Following David Hopkin’s resignation from his managerial position Bradford City, The Bantams must search for their third head coach of the season – and they must do so quickly.
With only 12 games remaining Bradford find themselves second from bottom in Sky Bet League One, three points off Shrewsbury and Oxford who sit in 19th and 20th respectively. City’s goal difference of -17 would arguably make them four points from escaping the relegation zone as the teams above them have a significantly better goal difference. It won’t be easy, whoever they sign, for it is unlikely that those above them will fail to pick up an extra few points before the end of the season too.
Hopkins is the second Bradford boss this season, following the sacking of Michael Collins in September, however Hopkins left at his own accord believing he could not do more than he has to keep the side up. The 48-year-old impressively won four out of five league games in December, earning him the Manager of the Month Award however this was not enough to prevent the recent events, with Saturdays 3-2 defeat at fellow strugglers Walsall, seemed to be the final straw for the Scotsman after only 175 days in the job.
So who are the potential candidates to take Bradford through the remainder of the season?
- Simon Grayson
For as long as he is out of a job, Simon Grayson will always be on the Bradford City shortlist. The Yorkshire man has had an illustrious managerial career where he has earned promotion with all but one of the clubs he has bossed. The club he failed to have success with were Sunderland, but sympathy has been given to any manager who worked at The Stadium of Light due to the crisis the club was going through during the last three years where they experienced consecutive relegations. Grayson has openly said that due to the situation behind the scenes ‘no one could have done better’ and he claims he would have saved them if given more time. This provides two reasons why Grayson could accept an offer; firstly that he is brave enough to join a club on the fall and try to steady the ship, but it also gives him the opportunity to follow through on his word that he could hack a relegation battle. Grayson does already have a history at Valley Parade, having played very briefly in 2002. More recently though, Bradford were the last team he managed, taking over from Stuart McCall at a similar time to now in 2018 but left at the end of his short term contract three months later, despite being offered an extended deal. This proves that the owners liked his impact on the club and see a potential in his assets. The only question is would Simon Grayson want be up for the challenge?
2. Hannes Wolf
The former Stuttgart manager is another name that has been hot on the lips of those related to the football club over the past year or so. At one point before Grayson was put in temporary charge in February 2018, Wolf was odds on favourite to succeed Stuart McCall, with the club then in sixth place. At 36, the German has much to offer and already has success under his belt in his homeland. Wolf brought smiles quickly back to the faces of humiliated fans as his Stuttgart side immediately returned to the Germany’s top flight in 2017 by winning the 2.Bundesliga after relegated for the first time in 41 years the season before under a number of his predecessors. Hannes was out of work having parted company with the club after a rocky start in the first division, but was appointed as head coach of Hamburg in October where they sit top of the 2.Bundesliga. Wolf has a great opportunity to win a second promotion in his career and the fact that he is only three months into his job makes it harder to see him at Bradford this season at least. However, he has been highly linked with the job on several occasions due to City’s owner’s connection with Stuttgart and so he will no doubt be on their speed dial!
This could be seen as a risk for a young manager though, given the position Bradford find themselves in the league and so staying at Hamburg would be the easier option. However, even if Wolf does not come into question with the owners right now, don’t rule him out once the season is up.
With only 12 games left, a new manager coming into a squad he is not used to and has had no time to gel with could be fatal for Bradford City’s survival hopes. Therefore if there is a chance someone with some insight could take the reigns, even just for the time being, it could be what saves a Bradford side that are expected to do so much more. Martin Drury would be ideal in this scenario because he has been assistant manager at the club since the start of the season. Furthermore, Drury had a very brief stint managing Bradford Park Avenue meaning in recent years he has never been too far from the team. This previous managerial role doesn’t count for nothing either. Drury will have his own methods from his own albeit brief experience, alongside what he will have learnt as Michael Collin’s and David Hopkin’s second man. Drury will also already have a relationship with the players and will be the first man that will see what the previous managers were doing wrong behind the scenes. Therefore, a caretaker role seems a given for the 32-year-old and even if it is a big step in his early career in management, any kind of resurgence from the squad could land him a more long term job. The appointment of Drury also gives the owners a nice and simple way out of jail if they want to find themselves a more experienced manager, as they will then have until the summer to appoint someone full time if they believe Drury is not the man to take them further. This also links with another contender as their previous main target Hannes Wolf may be more likely to consider his options in the summer when his first season with Hamburg has concluded. Remember, the German seems quite good at getting an underperforming side promoted to where they belong.
Other candidates include the likes of Gary Bowyer, Paul Hurst and Ian Holloway however betting company’s have put the odds pretty high for the likes of these appointments suggesting that at this stage it is anyone’s guess as to who will become Bradford’s boss in order to get them out of the bottom four.