5 names in the frame to replace Simon Grayson at Bradford City

by Gabriel Sutton / 10 May 2018, 10:55

After Simon Grayson declined to stay on at Valley Parade, Bradford City are now looking for their third manager in the space of five months. Promotion is surely the aim for a club of their size but to get there, the current squad looks in need of surgery; who is the man to carry it out?

The Sack Race looks at five contenders in the Next Bradford Manager Market.

Steve Cotterill

Why he should get the job:

In Steve Cotterill’s last season as a manager outside the Championship, he led Bristol City to the League One title and JPT double; the Robins were one of the most composed and tactically flexible outfits the third tier has ever seen.

That success for Cotterill completed a trio of top honours, which started in the Conference with his hometown club Cheltenham Town and continued in League Two with Notts County. Cotterill left those clubs in far better places than the one he found them in and few managers boast better records at this level.

Why he shouldn’t:

A lack of balance. It became clear early in Bristol City’s return to the Championship that the three-at-the-back system was leaving them exposed against better quality players; Cotterill’s persistence with it perhaps cost him his job.

After taking the helm at Birmingham, his tactics ventured too far in the other direction: ball-winners like Maikel Kieftenbeld and Cheikh N’Doye played in attacking midfield roles despite lacking the necessary offensive quality. Cotterill’s handling of fans and media during his ill-fated spell in B9 could also be questioned, meaning the 53-year-old - rightly or wrongly - must now work with a stigma attached to him.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

As well as Cotterill has done in the past, we think his stint at Birmingham means he might have to drop down to League Two to re-build his reputation.

Uwe Rosler

Why he should get the job:

Bradford City chairman Edin Rahic has studied in Stuttgart and St Gallen, both university campuses being within three hour’s drive of SpVgg Unterhaching, the penultimate club of Uwe Rosler’s playing career.

While it would be premature to conclude the two men have prior relations, there are similarities in their backgrounds that might open communication lines. Rosler has plenty of experience at this level, having led three of his last four clubs to a top six finish.

Why he shouldn’t:

Inconsistency. After pragmatist Phil Parkinson left, the club appointed Stuart McCall as a popular figure to get the fans on board, even if his approach was more expansive. McCall was dismissed after the first sustained run of defeats during his otherwise positive tenure, to be replaced by the defensive-minded Simon Grayson due to his League One promotion record.

If the board went back to a possession-based coach in Rosler, it would be hard to escape the feeling that they were hoping and improvising, rather than employing a coherent plan for progression.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Rosler could be a good appointment, but the club would need to stick by him if times got tough.

Jaap Stam

Why he should get the job:

Stam has taken Reading to the Championship play-off final, in which they were merely one kick away from the Premier League. Talented players like Liam Moore and John Swift developed quickly under the Dutchman, who was unlucky that his second season at the Madejski was affected by injuries to the squad.

The 45-year-old is not a good person to cross and after a long period of friendly management under McCall before Grayson’s tenure, perhaps the Bradford players could do with getting some home truths.

Why he shouldn’t:

The football. Under Stam, Reading kept the ball in their own half for extended periods, waiting to be pressed before showing any ambition. Those methods weren’t conducive to chance creation, even during the play-off campaign, when a disproportionately large chunk of their goals came from set pieces.

When results go well, sideways football is tolerable but when they go badly, fans can grow agitated and we sometimes see the downside to Stam’s strict approach.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Stam could be a good manager for League One level, provided he learns from the way his time in Berkshire ended.

Michael Appleton

Why he should get the job:

After leading Oxford United to League Two promotion in 2015-16, then their highest finish in 18 years the season after via numerous cup excursions, it’s fair to say Michael Appleton has put himself back on the MApp.

The Mancunian worked wonders for the development of players like John Lundstram, Jonjoe Kenny and George Baldock - all of whom having progressed to higher levels - and recently enjoyed a brief but victorious interim stint at Leicester City, where he’s currently an assistant.

Why he shouldn’t:

Oxford is the only club at which Appleton has truly flourished as a number one and even there, results started badly and he owed a debt of gratitude to the patience of chairman Daryl Eales. Given how quickly Stefan Rupp and Edin Rahic dismissed McCall when results went badly, it could be tough for the club to entice Appleton to drop back down to League One.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Would be a good appointment, but whether Appleton would want to go is a different question.

Harry Kewell

Why he should get the job:

Crawley Town progressed by five places under Kewell; not bad, considering the 2017/18 season was his first in senior management. The Australian typically encourages slick interplay in pockets of space just outside the penalty area, an approach that might be tailored towards a squad containing many exuberant, technical footballers who are fresh from an academy environment.

Why he shouldn’t:

Kewell’s lack of experience could be problematic, especially if promotion in the next two years is the aim; that 14th placed finish in League Two was his only taste of senior management, after working with Watford’s Under-23s.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

An outside shout, perhaps, but we reckon Kewell could be a well-calculated gamble.

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