (permanent). Resigned: August 25, 2011.
Record: League – Played 18, Won 4, Drew 4, Lost 10. Goals For: 14, Goals Against: 31. Cup - Played 1, Won 0, Drew 0, Lost 1. Goals For: 2, Goals Against: 3.
First game: Gillingham 2 Bradford City 0; March 3, 2011.
Last game: Bradford City 0 Dagenham & Redbridge 1; August 20, 2011.
Biggest win: Bradford City 2 Rotherham United 1; March 8, 2011 & Bradford City 2 Aldershot Town 1; April 25, 2011.
Heaviest defeat: Bradford City 1 Crewe Alexandra 5; May 7, 2011.