Stuart McCall remains a Bradford City legend... even after he was sacked - Sue Smith

It is always sad to see a manager lose his job, particularly when they have as strong an affiliation with their club as Stuart McCall has with Bradford City.
Bradford City legend Stuart McCall.  Picture: Bruce RollinsonBradford City legend Stuart McCall.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Bradford City legend Stuart McCall. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

But I do not think McCall’s sacking will do any real damage to his standing at Valley Parade.

I wonder if bringing in club legends is becoming more of a tactic from chairmen, knowing they will get more time and patience from supporters than others might. As McCall’s sacking shows, though, it only goes so far.

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Bradford had been on a poor run, losing seven matches on the trot and dropping into the League Two relegation zone at one point, but I thought it was odd to sack him only two-and-a-half weeks after giving him and his assistant Kenny Black one-year contract extensions.

Having made that decision they should have backed him in January as they said they would and allowed him to bring in the players he wanted. To backtrack so quickly seemed odd.

Judging by the comments many players have made since, they were clearly still playing for him, it was just results had not quite come. From afar it seems like a bit of a panic decision.

I can understand why there seems to be a growing trend towards bringing in ex-players and particularly club greats.

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They know the club and what is expected and straight away can change the atmosphere and make it more positive. We saw that when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, and there was lots of talk about how he was talking to the tea lady and the receptionist. Those sort of things might not win you games but it makes the place a happier place where people want to work and a happier environment leads onto the pitch. If I was to go into one of my old clubs straight away you would have that affiliation, you would know how the club works and some of the people. Instantly you have a connection, whereas if you bring someone in without that they have to build it, then win over the fans, then the players and staff and maybe it takes a bit more time.

Would Solskjaer have got the Manchester United job had he not been a legend of the club as a player? Probably not. He had not really been successful as a manager at that level before, relegated from the Premier League with Cardiff City and winning silverware in Norwegian football with Molde.

When the fans have an affiliation with a former player, as Manchester United fans do with Solskjaer for the important goals he scored, they have a little bit more time on their hands.

I was speaking to a Chelsea fan after their defeat to Everton and when someone asked if Frank Lampard was the right man for the job, his response straight away was: “It’s Lamps, though.”

The instinct was to protect him as an absolute club legend.

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I am not sure if I would call Mikel Arteta an Arsenal legend but as a popular former player it is similar for him.

The Arsenal fans seem split between those who think he just needs time, he is the right man for the job with the wrong players, and others who say they need a more experienced manager, but the Gunners are standing by him for now.

As an Everton fan, I look at it from my club’s perspective. This time last year we had Duncan Ferguson as our caretaker manager and Blues fans absolutely adore him. There are similarities with the way McCall loves Bradford, and how Bantams fans worship him.

Ferguson actually did well in his games in charge and started the turnaround Carlo Ancelotti has carried on.

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Had he failed, I do not think it would have changed my opinion of him and I expect it is the same with McCall.

I think most fans separate the player from the manager when one does not have the success the other did.

Howard Kendall’s third and final spell as Everton manager, when he returned from Sheffield United in 1997, was a difficult one but it has not stopped him going down as a club legend. Most people just remember the positive times with the greats.

I could not believe it when I got asked earlier this week if Chris Wilder, not a legendary former player but another whose love for his club is beyond doubt, was still the right man for Sheffield United. Of course he is, but that is football – one poor run and some people are calling for change.

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No manager gets enough time nowadays so anything that buys them a bit more is a good thing.

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