New contract fails to save Stuart McCall from Bradford City axe

Stuart McCall has been sacked as Bradford City manager less than three weeks after signing a contract extension.
Stuart McCall.   Picture Bruce RollinsonStuart McCall.   Picture Bruce Rollinson
Stuart McCall. Picture Bruce Rollinson

The Bantams moved out of the League Two drop zone on goal difference on Saturday but their sixth straight defeat, 3-1 at Oldham Athletic, was not enough to save him and assistant Kenny Black from the sack after 10 months in their jobs.

When Ryan Sparks was appointed chief executive on November 26, his first act was handing McCall and Black one-year contract extensions and promising backing in the January transfer market.

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It was McCall’s third spell as City manager and although he is regarded by many as their greatest player after two stints as a midfielder, reputation could not save him.

McCall returned in February when Gary Bowyer was sacked days after the transfer window closed.

He won seven and lost 15 of his 29 matches but Stevenage’s 4-0 defeat at Carlisle United on Saturday meant his final loss actually lifted the Bantams out of the relegation zone, having entered it for the first time seven days earlier.

McCall made a conscious effort to slim down his squad last summer – although finances would have left him little choice anyway – and was not helped by a spate of injuries and suspensions. Since McCall’s new contract award, Reece Staunton, another who had just signed a new deal, and Zeli Ismael were ruled out for three months. Summer signing Lee Novak made his first appearance since tearing his calf in October at Boundary Park. Three players – Anthony and Paudie O’Connor and Levi Sutton – have been sent off.

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McCall took Bradford to the 2017 League One play-off final but they were relegated two years later. They were expected by many to bounce straight back but had dropped out of the play-off positions when Bowyer was sacked – also after losing at Oldham – and the season was abandoned due to Covid-19 shortly afterwards.

After the dour football Bowyer was criticised for, McCall tried to play more expansively but it has not worked. Novak is their joint second-highest goalscorer this season, one behind Clayton Donaldson, who has five.

Academy coaches Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars will take charge of tomorrow’s League Two game at Crawley whilst the club invites applications for a long-term successor.

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