The prelude to the past few weeks during a glorious sun-kissed day in Shrewsbury painted Michael Collins as fresh, innovative and exciting. Fans were truly excited watching the 32-year-old manager’s quick tactical thinking, adapting his formations to suit the game, and additionally watching their Bradford City side take three points from last years beaten Play-Off finalists.
Now, the mood at Valley Parade has gone from being sour in the past few weeks, to virtually completely toxic; and things look only set to get worse.
Before this season began, everybody knew taking Michael Collins on would be a huge, huge risk.
In the past, Bradford City have appointed rookie managers and seen variable degrees of success, after all, Paul Jewell once led the club to the Premier League when given his first chance in management with the Bantams, and there was no reason as such, to write Collins off before a ball was kicked.
Last season, Collins was a part-time under 18’s coach at Valley Parade, and a part-time midfielder for National League side Halifax Town, with no experience in Football Management.
Now, he’s manager of one of the bigger sides in League One, with 15,000 expectant season ticket holders hoping their Bradford City side can kick on in League One after last season’s disappointing second-half of the campaign saw the year-upon-year progression that Phil Parkinson kickstarted at Valley Parade, and Stuart McCall continued come crashing down.
On top of that, Collins has hardly endeared himself to fans over the past few weeks, demanding ‘Respect’ and seemingly pulling the majority of his interviews out of some pre-written manual that Bantams fans have now created a standard ‘Saturday Night Michael Collins Bingo Extravaganza’ come full-time of each game, to see whether they can predict what he will come out to the media and say, after what’s more often than not been a disappointing result.
Okay, Jose Mourinho came out with a bizarre rant this week after Manchester United lost 3-0 to Tottenham at Old Trafford. But, this is a Jose Mourinho who has 19 club honours to his name, including two Champions Leagues, three Premier League titles, two Serie A titles and also the La Liga title; so you can probably understand why he’s demanding some form of respect.
Michael Collins hasn’t even managed a club until now. Respect is earned, not automatically given and the arrogance for him to demand it screams just how inexperienced he is on so many levels. Not only does he obviously have scant experience in management, but he evidently has no real clue on how to handle the media, as has been frequently pointed out on a number of occasions.
In truth, it’s a disaster at Valley Parade.
This Bradford City team has had 13 shots this season and have scored 5 goals this season.
The Bantams joint top-scorer for this campaign is a 19-year-old midfielder, who is playing his first season in professional football.
No recognized striker at the club has scored a goal from open play.
If those statistics aren’t damning enough, the thing that fans can see is quite frankly insulting is the fact that this weekend, they couldn’t even compete against 10-man Fleetwood Town for the majority of the game.
Even more embarrassingly, the substitutions that took place at the weekend were verging on ridiculous but more worryingly, they were by definition, insulting and humiliating.
The clubs captain Josh Wright and arguably one of the Bantams best players in Ryan McGowan made way for two young players – one making his debut in professional football, the other with nine football league appearances to his name (and worryingly one of the best and most exciting players on the pitch when introduced).
That’s not to mention that 6ft 3in defender McGowan’s departure saw 5ft 8in left-back Adam Chicksen move to play at centre-half for the remainder of the game. Baffling.
If that wasn’t enough, Bradford City’s most talented individual player Jack Payne made way for striker Kai Brünker in the 74th minute. Brünker’s previous club was SC Freiburg II, a club in the fourth division of German football and he only had 35 appearances to his name.
It’s becoming near shameful to say you are associated with this Bradford City team because it’s being run like a joke. Some fans aren’t bothered, some want the club to lose games in the hope that Collins will go early, some fans are planning protests against the owners at the next home game and even the most optimistic of supporters have given up.
It seems relatively simple:
- Appoint a new manager with experience in the Football League
- Rahic step back from footballing matters and leave a manager to manage
- Appoint a new captain ASAP
- Don’t play long balls to a striker who clearly can’t win aerial battles
- Buy a target man in the next transfer window to accompany said striker
Apparently, it isn’t this simple though; otherwise, things would have been changed by now.
Hopefully, his tenure in charge of Bradford City won’t ruin Michael Collins future as a football manager. He’s clearly not ready yet and under the current structure in which the club is operating, he was set up for failure, unfortunately.
That being said, Collins needs to go, and it needs to change quickly at Valley Parade.
Things are going sour at Bradford City and change needs to come, in some capacity.
It’s going to be a long and worrying season; unless change comes.