Why Bradford City fired Conor Sellars and Mark Trueman in favour of experience to take them to the next level

Bradford City say they have identified a replacement having sacked joint managers Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars – just 78 days after giving them the job permanently.

Conor Sellars, left, and fellow joint manager of Bradford City Mark Trueman urge on their players against Oldham Athletic at Valley Parade in March. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images

Although it was Trueman and Sellars who paid the price, chief executive Ryan Sparks was critical of the squad claiming “the players appeared to some degree to down tools” after the pair were handed the “permanent” job on February 22. He also claimed the squad were not conditioned well enough.

The Bantams lost nine of 19 League Two matches from that point, and took one point from the last seven games of the season.

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The pair lost one of 11 games as temporary managers, form that took Bradford from the thick of a relegation battle into a position where they had a realistic chance of reaching the play-offs.

Ryan Sparks - Bradford City chief executive. Picture courtesy of Bradford City

Trueman and Sellars stepped up from under-18 coaches to take over the first team when Stuart McCall was sacked as manager in December, weeks after being given a new contract.

They were backed in the January transfer market, making nine signings.

Both have been offered jobs to stay at the club. Trueman has already said he intends to stay, and Sparks has suggested his role will be around the first team, but he will not be imposed on his successor. Sellars is still to make a decision.

Bradford will not seek applicants for the vacancy.

“We wanted a strong finish to the season to give us momentum, heading into next,” said Sparks.

“This has not transpired and one point from a possible 21, in the end, has ultimately seen us settle for mid-table – which is far away from where this club wants and needs to be.

“We feel, at this point, we need more experience to take us forward into the summer and next season which, for us, is a hugely significant one.”

Citing the pair’s inexperience seems odd as it was not seen as a barrier when the League’s youngest chief executive handed them “very much initial 16-month contracts” less than three months ago.

Although finishing 15th was undoubtedly disappointing for a former Premier League club, avoiding relegation with seven weeks to spare was a considerable achievement for first-time managers who took over a side only above the relegation zone by one goal’s difference.

“Their efforts and achievements will be remembered at this club for being unique, all while working within a unique set of circumstances,” said Sparks.

“They personified the club’s true spirit, and have shown they have the potential to become successful first-team managers in the future.”

Trueman said: “I have learnt an awful lot over the past six months and am incredibly grateful to have had the chance to lead a good group of people.

“I have been offered the opportunity to stay at the club and fully intend to do so.

“I hope to have my future decided as soon as possible.”

Sellars has held and lost his first managerial job before turning 30.

“I have loved every minute of the job,” he said. “And, despite my confidence in our ability to help take the club forward, my time as joint manager has taught me a lot.”

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