The Michael Wood Column

Wednesday 13 February, 2002

Now is the time for Stuart McCall to leave

This is the article that I thought I would never write. I never though that I would think that the time was right for Stuart McCall to move on but should he get the chance to take over at Hull City, I hope that the City legend jumps at it.

Hull, under the chairmanship former Leeds exec Adam Pearson, are a potential first division team. Pearson will fund them but not bank roll them and with a large City and hardly any competing sports the Tigers could go a decent way.

As manager Stuart would be in an excellent training ground. If there is one thing that characterises the career of Stuart McCall from the 16 year old that tore around the Valley Parade field with a shock of red hair and a desire to go far to the elder statesman of a Premiership team, it is steady grown. Building from the bottom. Learning your trade.

Yes Stuart's management qualifications have been questioned. City lost both games he managed in the Premiership, but Hull offer McCall the chance to learn the trade from the ground up unhampered by resource problems that most of clubs in that division suffer.

City have replacements in the wings. Le McCall, Jean Philippe Javary would slide into the centre of City's midfield well and Gary Locke could also do Stuart's job should he not be on his way to Kilmarnock. Both are mid-twenties while even Stuart's greatest advocates can see that his legs are slowing even though the brain is as keen as ever.

Reading that back it sound ludicrous. A guy who cannot play two consecutive games without breaking a hip and a French fella who has played two reserves games. How could they possibly replace a man who is a genuine Bradford City legend? In truth, they cannot.

However we have to look at a larger truth.

Many City fans, and I include myself in this, long for the day when Stuart McCall is manager of Bradford City. He has all the qualities one would look for in a manager, but he needs to prove himself. He needs to dismiss the idea that he is not "The Right Stuff" for management.

People point to his fall out with Jim Jefferies, to his exclusion from the 1998 World Cup squad and they say that this man will never make a manager. People are right to question, but Stuart in going to a club like Hull and enjoying success, would reply perfectly.

In short, Stuart must be where Nicky Law was when Geoffrey Richmond came for him. Stuart McCall must be the talented young manager of the lower leagues. That way the next time the City job comes up, and without a hint of criticism directed at Nicky Law one has to say that if a City manager last two years he is doing very well, then Stuart McCall will have more than sentiment to recommend him for the job.

Imagine then the McCall that dragged City into the Premiership when legs were tired after a long season as manager and chief motivator. It is an enticing thought.

For Stuart McCall to come back, we have to let him go. If Hull City will make Stuart McCall manager I will put aside the 80s dislike of the Tigers and follow McCall, waiting for the day he returns to Valley Parade.

Index of column & Biography | Mail