BRADFORD CITY joint chairman Edin Rahic last night insisted new head coach David Hopkin will have the final say on all football matters after refuting suggestions he has been too hands-on with previous regimes.
The former Scottish international this week became the fourth man to take the helm at Valley Parade on a permanent basis since the start of 2018.
Michael Collins, a surprise appointment in the summer, lasted just 77 days before being sacked in the wake of a start that had seen just six points claimed from as many league outings.
With Stuart McCall also being dismissed in February and Simon Grayson rejecting a two-year contract extension three months later, this has been a turbulent few months at a club that had become a byword for stability during Phil Parkinson’s near five-year reign.
Disillusioned supporters have blamed Rahic, whose relationship with McCall towards the end had deteriorated markedly. The City joint owner, however, is adamant those suggesting he has a hand in team selection and which players stay or go are wide of the mark.
“I don’t know where this discussion is coming from,” he said when asked about those supporter concerns. “I hear I am picking the team. How can a chairman pick a team? You can ask the former managers and head coaches, I have never picked a team.
“It is obvious my opinion doesn’t matter. Of course it doesn’t. It is the coach’s job. I pay them to do that job. So, they have to make those decisions.
“Look at Matt Kilgallon (City’s 2017-18 Player of the Year who left for Hamilton last week after being frozen out). The coaching team decided and only then informed me that Matt Kilgallon was not in their plans.
“Regardless of there being a transfer committee or not, the coaching team did not have him in their plans. They informed Matt and I then had to deal with that, ensuring what was best for Matt and for the club. I have very good relations with Matt and he was really very fair.”
Many of those who feel Rahic’s influence at Valley Parade extends too far point to the close season, when four of the eventual 17 signings were made before Collins had been appointed.
Rahic explained: “In the summer before we appointed a head coach, we had to make the decisions on players. It was Greg (Abbott, head of recruitment) and me then.
“Now, David is in charge and he will have the final say. The club would never sign a player for the first team when the manager does not have the final say.
“Why would a club do that? If the head coach does not play that player, then he is sitting next to me in the stand.”
Such is the sense of unhappiness among supporters that a photo of Collins looking up towards Rahic from his seat in the dugout at Southend United quickly went viral on social media, the inference being that the head coach was being told what to do by his joint chairman.
“There was a picture of me during half-time,” added Rahic. “It was 0-0 and I saw them sitting on the bench. I said to them, ‘C’mon, we have a chance to win this game’. I wanted to show my support to the coaching team.
“Later, I was told (fans were saying) it was 10 minutes to go or 20 minutes to go, to influence the tactics or whatever.”
Asked by The Yorkshire Post if he had been worried Hopkin would be put off by this perception that the joint chairman interferes, Rahic replied: “It is very difficult for the club that people on the outside see only negativeness. Then, they have their own perceptions about what is going on at the club.
“But then he met me and his wife met me, and they saw I was a totally different person. I would think he had to have the feeling we could work together.
“His success was to have a very good relationship with the (Livingston) chairman. He can be successful again by having a very good relationship with me and vice-versa. Based on the short time we have known each other, I have a very good feeling.”
Hopkin, fresh from those back-to-back promotions in Scotland, returned to the club where he remains the record signing with a reputation for being hard but fair with his players.
“I have got high standards as a coach,” said the 48-year-old. “We have had double sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, and the players are starting to believe that I can coach.
“It is just about building that up over the next six weeks to get them up to speed. After that, I will be relentless with them.”
Hopkin will be assisted by Martin Drury and Abbott at Blackpool tomorrow. Beyond that, though, there is no indication yet as to who will make up his coaching staff. Rahic added: “David needs to know what backroom team is best for him and that is why it has to be his decision.
“If I have my opinion as to what is right and he is not comfortable with it, why should I make that decision? I will give him my full support.”