STUART McCall has promised to bring sexy football back to Bradford as he bids to make it third time lucky at Valley Parade.
McCall, 55, was named manager on Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours after the dismissal of Gary Bowyer.
Widely criticised by supporters for his perceived negativity, Bowyer also carried the can for the recent departure of top-scorer James Vaughan and the sale of prolific marksman Eoin Doyle to Swindon Town.
A seven-game winless streak – during which Bradford scored just five times – and dwindling attendances proved the final nail in his coffin.
McCall, by contrast, is an enormously popular figure with fans, and not just because he represented his hometown club 443 times.
As manager from 2007-2010, and particularly from 2016-2018, he was renowned for a gung-ho style that put bums on seats. And that, says McCall, is his primary target once again.
“It’s results that bring fans back,” said the former Scotland international. “But I’ve always said that at 5pm and the final whistle has gone, if you’re a supporter and you can’t wait for the next game, that’s a start. In my first season last time we got plaudits for playing some decent football. And yeah – I’d much rather win 5-4 than 1-0.
“As I say, we want to win. But we want to do it in a manner which isn’t just to please supporters but to play how we think we should.”
For McCall, this latest return to Valley Parade is very much about unfinished business after a rancorous end to his previous stint.
Appointed in 2016 as part of a takeover by Stefan Rupp and minority shareholder Edin Rahic, McCall never saw eye-to-eye with the German duo.
Rahic, in particular, was a constant source of irritation. With Rupp in Germany and oblivious to the situation, Rahic ran the club as a personal fiefdom and his constant interference in team selection, tactics and training caused numerous arguments.
Those tensions eventually proved too divisive and McCall was sacked in February 2018, despite boasting a 46 per cent win record, a play-off runners up medal and the Bantams lying sixth in League One.
They have since tumbled out of the third tier and began the weekend eighth in League Two, a point shy of the play-offs. Critically, though, Rahic was removed by Rupp in December 2018 and the club is now run by former co-owner – and McCall ally – Julian Rhodes.
“I’ve spoken to Stefan by text,” said McCall, whose contract will run until the end of next season. “And the truth is, I never had any issue with Stefan.
“I bumped into him prior to Stephen Darby’s charity game against Liverpool earlier in the season and we had a five-minute chat. Stefan said what he needed to regarding the departure of his partner, shall we say. I think everyone knows he had the wool pulled over his eyes.
“There’ll be no interference from anyone else, apart from Julian ringing me last night telling me one of the lads had scored a few goals.
“He’s a football man, Julian. You can talk football with him all day but never for one minute would he tell me when to bring subs on or who to bring on or whatnot. That will probably be slightly different.
“A lot of other things are different from when I left. The staff, the playing side has naturally changed a little bit. But I’m back doing something I love and if I could have a choice of club, this would be it.
“I can’t wait to get started and try to bring a little bit of success back to this wonderful football club. And mark my words – if things are done properly, this can be a Championship club.”