FRESH from being sacked as Bradford City manager, Stuart McCall last night admitted he would have quit last summer at any other club after a “difficult” season.
The Bantams dismissed the former Scotland international in the wake of Saturday’s defeat at Oldham Athletic, their sixth in a row.
McCall learned his fate at a meeting with joint chairman Edin Rahic yesterday morning. The duo are understood to have had an uneasy relationship for more than a year, even though City spent all but 21 days of McCall’s 20-month reign occupying a place in the play-off zone.
“I feel I can leave with my head held high,” the 53-year-old exclusively told The Yorkshire Post. “When I left as manager last time (in February, 2010), I went away feeling I had let everyone down. But this time it feels different. I have done as much as I could under the circumstances.”
McCall returned to Valley Parade in the summer of 2016 just a few weeks after Bradford had been bought by Rahic and Stefan Rupp.
His first season back at the club he served twice as a player brought a fifth-place finish in League One and a trip to Wembley in the play-offs, where the Bantams lost 1-0 to Millwall in the final.
Huge uncertainty surrounded McCall’s future in the summer amid growing tensions behind the scenes caused by the change of culture brought in by the new owners.
“I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I regret staying last summer,” replied McCall when asked about a close season that saw five of his starting XI at Wembley leave.
“Until the start of January, the season was going well. But, I will admit that if it had been any other club than Bradford City, I would have walked last summer. Things had just got too difficult.”
City revealed, via an official statement, the decision to axe McCall “had not been taken lightly”.
It went on to read: “Unfortunately, we have now suffered six straight defeats and the last two, in particular, have not brought about the positive change in performances or results that we had hoped for.
“We believe our current squad is capable of performing to a much higher standard than we have seen recently.”
McCall took charge of 77 league games in his second spell at the helm, winning 35 and losing just 20.
He added: “When you have been on a run like we have, you can’t claim to be surprised to be sacked. I am hugely disappointed, of course. We had one terrible month after 18 months of progress.
“I would have loved a crack at it on Saturday as a win against Bury and the entire season could change again.
“Someone said the players had let me down, but I don’t go along with that. We haven’t been good enough this past month, but they have given me everything.
“I said that when I spoke to the squad collectively (yesterday morning) and on an individual basis. It is just disappointing that I have had to say goodbye to a group I have enjoyed working with.
“That, though, is part and parcel of football.
“For whatever reason, we have lost form. Injuries haven’t helped. And we probably needed to bring the signings in earlier last month.
“But it is what it is. And I do believe this group can turn things around – starting with Saturday. We had seven players out at Oldham through injury, but four could be available.
“That will make a big difference. I hope so, anyway. It is a time for everyone to unite and kick on. Forget about what has gone, just look to the future.
“The club is still in a good position. It says a lot that, even after this horrible run, we are still in the top six.”
Farewell to a legend: Page 18.