Defeat to the Bantams sparked Bradford City chief’s interest in Derek Adams

IT was on New Year’s Day in 2020 that the prowess of Derek Adams hit home to Bradford City chief executive officer Ryan Sparks.

Appointed just under two months earlier, Adams saw his Morecambe side suffer a third successive loss in a 1-0 reverse at the Utilita Energy Stadium to remain in the relegation zone in League Two, while the Bantams were riding high in fourth spot.

City may have taken the points that day in 2019-20, but Sparks was left suitably impressed by the honesty and desire of Adams’s Shrimps side, who were hugely unfortunate to lose.

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In the next few months, the Scot did enough to impressively haul Morecambe away from the relegation zone and the rest is history.

In charge: Derek Adams with Bradford City chief executive Ryan Sparks to his right as he is announced as the new Bradford City manager. Picture: Thomas Gadd

Fresh from taking the Lancashire club to an historic promotion in 2020-21, Adams has taken on the sizeable challenge of restoring the fortunes of City and succeeding where others have recently failed.

Sparks commented: “He is a manager I have always admired. He took Morecambe from a very negative position in League Two to get them out of the drop zone [in 2019-20].

“They came here on New Year’s Day [2020] and we beat them 1-0 and I had to half-apologise and I felt for them as they fought like mad.

“I didn’t want to be in the position his team were in that day and I found myself in that position with our club in November and December and it was horrific.

“The steeliness and the way he handled the pressure to get out of the position and then go from relegation contenders to promotion candidates in that space of time and achieve what they have and overcome Tranmere and Newport in the play-offs is nothing short of remarkable.”

Sparks’s comments would be echoed by many across football, with the 45-year-old building a winning mentality, focus and togetherness in masterful fashion in double-quick time across the Pennines and augmenting his reputation for excellence in League Two.

Prior to his feats at Morecambe, Adams revived the fortunes of Plymouth Argyle, handling the pressure of managing a big club at fourth-tier level and taking them out of it in a positive direction.

That is now his mission in West Yorkshire, with Sparks in no doubt that his new appointment is made of the right stuff.

“He is extremely focused and that has tended to lead to success for him,” Sparks continued.

“He does not concern himself with noise and what ifs, maybes and buts. If the budget is not the biggest in the league, it is irrelevant to him and to me.

“Going into next season, it is a very big one for the club and I think we have made the best appointment we possibly could have.”

Adams’s exploits in getting promoted with Plymouth in 2016-17 chime particularly strongly with Sparks, with he and everyone else of a claret and amber persuasion hopeful that the new City manager can replicate those achievements at Home Park with there being clear correlations in stature of clubs between Argyle and the Bantams.

Sparks added: “Plymouth is a big club and a big fanbase and he went in there and spent a long time there – three or four seasons. To do that at a club like Plymouth and achieve what he did in that time should not be ignored.

“We have got a huge fanbase here which has almost got a desperation now to at least be competing in the third tier again. I share that desperation and what Derek brings to Bradford City – and I share that myself – is a relentless work ethic and work ethic proceeds every buzzword you can throw at me.

“If you haven’t got it, you are not going to achieve anything. We will work as hard as we can to get out of the position we are in. That is my absolute promise.”

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